Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SF fandom continues to thrill

A couple of days ago I wrote about the case of a commenter who inadvertently made a poster's point, by arguing against it very carefully and calmly, while elf-refuting his point [*] that there is no bias against female critics when he mentioned that the female critic had probably just been venting to her friends, but now that the post had been mentioned by (male, natch) John Scalzi, it was worthy of his attention.

 SF has managed to do exactly the same thing again!

One person - a Penwing - had a very bad experience at the British Science Fiction Association awards presentation at Eastercon this year.  The talk by John Meaney (accompanied by PowerPoint slides!) went on forever, and contained sexist and ethnic 'humor' that seemed to stretch out forever. I wasn't there, but the evidence from the Twitter feed showed that many people felt more or less the same.  Penwing wrote:
"The "humour" in his [John Meaney's] speech was far too in-jokey. Now, I like a good in joke. Note, good in joke. And even then they should be used with caution. Meaney's speech was one in "joke" after another which relied on you being "in" for longer than I've been alive. That is not the image of fandom I want to see. It is not the image I want putting out of any organisation I am a member of. It excludes. Worse, it reflects on non-members as well and reflects on fandom in a completely inappropriate way. It got worse. In a masterclass on sexism, he proceeded to do a not very funny sketch making great pains to point out that Lauren Beukes is "hot". It gets worse. He started railing against "political correctness", gender parity and the "new man" (meaning someone who wouldn't define women by their looks)."
Penwing's blog post was followed by a comment from Martin McGrath (British Science Fiction fan of this parish) who mansplained carefully and rationally why Penwing's understanding of the situation was flawed. John Meaney was just joking, and racism, sexism, etc. didn't come into it.

 As part of the explanation, in a reasonable effort to be completely reasonable, MMG comes clean about the speech.
 "For example, as an Irishman, I wasn't wildly keen on the presentation of Dave Lally as a leprechaun..." 
 Own goal! Original point proven.

One of James Nicoll's commenters found an earlier version of MMG's comment that Google has managed to cache. (Nothing you ever write on the interwebs is lost) and that includes the nice line,
Honestly, I think some of the stuff I’ve read online and some of the shite I’ve had people spit in my face in the last few hours has been hysterical.
Which is especially great as "hysterical" refers to a mental condition caused by a disorder of the uterus - the quintessential sexist comment.  But he edited the post, so we shouldn't hold it against him.

[*] That should have been "self-refuting" but I think I'll leave it like that. :)

2 comments:

Martin McGrath said...

I have apologised for that post and resigned from the BSFA committee. I did not mean to appear to be defending John Meaney's comments. I thought I was stating clearly that I found them inappropriate and insensitive - not just the Irish ones, I say the same thing about what he said about Lauren Beukes and Lavie Tidhar. However I did think some of the responses I was exposed to at the convention - which accused me of having opinions I do not share and of being responsible for things I did not do - were unfair. However, I should not have gone online angry. I apologise if I offended anyone, it was not my intention.

Peromyscus said...

Hello Martin,

Thanks for your apology and I'm sorry you had to resign over the incident. I posted about the leprechaun reference more in humor than in righteous indignation and I hope I didn't come across as too mean. (I'm saving the righteous indignation for some of the comments on the Guardian article about Eastercon - they seemed to have been written by troglodytes.)

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