Tag Archives: Sad Puppies

An open letter to Puppies and everyone

So, about those Hugos…

A couple of days ago, I said the following in the comments on File 770.

I don’t consider myself a spokesperson for the SP, or even an SP notable, but I’ll say it. I never got involved in this with any idea that I’d even make the ballot, much less that VD would run his own campaign or that there would be a ballot sweep. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have participated. To the extent that I’ve been part of that, even unknowingly, I apologize.

Let me elaborate a little.

If you read Totaled and loved it enough to nominate it, thank you. That’s exactly how the Hugos are supposed to work, and it shouldn’t matter to me or anyone whether you identify as a Puppy or not. So if you’re one of those readers, then rock on. I am humbled and grateful for your support.

But as we know, Bob, there was a push this year to nominate things sometimes without having read them, and for reasons that had little to do with fannish enthusiasm. I never asked to be part of that, and had I been given the choice, I would not have wanted my work used that way.

I’m also not comfortable with the ballot sweep. My sense from the Sad Puppies is that locking up the ballot was never one of the goals of the movement, and that it was accidental, unintentional and unforeseen. If I’m wrong, and nominating five works in some of the categories was a deliberate attempt to sweep the ballot, then I wouldn’t have wanted to be part of that, either.

The Hugos should represent all voices, so if Sad Puppies is about drawing attention to works that might otherwise be overlooked, I can support that and I’m happy to stand for it. But if it’s about shutting out other voices and other work, if it’s about politics or pissing off certain segments of fandom, that’s not something I can get behind.

The whole point of fandom is that our love for the genre unites us. It’s about having a place where genre is paramount, where literature comes first. So if that’s who you are, and that’s what you want, then I’m with you. That’s why I invited everyone to talk about books here on my blog.

But if you’re in this with some other agenda, take it elsewhere. I don’t want to be part of it.

 

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Dear Puppies: Please talk about what you love

Hey, Puppies,

Can we talk?

I’ve been watching this Hugo thing unfold with an ever-growing sense of disquiet. A lot of people are angry right now, and the anger isn’t helping anyone. In fact, it’s hurting people all over fandom, no matter where they stand on the Hugos.

Sometimes anger is productive, but I haven’t seen anything remotely productive out of this yet, so maybe it’s time to start talking about books.

“Oh, so we’re supposed to make nice and sweep it all under the rug?”

No. Talking about books doesn’t sweep anything under the rug. What it does is build common ground, and common ground is that place where productive conversations can eventually happen. Anger and more anger just makes everyone defensive. Doors slam, walls go up and people become more insular, not less.

“Why us, Kary? Why do we have to go first?”  Because there’s a lot of our stuff on the ballot.

If you love it so much that you nominated it, it’s time to tell the world about it. Which is your favorite, Dark Between the Stars or Skin Game, or was it something else entirely? Write a post on why your pick is so awesome. Put it on your blog, your Tumblr, your Facebook, etc. Heck, put it here as a comment.

Then do the same for your second favorite or something in one of the other categories. If we all do that, the internet will be brimming with book recommendations instead of outrage, which, frankly, would make it a much nicer place to be than it is now.

“But they started it!” At some point, it doesn’t matter who started it.

You know what started it? Books started it. Stories we love, by authors we love. Middle Earth. Ringworld. Westeros. Gotham City. That’s what started it. Mary Shelley. H.G. Wells. Jules Verne. They started it, too.

So let’s take a page from the Dread Pirate Roberts. Let’s put down our swords and rocks and talk about books like the genre intended.

 

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On Anger, Power and Displacement in the Hugos

On anger, power and displacement

Today I’d like to talk about anger, power and displacement. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term displacement, it’s the idea that when a person of lower power or status feels threatened by a person of higher power or status, the threatened one will often displace their anger onto a less dangerous target.

In primate terms, a lower status monkey aggressed upon by a higher status monkey will not challenge the aggressor, but will instead go beat up the omega. So if your boss gives you a hard time, you kick your desk, slam your chair, flip off another driver on the way home and snap at your partner and/or children. You’re not angry at the desk, the chair, the driver or your family, but they’re less risky outlets than directing your anger into a confrontation with your boss, which is where the anger belongs.

Right now, people are very, very angry at Vox Day. They are also afraid of Vox Day. Afraid of violence. Afraid of doxxing and online harassment. Afraid of him or his followers showing up at WorldCon in person.

I don’t see a lot of anger directed at, say, Jim Butcher, who is a high status monkey – er, individual. 😉 Or at Kevin J. Anderson, also a successful, high status person. No, Jim and Kevin wouldn’t make good targets for displacement. Displacement usually falls on a person of lesser status and lesser power, someone who is less of a threat to the person doing the displacing.

So, who are the omega monkeys in this scenario? Well, they’re people like relatively unknown (and queer or female) short story authors. And, of course, the stories themselves, who aren’t human and can’t fight back or have their feelings hurt – sort of like that desk in my earlier example.

So someone who’s displacing can safely vent all of that hurt and anger by shredding a story because the story functions as a symbolic proxy, as a stand in for Vox Day. “I can’t get back at VD, but I can destroy his symbol, this thing he allegedly loves.” So by shredding the stories and the most vulnerable authors, people are, metaphorically speaking, burning Vox Day in effigy.

There’s just one problem with that: We are not Vox Day.

On Vietnam and its relevance to the Hugos (i.e. more displacement)

In the popular mindset, Vietnam is considered to be one of the ugliest wars ever fought. For the first time, Americans saw what up-close war was like. Night after night, they watched as blood, dirt, death and civilian massacres were piped into their living rooms through the wonder of television. They saw Agent Orange, and burned, naked children fleeing in terror.

Americans hated the war, so when the soldiers returned home, they displaced their anger onto the soldiers, reviling them, spitting on them and calling them baby killers.

Then, over the course of the next few decades, we grew to understand that we’d made a terrible mistake. So when next group of soldiers came home from a war that many Americans didn’t support, we didn’t spit and we didn’t call names. We’d learned that it was wrong to displace our anger onto the easy target. We said “Thank you for your service” even if we disagreed with the war.

But I don’t think we’ve learned that in the SFF community yet because we’re displacing our anger all over some of the Hugo nominees.

Vox Day spoke our names without our consent, and because of that we have been bullied in the news media and all over the internet. The women among us have been reviled as misogynist men, the minorities have been reviled as white racists, and the QUILTBAG authors and allies have been reviled as straight homophobes. We have been called assholes, bitches, mongrels, yapping curs, talentless hacks and so many more things that I can’t even name them all. I have seen at least one suggestion that all of us should be euthanized, a euphemism and allegedly funny word for murder.

There’s a trope made famous by Anita Sarkeesian that in the game of patriarchy, women aren’t the opposing team, they’re the ball. There’s a contingent that’s going to be upset that I’ve name checked Sarkeesian, but her comment is applicable to the Hugos, too. In the Hugo debate, the nominees aren’t the opposing team. We’re the ball.

We’re being kicked and bullied and savaged all over the internet.

And it hurts.

 

A gentle reminder: Comments are moderated.

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The Disavowal

There’s a call in certain corners of the internet for disavowals from people on the Sad Puppies slate.  Here’s mine:

I disavow racism wherever I find it.

Calling someone a half-savage because of race? I disavow it. Denying someone’s ethnicity and heritage because that makes it easier to stereotype them as  white oppressors? I disavow it. Calling a whole slate racist because of someone who’s not even on it or because some of the people are white? I disavow it.

My characters come from multiple races and ethnicities because they’re drawn from the vast diversity of the world around me. I write them as faithfully and authentically as I can. If I should stumble, my hope is that the world will correct me when needed and accept an apology when offered.

I disavow sexism.

My dyslexia went undiagnosed until college because my teachers attributed my struggles with math to my gender. “She doesn’t do well in math because she’s a girl. We don’t think she should take BASIC. She should try Home Ec instead.”

I write well-rounded, believable characters. Some of those characters are male. Some of those characters are female. Some are good; some are bad. Some are strong; some are weak. Giving the hot babe to a male character as a reward or a quest token? I disavow it. Making men into villains, in fiction or in the real world, simply because they’re men? I disavow it. #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen

I disavow homophobia.

I support gay rights and marriage equality. My body of work is small, but it includes positively written gay and lesbian characters. Some of that work isn’t out yet, but I put gay and lesbian characters in my work because they belong there and they deserve to be there. They’re part of this world. They’re part of my world, and they’re part of the worlds I create.

I disavow religious discrimination.

I support faith and non-faith. Marginalizing an author for his or her Islamic faith? I disavow it. Marginalizing an author for his or her Christian (including Mormon) faith? I disavow it.

I disavow political litmus tests.

I don’t care whether an author’s politics are right, left, center or upside down. If their work is good and suits my taste, I’ll buy it and read it. Shunning an author or a group of fans because their political views are different from my own? I disavow it.

I disavow judging a group based on the actions of a few.

I form my opinions of people and of creative works on an individual basis, based on the work itself or what the individual has said or done. Guilt by association? I disavow it.

I disavow vitriol and kerfuffles on the internet.

I loathe internet drama. I almost said no to Sad Puppies because I knew drama would follow. There is vitriol on both sides, and I disavow it. I will not take part in the vitriol, and I will do what I can to keep the kerfuffle to a minimum.

Working for change? I avow and affirm it.

I said yes to Sad Puppies this year because I saw the seeds of change. I saw an organizer who wanted to broaden the slate. Sad Puppies includes greater political variety, more women, more people of color and more non-het writers than it ever has before, and I wanted to support that growth.

Change comes in baby steps. Is Sad Puppies as diverse or inclusive as I’d like it to be? No, not yet, but I said yes in support of that first baby step. My view is that when someone makes a good faith effort to be more ecumenical, when someone reaches across the aisle and extends a hand to the other side, someone has to cross over. Insularity breeds more insularity. Brad made a gesture, and I wanted to support it.

Being the change you want to see in the world? I avow and affirm it.

 

*A note about comments: they’re moderated, which means this is a dictatorship. Whether or not it’s a benevolent dictatorship depends on the nature of the comment. 😉

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