How about we listen instead of telling people to shut up?

The science fiction genre is very white male dominated and it’s not a surprise that many anthologies are filled with primarily white male authors. It’s the way it’s been for years. And the truth of it is, it’s not going to change unless people protest. As long as white males have power and privilege they can and will control everything including what goes into those SF anthologies. So yes, when an anthology comes out and it’s filled with only white male authors I’m not surprised that people are upset, nor am I surprised that they will protest the anthology.

This paragraph was edited to fix some badly worded sentences: Yes it’s important for the anthologies to contain the best stories written, but claiming that the editor was looking for the “best” and that’s why there weren’t any female or authors of color in the book is troubling. Perhaps the editors aren’t actually being being racist/sexist, but I’d still wonder why they didn’t look harder for female authors and authors of color. I doubt there aren’t ever ANY great stories by female or authors of color in the topics they’re looking for.

And telling people to “shut up” about it, only makes you look like a jerk and if you’re a white male saying it? A privileged jerk – because really, you have nothing to worry about. You never have to worry about being represented fairly in a book. You never have to worry that your story is going to be rejected because of your gender or the color of your skin.

Before you get all up in arms about people complaining “too much” how about you take a step back and consider what’s happening. Pay attention and listen, you just might learn something.

ETA – (Monday, October 12th) : And when called on it – be like John, and admit that you messed up and apologize.

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7 Responses to How about we listen instead of telling people to shut up?

  1. Trisha says:

    I would have to agree with you that the science fiction genre is dominated by white men, primarily because due to their historical position of power they have been permitted and encouraged to write and hence have been astronomically more prolific than any other group of people. The amount of SF books written by white men far exceeds the amount written by non-white-males and females, which also means we have a much better chance of finding the “best” among male writers. And I’m willing to bet that if we listed the top 100 SF writers, the majority would be white men.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t diversify anthologies – bring on the women and non-white-males. I am, however, saying we should be careful when calling someone racist when they don’t include a large portion of non-white-males and females in an anthology. For one thing, it might just be that the “best science fiction short stories involving necromancy” were written by white men. If the exclusion is glaringly obvious, then it’s a different story of course. Second, do we get mad when an anthology doesn’t contain a single work by a white man? Are those editors racist?

    I tell you, Jen, your posts really get me thinking! Love it!

  2. Jen says:

    I could have worded that paragraph better. In fact I think I’ll edit in a moment – because you’re right, may not all be racist/sexist (at least not intentionally).

    Second, do we get mad when an anthology doesn’t contain a single work by a white man? Are those editors racist?

    The point is that white males have privilege – they don’t NEED to worry about being included in anything.

  3. Trisha says:

    I think you worded the paragraph just fine! It’s such a conundrum really because how can we tell if it was racist/sexist or not unless we judge by the inclusion of non-white-males and females? I know, I know, I practically contradict myself, but it’s because it’s such a difficult question for me.

  4. Jen says:

    The real issue I was trying to get at isn’t a question of “are the editors really being racist/sexist when their anthologies are filled with white male authors” but rather that telling people to shut up for complaining is rude, among other things.

    By telling people to “shut up” people (usually white males) are shutting down all conversation usually, because they don’t want to hear it. The only way things are going to change is if people protest, and protest loudly until someone pays attention. Yes it means some editors who are innocent are going to get accused of things they didn’t actually do but it doesn’t change the fact that there ARE editors out there filling their books with white male authors without even TRYING to include female authors and authors of color.

    It’s like what I was getting at with my previous post about Stereotypes in entertainment – those stereotypes are perpetuated by people who don’t really pay enough attention to what is going on around them. They may not think they are sexist or racist, but it doesn’t change the fact that the ways some of their characters are portrayed are troubling.

  5. Trisha says:

    Agreed, completely. You are so much fun to talk to! :)

  6. John says:

    Jenn,

    Thank you for your gracious forgiveness.

    For anyone who read my original article, I apologize for my meanness and small-mindedness. You can find a public apology on my site.

  7. This problem is not unique to sf; as a scientist and a writer, I encountered it in many self-labeled “progressive” movements. More here:

    Is It Something in the Water? Or: Me Tarzan, You Ape
    http://www.starshipreckless.com/blog/?p=712

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