When men disagree with others it’s a robust addition to free speech, when women disagree with men it’s to silence them

This time it’s women objecting to sexist content in the professional magazine for the Science Fiction Writers Of America who are causing Deep Rifts™. Pointing out that discussing female editors and writers in terms of how good they look in a bathing suit is a blatantly disrespectful trivialision of the work these women do and would never happen in a discussion of male editorsand writers and is therefore sexist and a double standard: that sort of talk is, according to the two men who did that, a call for censorship and suppression of their free speech.  As for complaining in the SWFA forum about a male columnist recommending women take Barbie as a role model to “maintain our quiet dignity as a woman should”?  Well, that was just making the forum  “the arena for difference”.

Hey, whatever happened to all that free speech crowd’s support for their beloved aphorism: “the only remedy for bad speech is more speech”?

Oh yeah – the ideal of more and more and more speech being an axiomatic good only applies when it’s men who are expressing contrary opinions to others. When women express our contrary opinions to men, we’re trying to silence them entirely. Because we’re just that evil and divisive.

It’s double standards all the way down. (And before anybody in the atheoskeptosphere starts Vaculating along the lines of “what about your double standards?” with respect to women identifying “what-Vacula-calls-disagreement” as an intimidatory silencing campaign, if only all the Vaculators were doing was “disagreeing” then you might have a point, but that isn’t what’s happening and you know it.  Refusing to engage with vexatious “you’re not allowed to ignore me” types is not a refusal to defend one’s ideas generally: it’s simply being aware that DARVO is the game being played and refusing to play it.)

Assorted commentary

Kameron Hurley: Dear SFWA Writers: Let’s Chat About Censorship & Bullying

Here are some tips on how to take criticism, real criticism, on the internet, from somebody who has been dealing with both sides of this for a decade:

Start actually listening. For once in your privileged life, listen. Listen. Because if I punched you, and you said “Gosh, that really hurt” and I said, “YOU ARE FUCKING CENSORING ME YOU FUCKING COMMUNIST” you’d think I was insane.

Listen. Do better. Understand privilege and power. Understand why people didn’t speak up before. Why you didn’t hear it before. If you hit somebody, and you really didn’t mean to would you say, “Well, it’s your fault for having tits?” or would you say “I’m so sorry I hit you. That wasn’t my intention. I will actively work to not hit you in the future.”

I know what somebody who was genuinely interested in open, honest, respectful dialogue with people they considered humans and colleagues would do.

Betsy Dornbusch: another sfwa sexist gaffe

Props for using a female toy as an example, but it was clumsily done at best. The real reason Barbie has maintained her staying power is a well-laid foundation of being the only toy designed for girls, millions of dollars in marketing, and a distinct continuing lack of competition. And really, if Barbie is the best example of a woman, or anyone, with staying power, then the world is in a heap of trouble. Actually, the choice to use her is indicative of the real problem: many men have difficulty thinking of examples of successful females. Why? Because Ken actually IS in our way, and we have sat quiet too long. Well, that, but it’s also a damaging misconception that there aren’t any good examples. There are myriad choices for a female example right in our own genre. I know many of these women personally, and the last way I’d describe them is “quietly dignified.”  Most of the women writers I know are noisily, joyfully enthusiastic! Quietly dignified gets ignored in our genre, and in the world at large.

Jason Sanford: Feeling heat for your ideas is not censorship or thought-control

When Resnick and Malzberg compare the heat they’re feeling for stating their beliefs with censorship and thought-control, they are playing a version of the political correctness card. We’ve all seen this before, where someone complains because they—horror of horrors—have to actually stand up for what they believe in instead of automatically having their beliefs agreed with.  But as the Supreme Court said, this is actually a good thing because it results in honest debates and discussions, which is how both societies and people grow and change.

So yes, I’m glad the Bulletin printed their thoughts. I have no desire to censor their opinions, nor does anyone I know. If you want to live in an economic free market, you can’t then whine about defending your beliefs in the marketplace of ideas.

h/t Pharyngula


Categories: arts & entertainment, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, language, social justice

Tags: , , , ,

12 replies

  1. I wish people defending ‘freedom of speech’ to use racist, sexist, abusive or generally horrible language would ask themselves, ‘Is what I am saying making it easier for other people to express their views?’
    Because then they would have to honestly answer ‘no’. And then they would have to honestly think, ‘what I am doing is making it harder for people to speak and harder for people to listen to them, what a complete and utter hypocritical fuck I am’.

  2. Yes, but you see, Pen, Freedom Of Speech is clearly there to protect the freedom of the most reactionary, hidebound sectors of the population to be able to repeat their Views (which are, of course, 100% Right) without correction, contradiction, or comment from anyone else. I’m sure it’s in the US Constitution somewhere, just after the bit which makes it clear amendments to the US Constitution apply to all countries and all legal jurisdictions world-wide, and that the first amendment applies to both governmental and non-governmental actions.
    The point being, the types of people who are using “free speech” as their defence against correction, contradiction or condemnation aren’t interested in hearing someone else’s views, or considering things from a different perspective. They don’t care about those. What they care about is making sure their words are heard to the exclusion of all others.
    There’s actually a technical term for the type of person who does such things in conversation – we called them “bores”. I suspect the word is related to the term “boor”, which means a rude or bad-mannered person. Oddly enough, we don’t seem to see “bore” being thrown around online as a term of polite abuse – maybe it’s time to begin a revival?

  3. (Incidentally, the SFWA was pretty much due for a scandal again – they seem to have one every two or three years, rather like clockwork. This time it’s happening on Scalzi’s watch, and I’m going to be interested in seeing how he deals with the whole business. He’s been off on a book tour recently, as well as getting ready to hand over the whole boiling to the new President, so that may explain why things are hitting the fan now rather than earlier or later in the year).

  4. Yep, Megpie, exactly. Apparently asking a reactionary bore to shut up long enough to listen to someone else is limiting his freedom of speech, but him shouting others down is somehow fine.

  5. Megpie71 if I could like or favourite your whole comment at 2 I would. Well said.

  6. [comment deleted by author request]

  7. begin{grump}
    Could someone send some of those women, the ones who we’re told are so good at “silencing men”, over here to the USA? I’ve got a little list of men who we’ve been hearing far too much from who could really use some “silencing.”
    And when they’re done “silencing” here, I can think of a few other places….

  8. FWIW, here’s the response (so far) from the SFWA:
    It’s a little burocratic for my taste, especially since John Scalzi is involved, who I had always thought “got it,” but maybe it’s that he’s limited by having to work with people whose perspective he doesn’t agree with.

    • I’m sure that there are many constraints operating on what Scalzi can do/say about this in an environment where 48 members recently voted for the odious Theodore Beale in the presidential ballot, whose platform was mostly about how women shouldn’t be members of the SWFA at all.
      He’s been pushing hard to make the culture and practises of the SWFA more inclusive, and it seems that a significant number of the longterm members don’t like it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the articles in question were deliberately provocative, as a “protest”, either.

  9. Well, the SFWA represents around 1800 writers – so those 49 (TB and his 48 supporters) are less than 3% of the total membership. However, the figure I don’t know is how large a proportion of the voting membership in the SFWA elections they were.
    Oh, and I’m predicting the next comment from Resnick and Malzberg will be the old classic “we were just having a bit of fun” (aka “it’s just a joke”). Anyone want to give me odds for that one?

%d bloggers like this: