Oh Boob Grab, We’ll Miss Thee (actually, we won’t, but…)

Oh Boob Grab, We'll Miss Thee (actually, we won't, but...)

Yesterday when I found out about the open source boob project I figured I should write something up for FSFBlog about it. Something more comprehensive than WTF PEOPLE. However, Liz beat me to it! And brilliantly. Everyone should go read her post, cuz she has awesome links.

I am as impressed with the swiftness and voracity of the response to the original post as Liz is, but not entirely surprised. I think there is a lot of built-up, sometimes unspoken, anger about the issue of sexual harassment or skeeviness at cons or with the community in general. And it’s not just with the obvious crap from inappropriate touching or overtly creepy people, but also that subtle shit or with people who take advantage of the politeness, introversion, or shyness of the people–usually women–they are creepy and inappropriate and worse with.

And because it’s not completely over the line stuff like actual touching or actual verbal abuse, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do. Even I find myself struggling to get past the barrier of basic human politeness and have the courage to say, “Dude, you are creeping me the fuck out.”

I’ll give an example, since I’ve been telling folks about this a lot lately. I was at a big con a while back and met a person through mutual friends. Upon first meeting, this person seemed to be nice and friendly and someone I wouldn’t mind knowing. Later, at a party, I saw this person again when they approached me and proceeded to compliment my various physical attributes and declared me hot and sexy.

On the surface, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But the majority of the people reading this journal know that there’s a way in which someone can compliment your looks that is flattering, even a turn on. And then there’s ways they can compliment you that makes you want to have a very hot shower, perhaps with a nice exfoliating piece of brillo, just to be sure the slime goes away. But the person didn’t say something disgusting, didn’t slip me his room key and wink, didn’t touch me, didn’t threaten. It’s right on that edge of not cool, enough to make me go EWWWWEWEWEWOMGNO on the inside. On the outside, I just smiled and accepted the compliment (as young ladies are taught to do) and resolved to not go near that person again, if I could help it.

But, like I said, this was a friend of a friend, so I did see them again over the course of the con, and they continued to flirt and skeeve in my general direction. (and after that, friended me on LJ, moving into virtual skeeving. Lovely.) And even I marveled at why I couldn’t just say, “I do very much mind that you keep flirting with me, since you asked, because you’re ICKY.” But then, that’s really mean.

I suppose, when it comes down to it, I have ideas about when it’s appropriate to just cut someone down and when it’s not. Someone says something racist? Yes. Someone touches my person or the person of someone I know for a fact doesn’t want to be touched? Yes. Someone is just being generally creepy? Not so much.

Perhaps I should re-evaluate this. Because this is a problem. Not just at cons, not just with guys. (If I counted the # of times some women of my acquaintance have been completely inappropriate with the flirting and skeeving all over a person she KNOWS to be in a relationship… gah! Don’t get me started. Though I do recognize that the power dynamics with that are different.) And, at this point, as this boob touching thing has proven, even mild creepiness calls for swift, loud, direct correction. Honestly, how else is this crap going to stop?

I just realized I am sitting here getting angry because I was imagining the kind of bullshit I would hear from people if I were to ever go off on someone for being creepy but not over the line. People telling me that I’m being MEEN, or that just talking to someone privately would achieve more, and why should I completely embarrass that person when they may not even know they’re doing something wrong, or similar sentiments. Preemptively I say to that: BULLSHIT.

Just as I will not, WILL NOT, put up with racism or sexism when it’s seemingly not overt, I also will not put up with this skeeviness. Our community should not. And if I have to be the one to loudly proclaim “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME” in order to get my message across, regardless of who it embarrasses, then I will just have to.

That’s my project. Don’t have a cool name for it, though.

4 Things Make A Post

  1. Thank you, everyone, for the birthday wishes. They made me smile on a day when I didn’t have much to smile about.
  2. Don’t forget to enter our contest to win a copy of Fangland!  I mean, damn, most of you are writers, you just know you could come up with some fun fanfiction based on some H G Wells or something.
  3. Over on SFBookswap, Jasmine is now going to include the total # of stories and the # of female-written stories for each market (and a list at he bottom of markets who didn’t have any women-written fiction in a certain period).  I asked her to do this so we could keep rolling data on this stuff and make tallies and such at the end of the year.  When I do the print fiction roundup for May I’ll start the same.
  4. One of the things I noticed when I was collecting online data from last year is that Baen’s and IGMS seemed to have the lowest ratios.  It’s weird because I get the impression that the older and/or more established SF writers who don’t really know much about what’s going on with online markets seem to be okay with Baen’s (and possibly IGMS).  I was talking to Nancy Kress at World Fantasy and she told me she had a story coming up in Baen’s.  I waved my hand dismissively and said I didn’t red that market because if something’s online, I’m not paying to look at web content.  And she said to me, in a sort of bewildered tone like I was a small child, “But Tempest, how else will they get money to pay their authors?”  (I should pause here and say that Nancy wasn’t being condescending.  Rather, she is like the ultimate mother-ish person.  And ever since Clarion West, when I first met her, I’ve always felt rather like a small child whenever she talks to me, but in a good way.  Like somehow an apple pie is going to show up and I can suck my thumb and watch some cartoons and be snuggly safe.) Anyway, my point was that I wonder if there is a correlation?  Like, old guard SF is into Baen’s, so Baen’s publishes like an old guard magazine, complete with the lack of women in significant numbers.

Submitting Strategy

Submitting Strategy

Earlier this week I wrote a post about how Asimov’s, under Sheila Williams, has published more women this year (so far) than F&SF or Analog by a significant amount.  I mentioned this for several reasons, though probably not the one people think.  Though some people grokked my main reason, which was to make people (scratch) women aware of the markets they might deem “friendly” to them or their stories or the kind of stories they like to write.

Over and over I hear that women and men, in general, have different submitting strategies.  And that women, mostly, will stop sending stories to markets where they are sure that their stories have no chance.  In some ways, this is a good strategy.  It keeps one from sending stories about pretty, pretty princesses to Clarkesworld and gory horror stories to Realms of Fantasy. But then one runs the risk of rejecting the story for the editor, which doesn’t do anyone any good.  Finding a sensible balance between those two extremes is, well, sensible. But a key element in finding that balance is good information about a market.

If the common knowledge floating around is that this or that market doesn’t like girl stories or whatever, there’s a chance that people who write girl stories won’t send there. But if a market changes, or is looking to change, how is that common knowledge amended?  Though people pointing it out, talking about it, encouraging writers to update what they think they know.

More than once recently I’ve heard someone write Asimov’s off because of stuff that happened or stuff they read 5 or more years ago.  That was before the current editor.  Things have changed since then.  Things that matter to writers (like that goddamned form rejection we hated).  And one of those changes is the percentage of women in the magazine.  Maybe pointing this out will encourage women writers to pick up a few issues, read them, and submit themselves.  The more good writers in the slushpile, the more good stories in the magazine.  It follows.

Ann Vandermeer posted an interesting comment to Jeff’s response to my post:

Just a FYI. Opened up my WT submissions email account this morning. 25 new submissions. 22 from men, 3 from women. This is the typical submissions ratio I receive for Weird Tales (this is just from overnight – I’ll get more in during the day….)

Weird Tales is another example of a magazine that has gone through changes (major changes, in fact) and may still suffer from wrong “common knowledge” about what kind of stories they publish and that they’re more interested in what men write than what women write.  Now, I don’t know Ann, and I’ve only read one issue with her picks so far, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that she probably isn’t more interested in the stories that men write.  What she is interested in is up to her to show us as the magazine continues.  But if I were a writer (oh, I am), and also a woman (batting 2 for 2 here), I would definitely get right on sending her appropriate stories and not automatically assuming that she doesn’t want my fiction.  There are an awful lot of men who are doing this thing.  And it would please me above anything to have really strong female writers making their mark on that slushpile, amongst others.

I’m on the Tiptree jury!

I'm on the Tiptree jury!

Now that the other jurists are confirmed, I can jump up and down about this in public. Debbie Notkin asked me to be on the 2009 Tiptree jury, which means I, along with other fabulous people, will pick the winners from 2008 published fiction.

I’m so excited about this I cannot tell you. It’s a real honor to be asked, especially because this award is close to my heart.

I foresee many, many months of reading ahead of me, not to mention getting to know the UPS guy really well.

Dear People On The Internet

Dear People On The Internet

Something you’ve perhaps failed to understand over the last 15 or so years:

Reply –> Sends email to the person who sent it and only that person.

Reply to All –> Sends email to everyone on the “To” line of the original email plus the original sender.

Times where clicking Reply To All is appropriate:

  1. You know everyone in the group and what you have to say pertains to all/most of you.
  2. It is not a note/message meant for only the person who sent the original message.

Times when clicking Reply to All is not appropriate:

  1. 98% of your life on the web, people.

Seriously, the Reply to All should never, ever, ever, ever be your default clicky button when replying to emails. If you cannot help but click that button because of some curious disease of the mind (or habit, whatever), then remove that button from your interface. Don’t know how to do that? Ask a teenager.

Because, really, the number of you people out there who do not understand this, and the number of you who run businesses on the Internet and yet do not understand this to a crippling degree, appalls me. There is no reason for this foolishness.

No love,


Related Letter:

Dear People Who Design Email Programs,

Help us out, here. Make it so every time someone clicks “Reply to All” a window or dialogue box pops up and says: “Do you really want to do that? Reply To All is only appropriate when…”

Make it so that only people who really understand computers can figure out how to turn this off. You’re good at that, especially if you work for Microsoft.

If you do this, you’d be doing the rest of us a huge favor, thanks.



Branching Out

Branching Out

We’re adding several new features/columns at Fantasy magazine over the next few months.  (And I’m in charge!  Wooo!  I love being in charge.) One of the more fun aspects is getting in more different types of reviews.  TV, Film, Comic Books, etc. (I asked Wil Wheaton to do the comic column, he never answered me.  Now I can’t decide if it’s because my email got lost/overlooked or because he was insulted that I said we couldn’t pay.)

Anyway, the first of our film reviews is up today.  Genevieve Valentine gave up several hours of her life–at dear cost, I might add–to watch and review a SciFi channel miniseries.  All to make you people laugh.  So go over there and read it.

I will say, the majority of our reviews will not be so heavily styled.  But once I read the text she gave me, it had to be done that way.

Next week I talk about that damn Torchwood finale of fail and perhaps the Doctor Who first two episodes of win.

What Is Going On With Me

I am going to various social functions this week and missing some others and there is a lot going on with me. And as I know that I am not myself at the moment, I should probably explain somewhat.

Yesterday my grandmother died. She’s been sick for a long time and a few months ago the doctors informed us that her heart was failing and that she did not have very long to live. Cue the bit where I say this was expected, yes, but still hits me hard, yes. The funeral is this Saturday, which means that I’m going to miss ComicCon, which isn’t so big a deal, but also means that I’m attending a funeral on my birthday, which I am intellectually aware I should be somewhat upset about but can’t bring myself to feel much of anything at the moment.

I still don’t know how/if this will affect my Thursday birthday plans.  I do know that I won’t be having the party on Sunday, so I’ll email folks to reschedule.  I’ve made plans to have someone else do my duties at ComicCon, so that is mostly covered.  I will be at KGB this week.

Whenever something like this happens, most people’s first reaction is to ask “How are you?” or say, “Are you doing okay?” and the answer I will inevitably give is I am fine and Yes. But may I ask, if folks don’t mind, that you please not ask me those questions?  Or, really, ask me anything about it at all?  In general, I am not doing well and I don’t really want to talk about it.  And as with the days and months and years after my mother died, my reaction to anyone saying “I’m so sorry” and “How are you?” is to barrel right through their kind words and on to some other topic.  Or, even worse, to wave my hand dismissively and say it’s okay or I’m fine or It’s nothing when it most certainly IS something.  But I do not deal with grief well, and certainly not in public, so if it’s all the same, I would rather just not have to tell everyone I am fine.

I realize I’m being very high-handed and dictating how people should deal with me at this point, but considering that I’m unable to function normally and people will probably be like WTF is wrong with you? because of it, I feel the need to explain.  It also heads off most of the WTF comments.