outlineofash: Red Riding Hood pulls a gun out of her basket. Overlaid text reads, "Red's mother warned her about the patriarchy." (Text - Red's Armed)
The former president of SFWA has a lot of things to say about sexism, and all of it is awful and clueless. Loaded with links to articles about how men and women are just ~different~, declarations of how he wasn't offended by something that many women have called out as being sexist, and so on. But I think what got to me the most was his shitty example of how reducing an author to her beauty is just a description. Not sexist at all, really!


On the other hand, if someone wrote, "I once met this beautiful woman, Jane Doe, a really amazing fantasy writer at the World Science Fiction Convention," that’s a much more clear statement of memory. Is the use of the word “beautiful” sexist, an attempt to impart an observable fact, or simply the writer attempting to accurately describe someone from memory – a process which begins with sense perception and judgment?

According to some people involved in the most recent SFWA / SFWA Bulletin kerfluffle, by using the term beautiful, I am being sexist. And perhaps they're right... but I don't think so. Not necessarily, anyway. It’s a completely different statement than, “I once met this beautiful woman, Jane Doe, a really amazing fantasy writer, at the World Science Fiction Convention. She had a marvelous rack and an ass to die for.”


You nincompoop. When your defining description of a woman revolves around her physical appearance, you are reducing her worth, her notability, to how she looks. That is absolutely sexist, and that first statement is no different from the following one; both reduce her to her base appearance. Both suggest that what is most notable is how she looks. I bet your hypothetical 'someone' wouldn't ever define a male writer by how beautiful he is. Why would they? It's a pretty fucking useless description for anyone not in an industry where their looks ARE their careers.

Also, it doesn't matter if it's a ~complimentary~ judgment; that she is beautiful first and writer second is as dismissive as the "She's really good for a girl" type of comments.

Look, I've seen enough of these blow-ups in the science fiction and fantasy communities to know many people will just say that it's not a big deal, that a woman criticizing this attitude is just looking for things to get angry over. Not true. I don't have to look at all, because it's in my face every fucking day, from all directions. And I wish I could say it's not a big deal, I wish I could say oh it's not offensive. But you know what? I really don't like how many prominent SF authors indicate, imply, or outright state that my face will always sum up my worth more than what I write. And I really don't like that when women speak out against these "not a big deal" things, they receive hate mail with explicit, sexually violent threats. This is offensive. This is a big deal. And yes, I'm fucking angry.

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A. J. Navarre

October 2016

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