A while back there was a significant flare up across the Internet surrounding sexism in science fiction. Specifically around the SFWA and their publication. Smarter people than I have covered this, therefore I don’t have to. Seriously, if you are really interested Jim C Hines did a listing linking to most of the blogs on it that I had seen.
For my part, I was concerned with how this affected fandom and convention communities. If I am going to be part of these communities, I wanted to be sure I went into it eyes open. I came across this concern when reading a blog from author Ann Aguirre on sexism in scifi. In which she describes problems she had at science fiction conventions as a female author. One of the more powerful statements was how a respected author had referred to her as “girlie” and demand coffee from her. That scene happened before the beginning of a panel they were on together.
The question is are we in the science fiction equivalent of Mad Men, or are we in 2013? And what does that mean to be in 2013?
Honestly I don’t know. I can’t explain how it is I have friends still to this day that are homophobic and preach hate and inequality. But I do. I still have people in my life that swear the Tea Party ideal is correct and we should all follow it. Those same people that try and convince me the significant drop in my public employee paycheck is “paying [my] fair share.” Even though I have given up years of any raise for those “cherry benefits.”
What I do know, and said so much in the comments on Ann’s blog, was that if she was a panelist at Odyssey Con I would get her coffee before a panel. I even upped it to include a cupcake. One that I made from scratch. Doesn’t matter that this coming year would be my first year as con chair. In fact, I think that makes it matter even more. Though, if the same situation came up at WisCon, I offered the same thing. (Though a cupcake at that con would be more difficult to produce.)
In the comments section of her blog I also went on to extend that offer to Larissa Ione. You see Ann lives in another country, limiting the possibility of me having to deliver on my promise. Larissa Ione lives in the same state as me. My offer stands to get her coffee before a panel should she wish it. (I will add the caveat that for WisCon I have to be attending or speaking on the panel in question. Odyssey Con grants me more mobility and communication.)
Now here is the kicker. If you are a female professional on one of our panels at Odyssey Con and want coffee, I will produce it for you. If I am not in or on your panel, someone there will be able to reach me. If you wish I will give you my contact information so you can text me with a coffee request. My hope is that the science fiction communities and fandoms that I am associated with will be welcoming to all. And in light of these recent events, I will personally work to make sure they are to the best of my ability.
Along similar lines, in the event our committee arranges a guest that goes against these principles in a very public fashion (as we have seen with several authors even before this latest mess), I won’t be bringing them coffee. Just sayin’…