MoonFail: Why I’m Going To WisCon Next Year

MoonFail: Why I’m Going To WisCon Next Year

I made the decision last night that I’m still going to WisCon. I know many people are thinking hard about whether they want to or not. I’m going to give you my reasons because I want to influence others positively. But, like Nisi Shawl, I would  understand and respect those who still don’t want to.

Nisi is my number one reason for still attending the con. There are two guests of honor, and she is the other one. I don’t want to miss a year in which I can take part in honoring her because she deserves it.

Second on this list is this: the first year I attended WisCon I saw few faces of color. Nick Mamatas later told me that when he asked a group of attendees why there weren’t more black people at the con, the response was: “Well, have you met Tempest?” That was 2003. In that time, I have gone from merely being an attendee who loves the con to being actively involved in making the con a better place. I did not do this alone. There is a cadre of wonderful people (of all races/ethnicities) who have fought hard for a long time to make the con more inclusive, more aware, more of a home for feminists of every stripe.

In the past three years we’ve gone from having to fight for a POC-only space where important discussions can take place that relate to our part of the community to having that space as a given. There is now a fund dedicated to helping POC get to the con so that they can participate in the discussions, bring in new viewpoints, and add to the general awesomeness. We had a POC-only dinner this past year that was so full I didn’t get a chance to really meet everyone, and didn’t contain the totality of the POC there.

WisCon is the only con where I see that kind of movement happening[1] and I want to be part of continuing that, growing it, making it even better.

Third reason is related. As Chris points out here, “…while Moon is a problem, the response lets me know that short of a significant change in philosophy, the concomm is the real problem, because hate language is a problem… our problem, not theirs. She won’t be there next year, but they will be.” Up until now my part in making WisCon a more awesome con has all been from the role of participant and loud attendee. But in order to make more fundamental changes, this will have to change. There are several people on the current concom who disagree with the decision made by the Troika, and more voices will help.

Fourth reason. In my last post I talked about how it shouldn’t be on the people hurt by oppressive words and actions to erase those attitudes and make a better community. It should be on allies. Well, I am not Muslim. Elizabeth Moon’s post wasn’t about people like me. So it’s incumbent on me to do what I can to make Muslim attendees feel comfortable and safe coming to the con, to foster discussion that erases ignorance and prejudice, and to make WisCon a better place for everyone, including Muslims, including myself, including you. I can’t do that if I don’t go.

Fifth reason is what Nisi said: I really do not give a freeze-dried rat’s ass about turning the con into an anti-fail teach-in. Especially if it involves 101-level debate. Especially if Muslims and Arabs and recent immigrants and POC are doing the heavy lifting. I am old, dudes, and have seen National Brotherhood Weeks come and go. A celebration is what I am after. Defiance may play a huge role in this celebration, and it may well have important instructional elements, but in its core nature it needs to be joyful.

So, I am going. Are you?

Footnotes

  1. With the exception of conventions that were conceived with that purpose in mind.[]

Comments

  1. says

    I would love to go; honestly, the only reason I wouldn’t is that I am beholden to the academic calendar, and it may not be feasible.

    But I have never attended WisCon and have wanted to for some time. Why not next year, particularly since I’m a big admirer of Nisi Shawl as a writer and a person?

  2. Jackie M. says

    I want to stand and be counted. And while boycotts have their place, and I expect the concom would notice if drastically fewer people came, Wiscon isn’t a for-profit business. And it’s too easy to ignore people who aren’t present–how many people would have come this year anyway? Maybe it’s recession-related?

    But if a whole lot of people stand up and leave during Moon’s speech, and then many or most of those people file back in during Shawl’s speech, I think THAT will bloody well make an impression.

  3. Helen says

    I’m in. I haven’t been to WisCon for a few years, for various reasons, and I haven’t loved some of the stories I’ve heard coming out of it in that time. Sitting on the sidelines shaking my head won’t make things any better: going, and trying to participate in a way that will hopefully encourage change? Yeah, better.

  4. Zola says

    I was a first-timer at WisCon in 2010, and attended the PoC dinner after your personal invitation, which I appreciated. The con was big, and busy, and I didn’t get to chat with many PoC in person outside one of the parties and a couple of hallway conversations. I think I saw more of the PoC when I attended panels. I’ve already made plans to attend in 2011 if I can get the time off.

    Without restating everything already that has been said here and elsewhere, I also would like to be there when WisCon honors Nisi Shawl. I was glad to hear that she had been selected as the GoH, and was looking forward to a formal acknowledgment of such a wonderful writer, someone who has consistently been welcoming to and considerate of other PoC in the SF/F – Spec fic community.

  5. says

    My reasons for not going have to do with time and money, both are tied up with school right now. But as for this Moon thing — look, people say stupid things, people think stupid things. I wouldn’t let that steal my joy. And WisCon sounds joyful. Actually, I won’t feel complete until I’ve made this particular pilgrimage. So please, if you were planning to go, GO! and enjoy. Forget Moon and her silly statements. From the looks of it (and I saw all this after the comments were erased) the community reacted exactly the way they were supposed to react. In other words, my Muslim brothers and sisters, most in the scifi community doesn’t feel this way. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing indeed.

  6. says

    I can’t go because I’ll be finishing my part of the book looking at the history of the American Slave Coast: The Interstate Naval Trade and the Making of the United States.

    This is always such a very busy time of the year with deadline after deadline.

    But if ever there is a year I’d fight to go, this is it. So I’m still gonna try. Isolated in this non-served by public transport of any kind area of the MD eastern shore.

    Love, c.

  7. says

    I’ll be there. I knew all along I would be there, though. I’m local and not who she attacked, so it’s low risk for me, so showing up to support the people she hurt seemed the choice. I figured I had a better chance at helping fix this if I was at the con, protesting, supporting, whatever.
    And Nisi. I will not let Moon’s bullshit keep me from a chance to honor and celebrate Nisi.

  8. says

    Jenn, I really encourage you to apply for financial assistance from con or bust for next year. The fund is specifically there for people like you. It would be awesome to have you at WisCon!

  9. says

    I would like to go. For the reasons that you’re saying, and because I don’t want to be chased away.

    But I’m in some ways close enough to Moon’s targets that dealing with this shit will be hard on my health, and my health is not all that.

    So basically the concom’s decision has also made one of the few fucking disability-safe places around unsafe, and I just don’t know if I can manage.

  10. says

    I am so glad to hear that you will be there Tempest. Its a given I will be there. This is the ONLY con I attend. I’m broken-hearted that the conversation focuses on Moon and whether she can be made to understand her error or whether the whole convention can be turned into a “teachable” moment. These issues won’t be solved by changing one individual at a time. That is an ineffective strategy with an unacceptably high cost for all the POC involved. But, I still believe that SF has the opportunity to change the whole f-g popular culture, if we have a place to encourage upcoming WOC (not because they’re of color – but because ALL newbie writers are such fragile creatures),a dealer’s room to put our money where our mouths are and encourage the small presses to publish the books we want to buy. I don’t want this convention to be about Moon. I want it to be about dancing with Nisi.