Anyone following my twitter feed might have noticed an increase in the rant-quotient of late. Yeah, getting involved with the latest SFWA kerfuffle over sexism in their Bulletin magazine...probably not the wisest of moves.
The teeth-grindingly annoying part is I'd like to think I'm on the side of 'good'. Greater diversity of voices and perspectives leads to a greater number of interesting and imaginative stories, which can only be a good thing. And frankly, some of the shit women writers had to put up with in the past was abominable.
But I also subscribe fully to freedom of expression, and the chilling effect of censorship, whether it be the dictionary definition of the word or the quasi-censorship by mob that essentially results in the same outcome, scares me greatly. My publisher, eXcessica, was nearly shut down when our payment processor, an organisation with an effective monopoly, had a sudden attack of morality. So yep, censorship, or rather the not-quite-censorship we don't have a proper word for, concerns me a lot.
The problem is whenever someone tries to voice these concerns they usually get a battering. Some of the people reading this (who am I kidding, I'm a grotty horror/porn writer, no one is reading this) are probably already rolling their eyes and thinking:
"Here we go again, another stupid SWM that completely doesn't get it. All 'Blah blah Art! blah blah Fantasy! blah blah Censorship!' Thinking it's all about him, him, him. People are offended! Our souls are hurting!"
I'm just a little concerned about the whole burning of stuff. Can we not just create more cool, imaginative stuff to please a bigger, more diverse audience? That seems better to me than taking stuff away from the audience that's already there. Is a picture of a warrior woman in a bikini really that--
"Sexist! Disrespectful to woman! And totally unrealistic. She's a fighter, not a glamour-puss sex symbol."
Um, isn't unreality sort of the whole point of fantasy, a precious little glimmer of escapism from humdrum lives. It might not be your fantasy, but the imagination is a really big thing. When you can create anything, it seems a bit mean to stomp all over someone else's fant--
"It's wank fodder for sad inadequates who don't know how to deal with a real woman!"
That's a little harsh, but so what if it is. It's their fantasy, their little glimmer of escapism. Can they not--
"Oh shut up! You're just another spoilt geek. Go back down to your basement and take your neckbeard and bad hygiene with you!"
Ironically, despite my earlier posts expressing 'silly' concerns about censorship, I was Jim Hines'ing one of many comments like the one above to show how offensive it would look if you gender-flipped the terms, when The Guardian censored me.
Yep, that fluffy bastion of liberalism, The Guardian. Achievement unlocked: Censored by The Guardian.
They didn't need to shout "Shut up!" at me. You don't need to tell people to "Shut up!" when you can press a button and, poof, they are shut up. Funnily enough the original comment is still there. Yep, a quote of it with "men" switched to "women" was deemed to offensive to exist, but the original is fine. I guess it's perfectly okay to describe the gaming/sci-fi/fantasy community as having a high number of "unattractive, unhygenic, neckbeard types", with a "complete lack of ability in finding a partner".
Gee whiz, why is there this backlash from the gaming community, I wonder?
I did point out the double standards. That comment did well. It nearly lasted a full half hour.
They don't need to froth and rave, "Shut up!" They press a button and you are
But it's not censorship. It's their paper. It's their choice over what comments appear in the discussion. They have that right. It's fine. I won't be reading it in future.
This was not a debate or discussion. It's diktat. "You will think and say what we think you should think and say, otherwise you can go and stand in the shit with the other bigots and misogynists."
No. I'll take a third option. I'm out. I'm exiting the Holier-Than-Thou wars. I'm disengaging. It's that or let the radioactivity build up until one morning I wake up and find I'm standing in the shit with all the other frothing loonies.
Tell the truth, I'm a little concerned I might be standing in it already.
I hope not. I quite like that whole diversity thing of people of all stripes letting their imaginations spill out without some mean fucker standing in the way and telling them they can't.
Not that what I think matters a damn jot. After all, I'm
Well not entirely. I'm not truly censored. I can write this and post it to the great dark outerness of the internet. It might not be lost forever. It might even bubble up to the heady circles of the twitterati, where the fully evolved elite can point and laugh at another frothing neckbeard ape. Ooo, if I'm really lucky I might even get to be described as very special.
Then again, it might be best to not hit that post button. Not good to speak out of line. Might jeopardize the...actually it's really more of hobby than a career. Still, there's always the worry of my writing being
Urp. Sorry about that. You know how it is, sometimes you have something you really need to cough up off your chest. In this case it's black, sludgy and I think those are eyes. I'll kill it with fire later just to make sure.
Don't worry, I'm not going to make a habit of this. I'm out. Weight lifted. Shits no longer to be given.
Time to get my head down and back to the stories. That's what it's all about. Create fantasies...provide escapism...entertain...delight. Fuck the other shit.