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General SF&F Chat > Why So Much Pushback In Regards To Recognizing Diversity & Incorporating Others Into The World Of Science Fiction?!

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message 1: by Terrica (new)

Terrica Duncan (myjoyandlight) | 9 comments All right! I am new to this group. And it just so happens that a wonderful topic was brought to my attention by one of my Goodreads friends. The topic had to do with an article written by a writer at Wired magazine about her insinuating that women, and other ethnicities were "new members" to the science fiction/fantasy world.

The author has since updated her article to not have any mention of such remarks; however, it got me to thinking of two questions: why do people believe that women and other groups are latecomers to science fiction/fantasy and why is it a problem when "other" groups "infiltrate" the world of science fiction?

I have grown as a person. I am proud of that accomplishment. Therefore, my writing isn't limited to certain traditional views that I once held years ago. Therefore, I create characters that exist in the world which I live-a diverse world.

And believe me, I get the wanting to create characters that look and sound like you because it is a sense of familiarity, but when should we move past that way of thinking?

I guess...I dunno. I get a little ticked off by the ridiculousness of people wanting to hold on to intangible things. Creativity is intangible. Writing is intangible. Imagination is intangible. So, what is the purpose of silencing or ignoring individuals who are just trying to entertain people with the written word?

I apologize for getting a tad off topic. Below is my response to my friend's post of a person's response to the Wired article. I'd like to know people's opinions on this topic.


♥ Sue said to you:
Hi Terrica:

This was just on G+. Thought that you may want to re-post it here or there and add your insights. ☺

Susan Stone
Shared publicly - 12:53 PM

Wired did a good piece about the Hugo Awards yesterday, with one glaring mistake. The author perpetuated the myth that women, people of color and people of non CIS are new to the fandom, the field and the circle of SF/F.

Not true. It's never been true. We were kind of overlooked, like in other areas. Hell, I've been a reader/fan of this genre for 52 years (in text. I was 8 when I started. I was raised watching SF movies. I don't have a real starting point for that.)

If anybody says that women, POC, the gays have taken the genre away, push back. It's not true.

This is one person's twitter response to the Wired article.

(to learn more, you can start with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_i...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specula...
http://feministsf.org/bibs/lgbt.html

H/T +Donna Buckles 

you (Terrica) said to ♥ Sue:

Ooooh...Great, Sue!

I cannot understand why people have this notion that women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups are new fans of science fiction and fantasy. It is mind-boggling funny to me how a person can believe such bunk. It shows that the person's thinking and outlook of the world is limited. To be dismissive of a group and then have the audacity to make such a blanket statement shows how out of touch he or she is with reality or... with society in general. I believe that this thinking is coming from the huge, cinematic success of comic book related material. And it has been an eye-opener to some who have never seen such fandemonium that doesn't consist of just an all-white male audience. News flash! The droves of fans are not only men. The fans include: women, different ethnicities, transgendered, heterosexuals, homosexuals, the elderly as well as children.

And...perhaps, I should not get so worked up about the Wired article and the writer's viewpoint. Maybe the writer is just naïve to what kind of audiences exist in the world. But, then that would make me naïve to think such of the writer. Here's a question for those who believe that science fiction and fantasy have gained "new" fans.

If most of the work, if not all books and television shows were and are produced by Caucasian creators and distributed to the masses by mostly Caucasian ownership, wouldn't that mean that science fiction and fantasy has long been introduced to many people of various ethnicities, gender, and nationalities? Last I could remember, Asians, African-Americans, women, homosexuals and various other groups of people have been listening to radio and watching TV since it was invented. When writing and reading was no longer against the law for African-Americans, I am pretty sure they wrote and read a book or two on science fiction and fantasy (W.E.B DuBois "The Comet" circa 1920).

The truth is that science fiction and fantasy isn't new to the non-white folk! It is the incorporation of female, ethnic, or homosexual characters in many modern novels that is new, which has been a shock to some audiences.

It is not I (an African-American female) or the Latino, Asian or homosexual that needs to welcome the world of science fiction/fantasy into our lives because many of us have. It is the writer and publisher who need to welcome us into the creation of more stories and promote the novels like any other work.

you (Terrica) said to ♥ Sue:
Guess what, Sue?

I went to the Wired page to read the article and surprisingly, the writer updated the piece to clarify a point.

UPDATE 8/23/15 12:52 PM This story originally said Beale owned the publishing house.
2 UPDATE 8/23/15 1:03 PM Added to clarify that women and people of color have indeed been major players in science fiction all along.
3 UPDATE 8/23/15 12:56 PM This story originally gave Liu’s first name as “Kevin.”
4 UPDATE 8/23/15 1:00 PM Added clarification of where the Alfie winners came from.

I wonder if that was done on purpose or because someone told her to do it? I am going to lean towards her doing it on her own.

This is still a good topic!


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 24, 2015 06:08PM) (new)

Martin, your message was removed for violating the group rule against profanity. A redacted version follows:

Martin wrote: "I don't care what color you are, your gender or sexual preference. Just write a good story. Let the characters be who they need to be.
All the rest is political."



message 3: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 29 comments Ha! Sorry man.

I find it ironic that one of the foundation issues with the debate is Political Correctness gone too far.


message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2177 comments At least he put your comment back in, Martin. I got one of mine deleted completely for using 'd*mn' in a correct context - religious condemnation. So be careful. Such strict rules can make conversation difficult at times in this day & age when rules on profanity have generally lapsed.

I happen to agree with you on the color & such, but I do get a bit tired of weird combinations of characters that seem to be drawn for political correctness without regard to any logic inherent to the world. In SF, it makes sense to have odd blend since we are now. Or it can be used to make a point, as Harry Harrison does to thumb his nose at John Campbell. But in many heroic fantasies that feature tribalism, it often doesn't & can stretch my suspension of disbelief past the breaking point.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

First, don't feel bad about getting a message cut for cussin'....G33 has to wash my mouth out with soap from time to time....lol

but to be serious...I'm sure there were POC, ect. reading SF all along...but back in the day it was pretty much a white man's game...back in the 1920s and 30s the editors were white guys, the writers were mostly white guys, ect. Go back to the first Worldcon, it was mostly white pimple-face teenaged white folk, mostly male, a few ladys...the stories were almost always about white guys, and when women showed up in the stories they were there to be rescued by some white guy...it was the 1920s-30s and raceism and sexism was part of the landscape...in the 1940s it wasn't much better...JWC ruled Sf as editor of Astounding, and he was a raceist (I own a volume of his letters, he and Asimov argued about it quite a bit, until Campbell's wife stepped in and stopped it...she said if they didn't they would ruin their friendship...that's how bad it got)...it took a long time to get the raceist and sexist stuff out of SF...and a good thing we did too.

I do love the Old Time Science Fiction...but I do wince when the racist and sexist stuff creeps in...I'm off to read the Wired story, back in a bit


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Jim wrote: "At least he put your comment back in, Martin. I got one of mine deleted completely for using 'd*mn' in a correct context - religious condemnation. So be careful...."

Now, Jim, don't be bitter. It did convince me to lighten up on some minor cussin'. I wouldn't want anyone to think I was raised by nuns.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Ok, read the Wired article...first, what made me sad was an argument in the "comments" section after the article...the numbskulls were argueing about what a Fan was....apparently, either the diffention of a fan has changed, or the old skool fans didn't know what it ment when they coined the term....Have to go to a Con to be a fan? Hardly...write the stuff? Sorry, that just makes you a "dirty old pro"...a fan is anyone who engages in fanac...have a letter of comment published in any of the mags or fanzines, OR go to a Con, OR be a member of any of the "fan clubs", OR publish a fanzine, OR, OR, OR...in short a fan is one who interacts with others who love SF...everyone who posts on this site is a fan...don't belive me I'll drag out the Fancyclepodia I and II from back in the day and prove it....these fugheads don't even know from whince they came, I speak of both Puppies and non-puppies...so we have a bunch argueing about the future of the Hugos that don't even know what a Fan is...The Great Ghu weeps....


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

also, NPR had a bit on the Hugo fuss again today...only about 30 seconds, but you know it's a big deal when NPR does a story on the Hugos twice in like 3 days....not the kind of attention SF needs :(

My last comment, I don't care what these Puppies say, bigots is bigots....the puppies have chewed on the rug and went poo in the middle of the floor, now they got to go outside...if they don't like today's SF, they can find some old stuff to read...in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, "What a bunch of ma roons"


message 9: by Jeff (new)

Jeff (jeffcreer) | 12 comments I guess to answer the original question, there's pushback against diversity because there has always been pushback against diversity. Fandom has been, and still is, going through a period of integration and may always be going through a period of integration.

Integration does not usually come easily. Many efforts to integrate people have unintended consequences. Many attempts at integration actually cause more tension and deepen the divides. (I've seen more than one corporate company-wide diversity training that has created more bigots than allies.) Though some efforts at integration are also successful over time.

From what I can see, the Puppies felt left out. Fandom got bigger. But as what often happens when groups get bigger, they start diversifying, evolving, and then dividing. The puppies didn't, and still don't, like where they got put. Many other minority groups have felt, or still feel, the same way.

So the Puppies, feeling hurt, decided to lash out. Then others, reacting to the Puppies, decided to shove back. And then the Puppies decided to bite, so their victims chose give the puppies a good kick, and then the puppies... on and on and on. Sadly, the whole affair is far from over. Sad Puppies 4 is already being planned.

For what it's worth, the Puppies and puppy sympathizers made up about 20%-30% of the Hugo voters this year. Last year, they were closer to 10%. If they continue to double their share of WorldCon memberships things are going to be ugly next year. And every time I hear someone claim Jim Butcher must be a bigot for being on the Sad Puppy slate, I cringe that a new puppy will be born. The No Award result has already gained them some new allies to replace the few they've lost.

As far as diversity in fandom... we'll see. If it follows past efforts in integration, well, in the U.S. some say we're less integrated now than we were in the 1960s during the civil rights movements. There can be a school where half the kids are white and half are black, but if black kids don't talk to the white kids and the white kids don't talk to the black kids, then you can't say it's diverse or integrated.

There are signs of Fandom heading this direction. The Puppies being one sign. (If the puppies leave WorldCon and start their own award, is that kind of like white flight? Or is it the other way around. The puppies need Worldcon and it leaving them leaves the puppies in the slums?)

Fandom might be heading towards our own The City & The City setting where we exist in the same physical space but don't see the other city. And unfortunately, everyone seems to keep trying to build bridges by throwing stones. (Which I guess works if you intend to make your bridge out of the corpses of your enemies. This seems to be VD's plan.)

It's better to build bridges by thinking the best of each other and not turning anyone into a "them".


message 10: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 337 comments What is annoying about this is that on the Internet nobody knows if you're a dog. When you look at the cover of a book, you cannot tell if the writer is black or white. You cannot even tell, sometimes, if he or she is male or female. (Leigh Brackett, C.J. Cherryh). It is not unknown for men to use female pen names. You just cannot know.

And who cares? Just read the book. If you like it, nominate it. Add a review on Goodreads or Amazon. That's the way it ought to be.

The Puppy movement decided that there ought to be other criteria. Whiteness and maleness was important to them, and being a good book or story was less important. Naturally fandom got mad.


message 11: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 253 comments " Whiteness and maleness was important to them, and being a good book or story was less important."

Citation please? Which SP spokesman or spokeswoman said this?

White and male?

Kary English, a female Sad Puppy nominee, got 874 votes for best short story, possibly one of the highest number of votes for a short story in Hugo history. But "No Award" got 3,000.

Toni Weisskopf, female Sad Puppy nominee for Best Editor, Long Form, got 1,216 first place votes for Best Editor. That isn’t just a record. That is FOUR TIMES higher than the previous record. Shelia Gilbert came in next with an amazing 754. But instead of awarding it to her, 2,496 votes were "No Award".

So who is prejudiced?


message 12: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 29 comments Looking closer. V.W. is correct.

In fact the Best novel award went to a woman, that is not white, or even American and was on the SP slate.

It looks like the SWJs are the bigots. Political bigots.


message 13: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 25, 2015 07:18AM) (new)

Martin wrote: "In fact the Best novel award went to a woman, that is not white, or even American and was on the SP slate."

Which "Best Novel" award are you referring to?

This years's Best Novel Hugo award went to Cixin Liu, who is male, for The Three-Body Problem.
Last year's Best Novel Hugo went to Ann Leckie, who is female, for Ancillary Justice.

Neither were on the puppie slate.


message 14: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 29 comments I heard wrong. Can't muster enough interest to care that much.


message 15: by D. (new)

D. Snyder | 51 comments Brenda wrote: "... When you look at the cover of a book, you cannot tell if the writer is black or white. You cannot even tell..."

And this, by me, is a good thing. Obfuscation has the potential to be one of the great equalizers in terms of "race relations." Publishing (especially with the advancement of self publishing) is the one place where the work can truly be judged on the merits of the work and not by the demographics of the author, because those demographics can be completely concealed. Anyone with the mental fortitude can write a good book, and no race has a monopoly on mental fortitude.

To clarify my statement, the merits I reference are not the author's technical proficiency or level of education, but the story's ability to enlighten and/or entertain an audience.

Does it matter what box you can put the author in?

(If you think so, I believe that speaks more to you than of the work.)


message 16: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 337 comments I am not going to link to the various blogs on the subject, but there have been volumes written on the subject and they will come up with ease in a search.

It is also suspicious, to my mind, that the Puppies' slate is made up of so many of their own works. In other words, it's not a philosophical thing really. It's just a way to gin up publicity for their own stuff by creating controversy. This is always a two-edged sword. Watch them now complain that the controversy they ignited has now made people less willing to buy their work.


message 17: by C.E. (new)

C.E. Martin (cemartin2) | 39 comments TO answer the question in the thread title (Why so much pushback to diversity)...

Because abnormality is never greeted warmly.

Let's be brutally honest, the current Politically-correct Western Cultural Fad isn't about "diversity", it's about changing things. Going from what's been normal (regular, traditional, etc) to something abnormal. We can call it diversity or any other YA-suitable one-word title, but it still amounts to a call for embracing the abnormal--the non-traditional.

People like familiarity. It's why Scifi was looked down on or so long--it wasn't traditional, regular, normal storytelling the masses were familiar with.

And don't think I'm knocking abnormal. I loved Abby Normal in "Young Frankenstein" ;)


message 18: by Michael (new)

Michael | 28 comments Martin wrote: "I heard wrong. Can't muster enough interest to care that much." It looks like the SWJs are the bigots. Political bigots.

At least muster enough not to make inaccurate statements, ok?

This actually was an important debate and - for once - attempts to turn a relatively unpolluted corner of the world into a place for political action and reaction went for naught. This is pretty good news, but it's sad that in 2015 attempts to turn back the clock occur at all. I want to be encouraged at the result, but generally beaten-down dogmas just redouble their strength and try again. Next year it will be worse.


message 19: by Brendan (new)

Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments C.E. wrote: "We can call it diversity or any other YA-suitable one-word title, but it still amounts to a call for embracing the abnormal--the non-traditional. "

I don't agree with equating the terms non-traditional with abnormal. Abnormality implies aberration or dysfunction. All sort of non-traditional things are totally normal.


message 20: by Terrica (new)

Terrica Duncan (myjoyandlight) | 9 comments C.E. wrote: "TO answer the question in the thread title (Why so much pushback to diversity)...

Because abnormality is never greeted warmly.

Let's be brutally honest, the current Politically-correct Western C..."


I am not quite sure what you mean by "abnormal." Are you saying that welcoming women, people of color and those of other walks of life are abnormal? What is normal?

I am happy that certain definitions of "normalcy" do not run parallel with acknowledging and accepting others into the fold. No one would ever be able to exist with others if we all went by our own brand/definition of normal.

Diversity is what it is. It's inclusion, which in most cases, is natural and/or "normal".

If you are suggesting that including women or anyone else that does not fit the "standard" mold of science fiction writers and fans is abnormal, I see that as an archaic way of thinking and a perpetuation of the need for exclusion.

I think the issue is that claim has been laid to something (science fiction) that is intangible. None of the genres are clubs. No one needs a membership card to write romance, science fiction, thrillers, or whatever else.

So, as much as you like to think that recognizing the work of all based on the merits of one's writing may fall in line with the embracing of abnormal, I see it as wanting to get past the "I'm better than you cause of my gender and color." C'mon, C.E.! We are in 2015 for goodness sakes!

Abnormal? Really?


message 21: by Terrica (new)

Terrica Duncan (myjoyandlight) | 9 comments D. wrote: "Brenda wrote: "... When you look at the cover of a book, you cannot tell if the writer is black or white. You cannot even tell..."

And this, by me, is a good thing. Obfuscation has the potential t..."


D,

You made a good point about self-publishing. I think that with the emergence of self-publishing, a lot of authors can get their work out there without someone saying, "You don't look like a science fiction or mystery writer." The author is not dependent on a company to promote his or her work nor are they made to suffer because they don't receive marketing because of misconceptions of how an author is supposed to look and sound.


message 22: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2177 comments Brendan wrote: "I don't agree with equating the terms non-traditional with abnormal. Abnormality implies aberration or dysfunction. All sort of non-traditional things are totally normal. "

I think C.E. has a point. Many see differences as abnormal. I'm seeing a lot of this in comments about some Kentucky clerks who won't issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Gays aren't 'normal' or 'natural' & can't have kids the old fashioned way, so they're 'dysfunctional' according to a lot of the bible-thumpers. I pointed out that using the word 'natural' in that context to humans is silly, but that seemed to go over their heads. Not that big a leap in this case, but the same sort of thinking can apply in many subtler ways.

Sometimes, it's better when an SF writer gets us so far outside our cultural norm that we can look back on it without reality intruding. LeGuin's people that changed sex regularly & naturally was easier for many to handle than the idea of a gay person back when the book was written.


message 23: by Brendan (new)

Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments But C.E. didn't say "Many see differences as abnormal." He equated the two, or at least that was my interpretation. I think you're congratulating him for a point that he didn't make.


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2177 comments One thing I look for in many stories is the ability to identify with the main character. Not every story, but the majority of my favorite ones have a guy as the MC & he's doing something I like. If I don't like, can't identify with or understand/believe in the motivations of the MC, I generally don't like the book. A good example would be Clavell's Asian Saga. I really liked Tai-pan & Noble House, both featuring strong heroes in tough spots that won out (sort of). Gai-jin's MC wasn't & didn't. I didn't like the book much at all.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

First, there were the Teen-aged Muntant Ninja Turtles...then there were the Radioactive Biker Mice from Mars...then there were the Pre-Teen Dirty-Gean Kung-Fu Kangaroos....now I give you....

TIME TRAVLEING HAPPY CATS!!!!

The Happy Cats love the old SF (pre-New Wave) and exist to vote Spooky a Hugo at the next WorldCon...never mind he's never wrote anything, we can come up with some silly one-time category he fits in....SIGN UP NOW!!!!


message 27: by C.E. (new)

C.E. Martin (cemartin2) | 39 comments Jim wrote: "Brendan wrote: "I don't agree with equating the terms non-traditional with abnormal. Abnormality implies aberration or dysfunction. All sort of non-traditional things are totally normal. "

I think..."


I need a new dictionary, I guess. I thought Abnormal meant not normal, and that normal and traditional had comparable meanings.

The OP asked why the pushback. The answer: because people don't like change. They don't like different. "Diversity" is just the PC term for non-traditional. Non-traditional is by it's very definition abnormal.

Have a morning routine? Maybe wash your face, put on deodorant, then brush your teeth? What if one day you brushed your teeth first? It would be abnormal of you. I'm not saying it's good or bad--the perception of the abnormal, non-traditional as bad is a completely different argument.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

We have had a meeting of the Time Travleing Happy Cats...we have a plan...instead of voteing me a Hugo, we are going to steal one of Harlan Ellison's and change the inscription...we won't get cought, cause Harlan has no idea how many Hugos he has, he can't count that high....


message 29: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2177 comments Brendan wrote: "But C.E. didn't say "Many see differences as abnormal." He equated the two, or at least that was my interpretation. I think you're congratulating him for a point that he didn't make."

Well, it did to me, at least the overall point of the post. I think you're seeing more as Terrica is & as it should be. Diversity isn't necessarily bad, but it is different & many aren't comfortable with any changes, even small ones. Maybe especially small ones.

I'm the most normal married person around - over 30 years with 2.7 kids (The Girl is short, so we count her as the .7). We still had to get a license at the clerk's office, sign wills (even though we own almost everything jointly) health proxies & powers of attorney. What difference would it make to anyone else if my wife's name was Mark instead of Marg? Apparently it would upset a lot of strangers, though. They're brawling about it all over the state. I don't get it, but the evidence is all too plain.


message 30: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2177 comments I hit post too fast. The reason why the Mark/Marg thing came up is that I got a new salesman today who misheard me when I said my wife's name. It was quite sometime before he realized his mistake & his demeanor completely changed when he did. Too late. I guess some strife is a good thing. It boils up the idiots.


message 31: by E.D. (new)

E.D. Lynnellen (EDLynnellen) | 126 comments Hey...., I wrote a likable black lesbian competently handling a position of authority involving--among other terrestrials-- two alien mechanics that resemble male genitalia.

Which of those characteristics do you think I've gotten the most "ewww, why?" responses from? :}


message 32: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 337 comments Here is an article summarizing the controversy fairly accurately:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/book...

It is perfectly easy to nominate for the Hugos. You just buy a supporting membership -- no need to travel to Kansas City or Helsinki or whatever. If every fan nominated what they considered to be the best work, then the Puppies would have no traction.


message 33: by D. (new)

D. Snyder | 51 comments Terrica wrote: "... with the emergence of self-publishing, a lot of authors can get their work out there without someone saying, "You don't look like a science fiction or mystery writer."

Exactly why I included the reference. When it comes to the traditional publishing world, the "gatekeepers" (agents, editors, et al.) can (often do/did) make those kinds of judgments. Which can be maddening, since the customer could so easily be made blissfully unaware.

Working with a traditional publisher, we once had an artist we were going to send to a show. We explained to him that because he was going to be interacting with people, it was important that we make changes to disguise his normal self. Most people would be horrified to learn we did that, until we explain that the major change we wanted him to make was to "use soap occasionally."


message 34: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2177 comments LOL, D. Having lived in dorms & barracks with a couple of such stinkers, I can totally understand.


message 35: by Terrica (new)

Terrica Duncan (myjoyandlight) | 9 comments @D. Snyder wrote: Most people would be horrified to learn we did that, until we explain that the major change we wanted him to make was to "use soap occasionally."

Uh...I can understand the reasoning for that. Eeewww. Although a proponent of body odor could argue that it was the man's right to stink! LOL!!!


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