Storify: Margaret Atwood and SFF

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

[Content Note: Sexual Assault]

[redacted username] Is Atwood avoiding the term SF in her career because she's a snob?

No, and I hate when guys do this without recognizing that SFF is rife with sexual assault.

Also: Atwood isn't currently avoiding the SFF term. That's an old take that won't die. She did at one time disclaim the label but has since said she didn't understand the genre well enough to see how it applied to her work.

BUT ALSO, the SFF upper levels she'd be thrust into include men who sexually assault their peers. Asimov and Harlan are some of MANY. Harlan Ellison groped Connie Willis's breast on stage in 2006. TWO THOUSAND AND SIX. Atwood's Handmaid's Tale was published in 1985. Same year as Mercenaries of Gor and Dancer of Gor. She had valid reason for concern that a story in which women are sex slaves AS A BAD THING might not fit with SFF audience expectations.


And, again, this is an old take that won't die. Atwood does not currently disclaim the SFF label. TL;DR: Men need to shut the fuck up about Atwood for not wanting to be groped at SFF conventions. I wouldn't've in her place, either.

Your god Isaac Asimov prowled conventions grabbing women's butts because he got off on sexual assault. Harlan Ellison groped Connie Willis's breast on stage in 2006. ON STAGE IN PUBLIC. Faced no charges for sexual assault. And there are predators in the SFF community even now. So no, it's not "genre snobbery" for a woman to nope out of that.

I may just tweet "Isaac Asimov was a serial committer of sexual assault" every day until I die because guys are ALWAYS like "zomg? I didn't know!" WELP. Now you do. You gonna remember or immediately forget because it's uncomfortable to you?

And, like, faves can be problematic. *drapes big banner* This is the PROBLEM with the idea that assaulters are Inhuman and Evil and Utterly Awful because reality is different from that. You don't have to burn all your Asimov books or hate him or never utter his name in public. I harbor a fond for his Space Sherlock Holmes.

But folks DO need to hold "he was a sexual assaulter" in their head and consider that MAYBE that's why some women stay out of SFF. Atwood has been EXCORIATED for declaiming that label when it was thrust on her, but she had VERY GOOD REASONS to avoid the genre. She's a survivor of sexual violence who has written about sexual violence in almost all of her books.

And none of this stuff died with Asimov. I can almost guarantee there are SFF men on your bookshelves at home who have made SUPER gross comments about women. Like. For instance. Don't tell me SFF doesn't have creepy dudes.

Would you like a closer one to home? How about Piers Anthony mentioning me in his fan newsletter? In which a famous SFF author who massively influenced my childhood and writing opines that I "regard sex as a conspiracy to degrade women". Don't tell me SFF doesn't have creepy dudes.

Here's Pat R0thfuss being really gross about porn actresses to make zingers about the LOTR movies. Don't tell me SFF doesn't have creepy dudes. Like. That post is luridly bad and crammed to the brim with shaming of sex workers.

So don't you EVER tell me that women who don't want the SFF label thrust on them are "genre snobs". Women who leave STEM or SFF for survival aren't weak or bad. They are SURVIVING.

@Mooseplainer: [Asimov] He was asked to give a lecture about bum grabbing too!

THIS IS TRUE. It wasn't an "Asimov problem", it was a COMMUNITY PROBLEM. Don't tell me SFF doesn't have creepy dudes. Longer link about Asimov.

I saw "was", but really it "is". It IS a community problem of sexual assault. And that's not even getting into the hatred in SFF towards gay people, trans people, and DV survivors. *glares at Orson Scott Card*

Again: You can enjoy these authors! You don't have to burn their books! But you DO need to know these problems. Because we can't talk about the history of SFF and the present and the future without recognizing this atmosphere.

The rape culture that we swim in writ large is replicated by men in SFF, and that's why we see some women shy away from that community. The women who DO write for that community are brave shining stars! The women who leave and/or avoid are not "snobs", though. And all this is particularly relevant if/when a male SFF author starts dunking on the Romance genre.

Romance carved out its own science fiction and fantasy sub-basements. (I write Paranormal Fantasy Romance, hiiiiiiiiiiiii.) They're GOOD basements and cozy and we have cool video games and an air hockey table and I'll thank people not to snub their noses at us.

...that got away from me, but something something "buy my books!" I write fantasy and paranormal SF. And I've been personally called out by Piers Anthony for hating sex, which I 100% want in my obituary when the time comes.

Women and fembies who write SFF Romance are constantly given crap about it by men for being "porn" or genre impurity. Meanwhile, Gor exists. Don't tell me there aren't double standards in SFF or publishing in general when it comes to author gender and what's acceptable.


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