This week in SF

So this week, two notable things happened. First, two dinosaurs went on a rampage.
dino
Granted, that didn’t happen this week, technically, but this is when the backlash occurred, first for the initial column that ran in the SFWA bulletin, and then there was the rebuttal, bemoaning the spate of anonymous complaints. dino2

I’m not anonymous. And I don’t think any of this is okay. This post is going to be anecdotal… because it needs to be. I’ve held my silence when I probably shouldn’t have. But I was in the minority, a woman writing SF, and I was afraid of career backlash. I was afraid of being excluded or losing opportunities if I didn’t play nice.

I don’t care about that anymore. If this means I don’t get into anthos or invited to parties, I don’t give a fuck. I care more about doing the right thing, about speaking out, so maybe other women who have had these experiences will do the same. If enough of us gather the courage to say, “Hey, look, this is NOT ALL RIGHT,” maybe the world will change. And if not, well, at least I stood up. I spoke. I didn’t sit quiet as a victim of sexism and let it happen.

In 2007, I sold my first book, Grimspace. It says it’s SF on the spine. I believe it to be SF, though it’s certainly written differently. I write in first person, present tense, and the protagonist is a woman with a woman’s thoughts, feelings, and sexual desires. But the book(s) take place in a rich, well-built science fiction world. There’s FTL travel and lots of planets to explore and aliens. Sounds like SF, right? Apparently not. And that’s the dismissive, occasionally scornful attitude I’ve received since 2008 when I made my first appearance as a professional in the SFF fandom.

At that con, I watched a respected male SF author get sloppy drunk and make women uncomfortable, fans and writers alike. I was one of them. I watched a respected SF writer break an elderly female fan’s heart by refusing to spend a minute talking with her. He was everything brusque, self-important, and rude. I consoled her afterward. I had a respected SF writer call me “girlie” and demand that I get him a coffee, before the panel we were on TOGETHER. When he realized I was not, in fact, his coffee girl, he didn’t apologize. And once we got into the panel, he refused to let me (or anyone else) speak. He interrupted me. He talked over me. He responded to questions that the audience asked me, when they asked me, by name, and he wouldn’t respond to the moderator, who was also female.

The panel was supposed to be about pseudonyms but he made it about how sad it was that the glory days were over. Point in fact, his wife participated more in the panel, by shouting out suggestions on what old stories he should tell next. If the panel had been called, “WHAT SF WAS LIKE IN 1969″, that would’ve been fine, I suppose, and I wouldn’t have been sitting there, feeling embarrassed, powerless, and ashamed, as I wasn’t born at that time.

I went home from that con feeling very sad and ashamed, because my colleagues had treated me like nothing, even though my book, Grimspace, sold out. There were over fifty copies in stock at BAMM, and I signed every last one of them. In fact, by the time my “formal” signing came along–with Sherrilyn Kenyon–they had none of my books left on the shelf. That was pretty cool. But despite good sales, I still felt bad.

Maybe it was a fluke, I thought. So I was excited when I found out I had been put on a SF panel at Comic-Con. I went, full of excitement and anticipation. But once I got there, I found more of the same. The moderator checked the pronunciation of the names of all male guests. (They were all male except me.) She did not ask me–and she got it wrong. Then in introducing me? She called me “the token female”. None of the male panelists objected; they were fine with it, apparently, and I was too new and scared to stand up for myself in a room full of men who were ex-military, who were actual rocket scientists, or worked for NASA. I wish I had. But I let them diminish me. I let it happen. I had a broken mic during the panel and nobody bothered to replace or fix it. The writer sharing his with me frequently took it away from me, or wouldn’t hand it over when I wished to speak. The male guests were dismissive and scornful of my work and my comments. I have seldom been so belittled or ashamed. By my peers. Why? My only difference is that I’m a woman and I’m writing SF the way I enjoy it. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, I thought. Maybe the audience didn’t notice. I was, frankly, on the verge of tears.

But then, David Brin, who was in the audience, came up to me. He shook my hand and said, “I liked what you had to say.”

The subtext I took from that was this: “Hey, sorry. Not all male SF writers are like this.”

So yeah. The audience noticed. I had slightly better experiences at WorldCon and ArmadilloCon, but I suspect it wasn’t as bad because I was roaming around with Sharon Shinn, who has more power and cachet than I had at that time. But I still encountered more than my share of fans, who dismissed my work. At that point, I was disheartened, and I stopped attending SFF cons entirely. I decided I’d rather spend my travel money otherwise. To quote my wonderful friend, Lauren Dane, “If I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go swimsuit shopping.” My professional work shouldn’t be impacted by my gender, my appearance, my religion, my sexuality, my skin tone, or any other factor. The fact that it is? Makes me so very sad. I’ve had readers and writers stare at my rack instead of my face while “teaching” me how to suck eggs.

I’ve been fighting this battle for five years now.

And now, here’s the second thing: I’ve been made aware of a post (that I’m not linking to)  from a guy who is swinging at me again. Why? Because I’m getting my girl cooties all over his SF. He implies I’m incapable of grasping sophisticated SF references due to my gender–that I don’t actually write SF because it has women, sex, and feelings in it. I’m so tired and disheartened right now. The one bright spot was my experience at KeyCon in Canada, where I was not only made to feel welcome but valued. Not a single soul at the con questioned my credentials or my quality of fiction, due to what I don’t have in my pants.

But I’m still here. I’m still writing. You cannot shut me up. I will NOT SIT DOWN. I will not stand quietly by anymore. I am a woman. I write SF. And it’s not acceptable to treat me as anything less than an equal. I won’t stand for it. And I won’t get your fucking coffee.

—– ETA:

So this post has been up for a few hours now. It’s gotten some reads. And the hate mail has begun. Warning: some of them are fairly horrible & may be triggering.

Email 1:

“Dear Ann:

Quit your bitching. Obviously your work is drek or you couldn’t crank it out so fast. Who cares what anyone calls the crap you write? So fuck off and stop whining about equality. Shit is equal to shit.”

Email 2:

“Your such a cunt. You need a good cocking. That would give you something else to think about.”

Email 3:

“Its bitches like you that are ruining SF. Why cant you leave it to men who know what their doing?”

Email 4:

“You think you write SF? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. SF is about important issues and there is no filth. The men on those panels were right not to let you talk if this is the stupid shit you have to say.”

(All errors made by OP.)

Posted in about me, anti-bullying, books, duh, FYI, opinion, peeves, sexism in SFF, writing

614 Responses to This week in SF

  1. Sullivan McPig says:

    Thanks for this post. I hope more women speak out. It’s an outrage you are treated like you are less than a male author. I love your books and if the Sirantha Jax books aren’t scifi, nothing is.

  2. I had to read this post twice. I’m speechless. You are a few steps ahead of me in the writing world, and if this is what I have to look forward to…

    All I can say is thank you. Thank you for not sitting there quietly and taking it up the ass as they clearly intend for you to do. Thank you for continuing to write, no matter how the jerks of the world treat you. Because here’s the thing…the majority of people buying books and reading do not have a penis. The majority of purchasing power in the US is held by women. The majority of the population is women. Get used to it boys, women are everywhere and they aren’t going to go meekly into the night. They are going to go fly spaceships and launch missiles and explore new worlds. Please continue to write science fiction for those of us out there who appreciate it, no matter what gender the author is. A good story is a good story. Period.

    I’ll have to think twice about participating in panels if that’s the way they treat half of the population.

    • lkeke35 says:

      Melinda: with all due respect I have to diagree.

      They do not intend for her to sit there and take it. What they intend is for her and you and all others like you or agree with you to leave. What they intend for you to do is get out of their little boys club so they can go back to wahtever bullcrap they were sharing with one another without having to think of such messy,worldly things as other people’s feelings.

      These people’s responses are so over the top and crazy that I can only assume one thing. They feel threatened. Women like you and Ann are threatening to them.

      They have been, until now, the members of an exclusive tribe that tcrafted the narrative that they are special and especially talented. What does it say about them when anyone who doesn’t look like them can do what they do? What it says to them in the deepest part of their brain is :”Hey! I’m not that special if anyone can do this job.

      As an Af-Am female I applaud her stance and I ask her to please don’t leave the organization. Stick in there. As a Black woman I don’t get the luxury of leaving things behind. I often just have to stick it out and fight back. I understand that some people have a low bullshit threshhold, so do I. But I can’t leave my color at the door and I won’t give people like that what they so obviously hope for with their callous and stupid tactics. And I would ask that all of the ones who resigned to please reconsider their decision. . I have this to say to them:

      While I understand how vitally important it is for you to protect and express yourself, please, I beg you to reconsider. Because it is vitally important to us, your female fans that you stay.

      • risa says:

        I love this comment, Ikeke35, and applaud you for voicing this – you do not get the luxury of leaving things behind. We all need to speak to this: We are here, every person you dismissed in your writing and words, and we will no longer defer to you; suck it up, babies.

      • Beth says:

        Wonderful, powerful post. Thank you.

      • CL Mannarino says:

        This. All of this. Thank you so much for this post, Ikeke35, and to you, Ann, for writing!

  3. I’ve been “lucky”, in that most of the sexism I’ve encountered professionally has been in private settings, where I can digest it and feel humiliated by it alone, without having to put a nice face on it for anyone else. I’ve been on a few panels that have veered towards “remember when girls didn’t sit up here?”, which was (thankfully) quickly shut down by the moderators.

    You can’t miss that sexism (and many other -isms) still plague the SFF community, and while I’m incredibly sorry you were ever treated this way, I have to hope that all the voices like yours that have been raised in the past couple of weeks are shining a light on corners that need a good sweeping out.

    Thank you for writing this, and sharing your experiences. I’m sorry you had them to share.

  4. Pamela says:

    As a reader and a huge fan of your Sirantha Jax series (can’t wait for Perdition!!!!), I find this extremely distressing, depressing, and infuriating. I am ECSTATIC Grimspace and the Jax books exist, they opened me to a genre I never would have dipped a toe in otherwise. Who the heck is this guy to take swings at YOU. I’d say it speaks far more volumes about his incompetencies and insecurities than anything about you. Thank you for speaking out, and not letting them win.

    • I’m with Pamela. I didn’t like science fiction until I read GRIMSPACE. All the SF I had read previously seemed to talk down to the reader or spent more time talking about the technology than moving the plot along. I love how we’re introduced to the world through Jax eyes and that she does have meaningful relationhsips.

      I wouldn’t listen to all the misogynistic pigs out there. They’re just jealous that more people are starting to enjoy SF and can find more than the techno-babble that a lot of SF can be.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      Thank you so much. <3

      • Hannah Savannah says:

        And now I am of to buy Grimspace. The book sounds awesome, you sound fantastic and brave. I am standing right behind you. What you are doing is for all of us. SO PROUD.

  5. April S. says:

    I liked your post AND I never read SF before until I read your book Grimspace. Your male counterparts were wrong. PLEASE continue to stand up and don’t let them get you down.

  6. MaryK says:

    Good grief, that’s appalling. I’d no idea you had so much trouble from SF folks. All I can say is take heart from your fans and sales figures. You’re a new generation of writer and you’ll be around when the “respected” SF writers are gone.

  7. Seleste deLaney says:

    It’s sad that a genre that is supposed to celebrate the future is so entrenched with people who want to relive the past when women were supposed to do little more than stand still and look pretty. Or cook their meals. Or bear their children.

    I am sorry you had to go through this, but I am glad you are standing up. In the wider world, you’re known, loved, and respected, and what you say *matters.* It matters to me as a reader as well as to me as an author. And I’m sure it matters even more to those who will come later.

    Sorry, old-school sci-fi-guys, the boys’ club is over. You want it back? Build a tree house, sit up there with your like-minded friends, drink, and reminisce about how it used to be. The rest of the world will happily move on in your absence.

  8. Nicole says:

    Reading this post, I am so outraged. I am so angry for you. I have heard some stories about women and the SFF world, but didn’t realize it was still this bad. I have read TONS of SFF since I was a little girl. And I love your stories. As a woman, as a reader and a writer of the genre, they speak to me more than any other SF books ever have. Please don’t stop writing, and don’t stop standing up for yourself. We need books like yours, not more of the same cookie cutter, misogynistic crap out there. You are an inspiration. Thank you.

  9. Pingback: » SFWA and Sexism in SFF Michelle and Reesa Write

  10. Christine says:

    I’m a woman in a tech field, literally one of 5 on my floor of over 200 people. It’s so damned hard sometimes, especially when the temptation to scream and have a full-on temper tantrum raises its ugly head. You have done such a wonderful job of summing up the frustration and bone-shaking self-doubt that happens when that kind of thing gets under your skin. And you aren’t screaming. And you aren’t having a temper tantrum. You are assertive and dead-on right. I appreciate your words more than you know, both in your books and on this page. I am only waiting for the day that the kinds of people who fall for the sexist trap of limiting women’s voices in both SF and tech will eventually understand that they are embracing their own limitations, and ultimately are going to lose their battle to define and silence us.

    • Bookwench says:

      I’m a woman in a tech field too. For most of my career, I’ve also been either the only girl in my shop or one of very few, vastly outnumbered by the guys. (The other ones did not always represent women as tech-competent, either. Depressing.)

      So, hi! And a solidarity shout to someone else working in a male-dominated field.

      And yes. I usually keep my mouth shut and solder on (soldier on… it’s a pun… Ahhh, I love pus too much. Sorry.) Because you know feelings don’t get listened to. The only time I’ve ever spoken out was when I got my ass grabbed. Because that was a thing, a real thing, not a squishy little feeling that we shouldn’t be having.

  11. Ann:

    I grew up on “that kind of” Science Fiction, noting how they were doing it all wrong, and decided to become a writer to fix that error.

    I did.

    Now I read your books, and there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM — aha, I succeeded!!!

    Just don’t forget, I’m still here, and the series based on my FIRST SALE (to Fred Pohl) which contained the seeds of fixing that is now being developed into an RPG video game (big time announcements in July). And the game has male and female characters (some not human) that players will be able to choose to “be.” Male and female, warriors, magicians, Captain Kirks, the whole gamut.

    So don’t despair. Succeed at what you originally set out to be a writer to do.

  12. I agree with Seleste that in a genre where the future is supposed to be seen as better, some of the authors are still stuck in the past. I read the post you are referring to, and it’s a shame, but I’ve also read many responses that make me proud to be a reader and writer of the genre. You are truly an inspiration to many. In this industry, and especially this genre, it’s those who CAN look to the future who will continue to do well, and not those who can’t accept change.

  13. I’m not surprised in the slightest. As a geeky chick growing up in the 90’s, I was unusual in being a member of the chess club, scholar bowl, etc., and I always encountered the Alpha Geek mentality among boys and young men. They have to be the smartest guys in the room, all the time. They hate losing out to each other, but they ESPECIALLY hate being shown up by anything with ovaries. (So much easier to take rejection when women are just these pretty, sweet, but ultimately harmless, vapid, empty-headed members of some subspecies, I guess.) Even now, as an adult, I don’t like to hang out with my husband’s gamer friends because I either get ogled, or I get patted on the head and asked, “So, how are your little books selling, dear?”

    My mom is an engineer and an old-school feminist. Almost daily, we discussed her struggles in a male-dominated industry. She’s also an original Geek Chick– she loved the Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Lovecraft. I was raised worshiping Ellen Ripley, Jeanette Vasquez, Sarah Connor, Dana Scully and Buffy.

    All I can say is, you have the support of your fellow female writers and readers. The old sci-fi guard is a dying breed. People want more from sci-fi and fantasy than just rocket ships and hack-and-slash. We want character-driven, we want plot, we want sexuality, we want strong women.

    Women make up 62% of book buyers. (http://www.bowker.com/en-US/aboutus/press_room/2012/pr_08142012.shtml)

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Your voice matters. Don’t let them shout you down.

    • Eva Lefoy says:

      Applause. I agree we women readers need to vote with our pocketbooks! Read women scifi and stop buying male bullying author’s works. Amen, sister.

      • Sylvia says:

        Stop buying the bullies – but we don’t know wh0 they-all are.

        I’ve stopped reading Harlan Ellison since all his books seemed to have the watermark “I Pinch Your BOOOOBS” on the pages.

        I’ve read exactly one of Mike Resnik’s books, and didn’t like his female characters – didn’t like his male characters, for that matter – and didn’t read any more of them.

  14. Suzan Butler says:

    I come across this behavior a lot in my time in the military. They try to make me feel ashamed that I’m doing a man’s job in the military, and constantly try to assume because I might need help lifting something that I’m not as good as they are.

    I hate seeing this in the SFF community, (and honestly, this sadly happens a lot in the comic book world too) and I hate seeing that they did that to you, because you are one of the nicest authors I’ve ever met. I love your books. I love you as a person. And I’m happy to see you speaking out.

    • Bookwench says:

      You have to work so hard in the military, over and over and over, in every single unit you get to, to prove you’re as tough as or tougher than the guys so they won’t just dismiss you as yet another waste of time. And you have to listen to them bitch about women all the time. And then you see other women slacking off (taking the stereotype and running with it) and you’re like, why? Why are you feeding their crap? Don’t you get that as women we have to work harder to be seen as equal? And then you think, shit. Did I just think that? Is that wrong?

  15. Kay Hudson says:

    I’m an as-yet-unpublished writer of light paranormal romance (happily thriving in the women-centered atmosphere of RWA), but I’ve been reading science fiction for decades, since the days when even Ursula LeGuin was publishing under her initials. I’ve seen so much change, and many of my auto-buy sff authors are now women. I’m so sorry to hear that the sff world is still such a boys’ club (emphasis on boys). Hang in there, Sister. There are so many of us rooting for you (and reading your books!).

  16. Monica says:

    It is quite sad that women are continuously belittled and/or felt to be inferior to men in many areas. However, I am happy to see that these issues are brought to light and being discussed on a national platform, thanks to social media. Thank you Ms. Aguirre for this post, it not only conveys a message that women are truly strong, because only a strong person can rebound from that type of treatment and squash the competition! Kudos to you and all the other female writers of Science Fiction and every other genre that has found and is finding success in their VOICE!

  17. Julie H. says:

    You know what would be awesome? Female SF writers doing an all-woman-author panel at these conventions. That would rock and, I think, be a powerful reminder and encourager to women out there that not everything is as male dominated as it can seem.

    It’s so hard to women to know how to speak up and stand up when stuck in this situation. We’re groomed pretty early to believe Nice Girl is the only way to be. Don’t get mad, don’t cause a scene, don’t speak up, don’t demand to be treated respectfully. Be “nice,” smile and nod and take it. It’s a super hard habit to break. I do a lot of people watching to see how men handle (and are treated) in a situation vs. a woman in the same one. It’s stunning and upsetting but there’s not a darned thing wrong with speaking out. Bravo to you!

    I think female authors have a hard time getting any respect no matter what they write. Look at any best sellers list and the resulting interviews with authors to see how that breaks down. As my mama once told me, “I didn’t realize that writing a ‘worthy’ book meant you had to type it with your penis.”

    • Liz Williams says:

      All-female panels happen on a frequent basis: I’ve been on many of them. Pat Cadigan, Tricia Sullivan and I agreed on the last one we were on not to discuss sexism, because otherwise this is all we’re expected to talk about – yet more expectation that all we’re concerned about is our reaction to men’s attitudes. Whereas what we want to talk about (and do) is our work.

      I’m prepared to cut people over 70 some slack, as there’s a generational thing going on there – when it gets to the under 50s, however, no excuses. And let’s not replace sexism with ageism: they may be old white guys, but some of them are still outstanding writers even if their personal attitudes might want me want to ram my head through the nearest wall. That does not, however, excuse any personal abuse.

      As for the gentleman who remarked that we women should simply exhibit ‘a quiet dignity’ – I’ll be the judge of when I exhibit that, thank you. I’m appalled by some of the hate mail that A has received, though not surprised to note its illiterate nature. Par for the course. Hang in there,

      • Ann Aguirre says:

        I don’t agree about the generational thing. People who refuse to update their beliefs and ideas based on new information become stagnant. I don’t think it’s unfair to require respect from my colleagues, regardless of age.

    • You should hit up Readercon, near Boston. Amazing convention run with a deliberately feminist intention. It views sexism and misogyny as immediately harmful and moves aggressively to nip it in the bud. One of the ways they do this is by frequently putting nonhegemonic boards together. There’s still asshattery, cuz we’re all human, but the misogynistic and sexist hats are usually knocked off.

      • Lisa Evans says:

        Readercon is *not* an explicitly feminist convention in any way, shape, or form. If it was, Eric Van would have thrown off the concom for his ugly, dismissive attitude toward anyone who isn’t a middle aged white male in 2010, and Rene Walling would have been instantly and permanently banned for harassing Genevieve Walling *in accordance with Readercon’s own written policy* instead of being banned for two years and only banned for life after an enormous uproar.

        If you want a feminist con, try Wiscon or Conbust, or start your own. But don’t claim that Readercon is when it isn’t.

      • Rose Fox says:

        Hi Lisa and Joshua,

        Thanks for mentioning Readercon. Those of us who are on the committee are indeed moving actively toward making it a more diverse and safe convention. I wouldn’t say it’s a feminist con–not the way that Wiscon is, for example–but we pay close attention to the needs of our female attendees and panelists, and we always include a variety of panel topics related to sex and gender (as well as race, immigration, language, disability, the QUILTBAG, and other minority issues). You can see this year’s preliminary program here:

        http://readercon.org/program.htm#preliminaryprogram

        And our very diverse guest list here, including our two female GOHs:

        http://readercon.org/guests.htm

        The Readercon board’s handling of the Valentine/Walling issue last year was a pretty grievous screw-up, which is why the entire board resigned; in addition, several people (including Eric Van) have left the convention committee, and others have joined, so it’s really not the same organization it was even a year ago. We formed a safety committee headed by assistant conchair Kim Riek and have just finished completely rewriting our safety policies from scratch so everyone can be sure that future instances of problematic conduct will be handled appropriately. (Those policies will go up on our website by July 1.) We do take these matters very seriously.

        Joshua, thanks for your kind words; Lisa, I hope that someday we may be able to regain your trust. Everyone, if you have any questions about the con feel free to email me at [email protected]–I’ve already hijacked this thread enough!

        Cheers,
        Rose Fox
        Readercon 24 program chair
        Readercon convention committee and safety committee member

  18. Kate says:

    Not only is this an outrage, it’s sad and disappointing that men actually think that way. We aren’t living in the dark ages anymore!

    I find books that don’t have any feeling put into them very hard to read and must admit that finding a good writer, that I enjoy who is male doesn’t happen very often for me… sure I might be picky, but I like emotion in my books and in depth characters who feel – who are human!

    Not saying that I don’t like male authors, I enjoy both female and male books but as with every person you have some books you like and others you don’t and I don’t think gender comes into that. It would be interesting to sit these men down and have someone give them something you’ve written and see if they can even notice that it’s been written by a ‘female’ it’s not like you’re writing screams ‘this was created by someone with a vagina!’

    I’ll stop ranting now, thank you for this post and thank you for your books. I’ve only read your young adult books so far but I do enjoy Science Fiction and will be looking forward to reading your other books in the future! Don’t give up, you’re amazing.

    -Kate

  19. I am gobsmacked at what happened to you the first time. That a female moderator allowed that to happen to you the second time is unforgivable. It smacks of the boys at the golf club who kicked me off the course because I had the temerity to walk around the course with my boyfriend (not play). No wonder women authors find they have to hide behind initials and pseudonyms. Stare ‘em down. It can be done.

  20. Kerri says:

    I guess I am naive. I didn’t realize this kind of thing happened. I mean it’s 2013. We’ve established that men and women alike love science fiction. There are so many different flavors of science fiction, too. Yet, this happens? So very disappointed. You don’t deserve any of this. Makes me wonder how many other female scifi authors have gone through this.

    • Kathy Davie says:

      I’m with you, Kerri. It’s been over 50 years—50—since Women’s Lib first came on the scene. And we’re still dealing with jerks like this??? Maybe we need those names. Find out who to stop buying. I mean, if “girls” can’t write sci-fi, I guess we can’t “appreciate” it either…gag…

  21. Jamie K says:

    What a fantastic post. I’m so sorry that you’ve had such bad experiences. As a writer of science fiction and an aerospace engineer (rocket scientist) I sympathize. It seems it’s still quite difficult for women in many career fields and it makes me so angry. But I’m also glad that there are strong women out there like you that are willing to stand up to this and not let it continue to happen. I deal with similar problems on a regular basis. People often assume I’m male because of my name and profession and when they find out I’m a female they rarely apologize. It’s often hard to be taken seriously, but I have no doubt that if enough of us band together and speak up, we will one day make a difference.

  22. David Bishop says:

    It’s shameful that bullying and sexism still find a place in SFF [and, let's face it, the wider world]. The more people – male and female – who speak out against this, who say no more, the better.

  23. Emanuel Hoogeveen says:

    Well. I’m surprised and appalled that this has been your experience. You’d think if anything, the SFF community would be *more* aware of issues of equality, given these stories often take place in either utopian or dystopian future extensions of our own reality. If SFF is a male dominated genre, then if anything we should be intrigued to see what a female outlook can bring to the table. Though personally I’d prefer to look past that and simply appreciate the writing. For what it’s worth, if nothing else this post has sparked my interest in your books – I’ll be sure to check them out in the future.

  24. Mona Karel says:

    This sucks. It absolutely totally how stupid can they be sucks. As a mainly Romance author, I’ve heard all the put downs and snide comments possible, from both readers and non-Romance authors. I’ve had ‘friends’ tell me one day I’d be writing ‘real’ books and then they’d read me. Don’t hold your breath, friend. Years ago I listened to powerhouse writers warn us, no matter what we write, if a woman’s name is on the spine, it is classified as Romance or Women’s Fiction and shelved accordingly.
    Well, the laugh’s on all those who tried to push Romance down. Like it or not, the sales are in books written by women, and stores that ignore or put down Romance don’t do as well. The tide IS turning for SFF women writers but OMG it’s SO slow! I’d say the fact this non-female writer (I hesitate to call them ‘men’ since I do have male friends with open minds) is freaking out about girlie cooties is a good thing…it means they’re getting scared.
    Come to Bubonicon in Albuquerque, we’ll make sure you’re heard!

  25. Kiersten says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for speaking up/that you have my support. I’ll definitely be adding your books to my to-read list.

  26. Imelda Evans says:

    I have been reading sci-fi and fantasy (and crime and YA and romance and biography and…) since the 1970s. As a reader, I can honestly say that I don’t even notice the name of the author until I love the book and want to find more. That this attitude exists doesn’t surprise me. That it is so prevalant and so tolerated I do find surprising and rather depressing. But I know that it isn’t universal. The fact that I found this post through a tweet by a male writer is a good sign. Thank you for standing up to be counted and sharing your experience. We can’t combat what we don’t know exists and we can’t make it stop if we pretend it isn’t happening.

  27. Shannon Delany says:

    I am so pissed off on your behalf. Your writing and storylines are always do well done–tight and clean with strong characterization and deep worlds. The fact you would face this sort of idiocy in this century is disgusting. I need to applaud you for stepping up and speaking out. You are a powerhouse in our industry–don’t you dare forget that. Damn, this outrages me.

  28. Vinity says:

    Wow, I am so sorry you’ve had this experience. I knew there were some dicks out there but had no idea it was this bad. Just wow! Good for you to stand up to them! I love your work.

  29. As a writer, woman and HUMAN I am appalled you were treated so badly. I am glad you are speaking up and I am so sorry you were treated like that.

    As a mother of three young adult daughters I am dismayed and saddened that though I tried to raise my daughters to be strong women ready to make their moves and live their dreams, the world I’ve sent them in to is not all that different from the one my generation faced. I guess I was naive to think things had changed.

    I am embarrassed for SFF.

  30. I’m not saying anything about the specific content of your post because at this point I’m just fact-gathering and don’t want to get involved. But I do want to tell you how much I loved Grimspace. Sounds like you need it. :)

    I don’t usually read first person because it gets on my nerves, and present tense is the worst of the worst in my book. But I devoured Grimspace. DEVOURED it! I loved it and I plan to read the rest of the series. I also plan to read your urban fantasy series. You made me love it, despite the fact you were in my least favorite POV mode. I recommended it to a friend who devours urban fantasy because the voice and tone is right up her alley.

  31. Diane Nelson says:

    That is simply not acceptable. I hope you continue to make your voice heard. As a reader of SF, I *want* your point of view, I *need* your perspective, I *value* your talent. Let no one say otherwise.

  32. Mish Varney says:

    They do it because they can. And we women have spent far too many times gritting our teeth and not dealing with it there and then. I was actually GROPED in public by a respected senior SF writer at a con. In respect of his age, I didn’t deck him. But it made me swear never to accept it again. And I won’t.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ve been groped as well, by the SF writer who was sloppy drunk at my first con. I wasn’t the only one, and he was so inebriated that I imagine he doesn’t even remember.

  33. Mary G says:

    I’m appalled that this attitude persists today. Bravo to you for standing up. Pity them because they totally missed out on your articulate, smart & funny self.

  34. K. Ceres Wright says:

    I had no idea this level of sexism existed at cons. It’s quite appalling. Thank you so much for sharing what you and other women have gone through. I’m so glad your book is doing so well. The best revenge is living well. And women in SF are coming up, and we WILL support one another. Keep up the great work!

  35. Pingback: Genre Wars – Why is SFR the outcast? | Tracing the Stars

  36. What a plank he sounds! I was going to say “f*** him! And do your thing!” But that looks sooo inappropriate now. ;-) So I won’t say that. Jealousy is such an ugly, undignified thing… and it looks as though you have plenty of support here. Now from one more woman who’s got into sci-fi and would love to be able to write it as well as you clearly do. You’re an inspiration and I have much to learn from you and other sci-fi writers, whoever they are, whether female or male! Hx

  37. This is a great post and I’m shocked to hear how you were treated. Hopefully spreading awareness like this will both encourage other people to call out this behaviour, and shame the perpetrators into reevaluating their attitudes or at the very least shutting them the hell up.

  38. Ally Blue says:

    This whole thing — the crap with the SFWA as well as your awful experiences — is so disheartening. After all this time, you’d think the Old Boy’s Club would realize that women read and write SFF just as much as they do. I started reading horror almost as soon as I learned to read. I began reading sci-fi soon after. My shelves — physical and digital — are FULL of science fiction novels. The classics, the not-so-classics, and everything in between. It’s near and dear to my heart. I’ve only recently branched out into writing sci-fi myself, though it’s sci-fi romance rather than hardcore science fiction. Ann, you and other female sci-fi authors are HEROES to me. It infuriates me that you were treated like trash by those men (and IMO they don’t deserve to be called real men, since real men, real human beings in fact, do not treat other people like garbage). Last month, I attended GaylaxiCon in Atlanta (Dragon*Con’s gay little brother *g*). I found love and acceptance there as a female author and fan of science fiction. I don’t know if that’s because of the shared history of oppression that women of all orientations share with gay & bisexual men, but it was a very pleasant surprise.

    Okay, rant over. I’m a lurker on blogs most of the time but I wanted add my support. We are legion, they can’t keep us down!!

  39. I am sorry this happen to you both as a woman and a human being. You keep writing we will keep buying and to hell with them. Glad you are sharing this as fans I want to share and support cons and authors who respect others in their field.

  40. Alice Orr says:

    I am so sorry you experienced this treatment but I’m not in the least surprised. I spent many years as a publishing professional and was aware of this kind of dismissive attitude toward women and even more significantly toward their work in the SFF community. The only way to begin changing that is to break the silence that both genders have maintained for decades for different reasons. You are a brave woman to have stepped forward. The comments here are proof that you are being heard. Please keep on speaking out. I would ask also that you keep on showing up at SFF events and standing tall for who you are and what you do.. but only if you feel you want to do that. Most adamantly I ask you to keep on writing. That is the silence you must never let anyone impose on you for any reason ever.

    • Eleanor says:

      THIS.

      I sell books and I do see that no-buying-female-authors attitude from a number of male customers. It’s really annoying. The thing that drives me batty though is when someone asks me my favourite authors, then says, ‘oh, so you only read female authors?’ First off, that list is about 20-25% male, so they’re ignoring data to try to fit things into their hardened limited notions; secondly, they are usually about to tell me all about the Forgotten Realms canon and bad Tolkien imitations. May Octavia Butler and Diana Wynne Jones rise from the grave and smite the idiots.

  41. flchen1 says:

    Awesome post, Ann–I am heartbroken that you experienced that and that clearly sexism is alive and well, but at the same time, thank you for speaking out, and know that you have devoted fans in many parts, male and female.

  42. As a female sci-fi consumer (by television, books, etc.) and aspiring writer, this post made me feel two things. Incredibly sad that this is STILL an issue in 2013 — haven’t we pretty much proved that women can do anything a man can do? And honestly, your work speaks for itself.

    It also made me feel empowered. You are an amazing SF writer and I appreciate your work. Thank you for standing up for not only yourself, but for others out there.

  43. Doc Coleman says:

    If a male sci-fi author is disparaging you or your work because of your gender, it is a sure sign that he feels threatened and he is scared because he can’t keep up. Call his ass on it. Bullies strike out because they are afraid. Best way to deal with them is to show they you are not.

    Don’t ever be afraid to speak up when someone fails to give you the respect that common courtesy should grant you. I just hope that if I am every on or attending a panel where someone shows that kind of misogyny, I have the presence of mind to call him on it. Silence doesn’t always mean assent. Sometimes it just means shock.

    Doc

    • Phoenix says:

      I’m with you on this. Stand up for your rights and don’t suffer rudeness. Don’t let anyone belittle you. Respect yourself and accept nothing less from others. Treat others as you would be treated and don’t let yourself be mistreated.

      I’m always astounded to encounter such pettiness. I’ll defend free speech, but fools aren’t worth the oxygen they steal.

  44. Ann,

    Bought your book after reading your post. Sci-Fi lover to the core. You should consider attending Immortal ConFusion in Dearborn, MI if you can, it’s a smaller Con with an extremely friendly atmosphere, and the majority of the panelists I met at the con were women, and there were a number of gender-oriented panels that garnered some really good discussion. As a yet-unpublished straight white male writer hoping to change the straight white male facade of science fiction writing, I lend my as yet worthless voice to yours, and want you to know that whatever con you attend, if I am there, you will have an ally. And no matter if I am not, there will be others, and if you stand, they will join you.

    Cheers, August

    PS I’ll review your book on my blog, and I don’t think I’ve ever cared about what gender my authors are. (cough cough favorite authors Margaret Weis, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley cough cough okay I can’t leave Roger Zelazny and Terry Pratchett off this list I love them too much sorry XD)

  45. Valerie Parv says:

    So sorry to hear your experiences, Ann. Good for you speaking out here. I’m a romance writer who has segued into SF romance – try fitting that into a male dominated world. Have always loved SF and supported fandom so it’s like coming home for me. I spoke at my first SF con, Conflux in Canberra Australia, last month and found an impressing level of respect from both genders. I was even co opted onto another panel to fill the shoes of a well-known male writer who couldn’t make it at the last minute, again no coffee-girl angst. Maybe because I won’t tolerate any. I’m plus size, female, widowed and a romance writer, the decks are really stacked, but try riding roughshod over me and see what happens. I learned long ago that waiting for the mike is a recipe to get sidelined. If I don’t get a mike, I get loud. Not saying any of these approaches will suit anyone else, but it’s how I head off disrespect before it gets going. My 29 million book sales may help too. The more of us who get loud and proud about our work, the better. Go you.

  46. Liana Brooks says:

    I already have all your books, but I’ll go buy second copies just as a thank you for this post.

    I write science fiction. I love science fiction. I read science fiction. I’m trying to get science fiction published with a very female name attached and I’m scared that this is in my future. I worry that my book is dismissed because I am a woman. Every time I get a polite rejection with the comment, “Great book, but I don’t know where to sell it.” I wonder if it’s the book and the market or the fact that the main character is a Hispanic female and I don’t have a penis.

    Thank you for trailblazing, and keeping the path open for those of us following in your wake.

    Thank you for standing up to the bullies who want to take sci-fi away from us.

    Thank you for your books which I ♥love♥.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    *hugs*
    Liana

  47. Leah says:

    Buying your book because of this post. Hallelujah for SF where humans have actual human emotions. I write it as well, and I refuse to be denied the label SF simply because I’m female and there’s romance in my stories. There’s hard science in them, too. These elements CAN coexist.

    Also, I’d love to know who this cretin is who’s bullying you. If it’s anyone in a position of power (author, book blogger?), I want to make sure not to support him in any fashion. But totally respecting your desire not to direct any further attention to him.

    Thanks for standing up and saying this. I hope you’re well rewarded with new readers and supporters, because you deserve it.

  48. Diana Herald says:

    Loved Grimspace. In my opinion, anyone who dismisses Ann Aguire’s SF as not being real science fiction is making a big mistake. I wrote a review on it when it was first published and just reposted that 5 year old review http://www.genrefluent.com

  49. That sort of blatant sexism makes absolutely no sense to me. Screw him and everyone who believes a woman can’t write scifi. That irritates me beyond belief. Who cares if a book is written by a man or a woman? SciFi is scifi. You write scifi. End of story. *hugs*

  50. I’m so upset by this post, but I’m not shocked. I wish I were. I’m a scientist (molecular biology–male-dominated to be sure) by day, and by now I’m used to being the only woman in the room about half the time. I’m also used to comments like “Women can’t make it in science–they’re not aggressive enough,” and “That was a pretty good talk for a woman,” and, my all time favorite, “Why’d you go to all that trouble (to get your degree)–you’re a woman–you could’ve just *married* a doctor.” There are lots of great men out there–allies, people who get that the status quo is still full of this crap. And then there are the others.

    I’m sorry you experienced all this garbage. I’m sorry it’s still going on. But I’m so glad you wrote this post. It must have been really difficult to write. Thank you for your bravery, and for sharing these experiences that I’m sure resonate with far too many women.

  51. Idiots. These old-school SF mastodons are idiots. Hello, boys? Lois Bujold. C.J. Cherryh. Ursula freaking Le Guin.

    Grow up. This sandbox is no longer just for you.

  52. M. A. McRae says:

    Fancy actually being *introduced* as ‘the token female.’ That really is unforgivable.
    Good luck with your career in Sci-fi.

  53. Ann Aguirre says:

    Email 1:

    “Dear Ann:

    Quit your bitching. Obviously your work is drek or you couldn’t crank it out so fast. Who cares what anyone calls the crap you write? So fuck off and stop whining about equality. Shit is equal to shit.”

    • Suzan Butler says:

      I want to say really mean things here, but really, he’s just proving your point. Real men don’t need to tear down other people.

    • Debbie Moorhouse says:

      Hah hah hah you have to love it when people use reasoned argument, dontcha?

    • Dafydd Williams says:

      Oh, how wonderfully rational of them. What a beautifully constructed argument. It must have taken them, oh, all of ten seconds to create?

      The real drek here is the email you just quoted. Apart from the threats, accusations, rudeness and attempted intimidation, to try link volume and quality in this medium is perfidious at best. It’s also given the lie, of course, by your sales figures, Ann; obviously, large volumes of people find your work compelling and engaging!

      Please, ignore this imbecile.

  54. Galena says:

    This kind of shit disheartens, frustrates, saddens, and enrages me and I’m not even the one experiencing it.

    Also, I know that in general, women relating their terrible sexist encounters don’t name names, but I argue that needs to change. I WANT to know who these assholes are so I can add them to my never-buy list (just like Resnick and others). They need consequences!

  55. Jamie says:

    Disheartening. If it hand’t been for Sirantha Jax, I would have NEVER read a book in the SF genre. You are a rock star. Pay no mind to these sad, little men that are so full of themselves that they have lost any sense of decency or perspective.

  56. Jaye Wells says:

    1. Bookseller to an all-female panel of accomplished SFF writers (I was the newest author on the panel at the time): “So when I have a male reader come in, I start him off with Jim Butcher. Then if he likes that and comes back, I say, ‘If you don’t mind reading a book written by a woman .. [insert Jaye's head exploding].'”

    2. First SFF con ever, before my debut even hit the shelves. Male SFF author looks at my publisher’s selling points on the back of a postcard with my cover. “Says here people who like Buffy will like your work?” Proceeded to grill me about the entire Buffy cannon in front of a group of people and when I fail to get an answer a question right calls me a fraud and says I don’t have to right to compare myself to Joss Whedon.

    3. Female moderator on a panel pitting Urban Fantasy against Paranormal Romance (these are the only panels that have mostly women and they are clearly put on the agenda because they want PNR to get beat up on). The moderator starts out by saying, “Is there anyone in this room willing to even admit they read PNR?” We all raised our hands. It went downhill from there. I mention this instance because the sexism isn’t always perpetuated by men, and also because a lot of the arguments leveled against female writers of my genre (urban fantasy) is that we aren’t writing real fantasy, but paranormal romance disguised as UF because the protags are female and there is sex in them.

    4. “So … your books are just for chicks, right?” Said to me at a book signing by a man who later emailed me to apologize after I talked him into buying the book and reading it. Variations of this conversation happen on a pretty regular basis.

    5. When someone said they were going to grab me a chair, a male author of a different genre whispers sotto voce, “She can sit on me.”

    See, I told you I wasn’t going to share these because they’d make me too mad, but I went and did it anyway.

  57. Dafydd Williams says:

    Dear Ms. Aguirre,

    I wish I could say I was shocked at the disgusting behaviour you’ve had to endure. Instead, I’m forced to say that I’m not at all surprised. Deeply saddened, yes. Horrified, yes. Shocked, no.

    I hope your next panel is of a higher class. Please accept an iTunes purchase of Grimspace (on spec and reputation) as a trivial part-reimbursement for your troubles, on behalf of the male gender that I’m ashamed to be a member of.

    Looking forward to reading whatever you have to write,

    Dafydd

    • Dafydd Williams says:

      Looks like I’ll have to get a print copy through channels, as the Australian iTunes store has only a scattering of your older works. Botherations! Still, time to place an order.

      • C.M. Simpson says:

        Hi Dafydd – not sure I can say this here, but I will – you can order Ann’s books from the Intrigue Romance Bookstore. It’s where I first found them.

    • Madison says:

      While I wish I could say I’m shocked, I’m really just sad. It’s the same in the Corporate world with the “good ole boys” network. So, yes, stand up! Be the best you can be. And as stated before, 63% of books are bought by women. Plus we live longer and so get to enjoy your books more! Cheer on! We’re all with you.

  58. Becky says:

    Wow. Looks like the 7 year olds have come out of the slime to post hate mail. Considering all the mis-used words and grammatical failures I can hardly consider the e-mails posters adults. Maybe when you can write English correctly and have something cogent to say you’ll get a moments consideration. Maybe.

    • furicle says:

      As a father of a seven year old – no seven year old has the right to talk like that either….

      It’s not solving the problem, but at least I have found another authour’s books to add to my bookshelf.

  59. Mike Brendan says:

    The time for “silent dignity” is over. We need to be vocal on this matter — we need to be the change we want to see in the SF community. Great strides have been made already, but there are still the creeps, misogynists and drek heads that still think women don’t belong in their club house.

    Personally, I think SF needs some well written romance — the elements of character and relations were largely dismissed in the “old school,” and I think new writers could only benefit by seeing it introduced to the genre.

    Good to see you standing tall, Ann. Keep it up!

    Mike

  60. LadyDamonayde says:

    Wow. That is so disheartening, but all too familiar. I’ve read sci-fi and fantasy my whole life and had to deal with all kinds of odd comments and bad treatment, but usually at cons the treatment is much better. I wish there were more female SF writers out there because I want to be one. So glad you’re standing up for yourself. Don’t every stop, and don’t stop writing awesome sci-fi.

  61. Oh dear gods I can’t even begin to describe how pissed off I am. I am so so sorry for how a large swath of my gender is treating you and I’m sorry for the utter crap that you’ve had to deal. I would say more, but really, everyone else here already has and I’m doing my best not to go on a very vulgar rant about these little boys and their stupidity. Instead I’ll just say I wish you all the best and I’ll be sure to be buying everything book you’ve ever written and ever will write.

  62. Ann, I’m a romance and fantasy writer (unpubbed), so I haven’t encountered this kind of thing in the writing world, but I just came from a four-day conference on the same issue in my day job profession (which is less than 25% female). It’s so disheartening to realize how little things have changed in the last quarter century. Thank you for the post and for your courage.

  63. Melanie C. Duncan says:

    I think I know which convention & panel you’re referring to as the one with the drunk. I remember you being very professional on the panel while he was just pathetic in trying to reclaim his glory days. Afterward, you were kind enough to autograph my copy of Grimspace, and surprised when I compared your first book to Andre Norton’s SF. Yes, I thought–and still think–you’re that good. Those who don’t, obviously feel threatened by your talent.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      I wondered if anyone who was there would see the post. Thank you so much for commenting and for your kindness and support. <3

      • Melanie C. Duncan says:

        You’re welcome. I still have my Grimspace magnet on the fridge too. You rock, & I will always support you! <3

  64. Jocelyn says:

    How rude they think that by insulting you they will make themselves superior but all they do is lose respect from those around him. Don’t worry about those kind of people I think it is ridiculous that they would go to such trouble to say that I am sure they haven’t even read your work which would make their comment about ur SF books void if they haven’t read it they can’t have any say in it.

  65. Matti says:

    Seems like you got a dosage of ass-hats there. Not only guys but also girls since everyone stood around without saying anything (except for David Brin). And the girl who introduced you as the “token female” may have tried to joke but she came out as just another ass-hat. The writers… well.. actually I must say those where the ones I was least surprised with. Quite a lot of writers seems to be pretty full of themselves. No matter if they’re female or male.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure the majority of SF readers enjoy your work and don’t mind a female protagonist. They’re just not that good and not the bunch of people who stands up to protest. (If not, let’s say the president of the USA mixes up Star Wars and Star Trek lore.) You have had a bad experience with a small (but vocal) minority who finds girls “icky”. The rest of us says “Go ahead. Go boldy where no man has gone before.”

  66. Dominic Lane says:

    Name and shame I say. Or at least give a clue, then we can stop buying – or not start – buying their work.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      None of the emails were signed. They were sent from hotmail (and the like) by fictional male SF characters.

      • AJ Fitzwater says:

        Oh ho ho. So the OWD (Old White Dudes) spit and declare those of us critiquing their words as cowardly anonymous, and yet! Here we have cowardly hateful anonymous dudes proving the point! What’s that saying? “The comments (in this case, emails) on an article about feminism justify feminism”.

        We have your back.

      • Tyler Tork says:

        I’m sorry you were subjected to that meanness and stupidity. And it occurs to me that not every a**hole who wants to write to you anonymously would choose the same type of alias, which suggests a lot of these might come from the same person.

  67. Emily says:

    Well, I’m going to go buy Grimspace right the hell now.

  68. Hi Ann,

    As a male fantasy writer, let me just echo what David Brin implied: “Not all of us are like this.” The instances you recount in your blog post are sickening, and the hate mail is (if possible) even more so. I’d like to take particular aim at two of the comments, if I may.

    First, “SF is about important issues and there is no filth.”

    Um, really? I admit, I’m not completely sure what he means by “filth,” but I sort of assume he’s referring to sex scenes. In which case I’m compelled to ask, has he SEEN Firefly? Arguably one of the best sci-fi shows ever, and one of the characters is a Companion? Who has sex for a living, and who is shown doing so the first time she appears on screen? (The new show “Defiance” has a similar character.) Or Dollhouse, for that matter (a show which not only brims over with sex scenes, but whose “important issues” are explicitly related to sex, consent, gratification, and fantasies)? Or Battlestar Galactica?

    And if by “filth” he means “feelings”–well, then we’ll just have to agree to REALLY FUCKING DISAGREE. Because in my world, a good story in any genre should be centered around the feelings of the characters. Those are what make the characters human and those are what readers relate to. If your story has no emotional blood going through it, then I’m going to take my Kindle and go home.

    And second, “…stop whining about equality.”

    Did I miss something? Isn’t that sort of what a lot of sci-fi does? This time I’m tempted to ask if the person in question has ever seen Star Trek? “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” and all that? I was sort of under the impression that sci-fi had been a vehicle to discuss issues of inequality since people started writing it. Am I just on crack?

    I’ll be honest, I had never heard of you before a Tweet linked me to this post, but you can bet I will be picking up your books now. And should I ever achieve the level of fame and success necessary to get invited to a con, I’ll do everything I can to make sure you get the chance to speak your piece.

    So, in summary: Don’t read the comments.

    All the very best,
    John Abramowitz

    • Scott McCoskey says:

      Thank you, you said pretty much what I was thinking.

    • Dafydd Williams says:

      Except for these comments, of course. You should totally read ~these~ comments.

      Because they’re universally awesome.

    • Dawn Phynix says:

      Hear, hear! And eloquently said.

    • Lyn Gala says:

      You said it all brilliantly. These men do not represent the entire field, but they are the ones who misunderstand the fundamental nature of science fiction. That whole ‘making the world better’ through forcing people to see themselves and their own culture through a science fiction lens got lost on them.

      And yet, I can’t say I’m shocked. This is why I keep my science fiction in the world of romance, whether it has zero sex or a dozen different sex scenes. I’m scared of the bullies in scifi.

    • azteclady says:

      This comment will be quoted–thank you for being so articulate.

    • I have the urge to stand on my desk and applaud right now. I was pretty much thinking the same thing: have they not SEEN Firefly? (Which, BTW, was one of the reasons I picked up Grimspace. It sounded like all the awesome of Firefly. So I took a chance on an author I’d never heard of and I am so glad I did. I’m a total Ann Aguirre fangirl now.)

      • Ann Aguirre says:

        Thank you so much! I love hearing that (even though I don’t quite believe it). I fought for twenty years to realize my dream and I can’t believe it when people tell me they’re fans. I’m always like, “no way, I have fans? GET OUT.” At most, I’d hoped to find some readers who like my books. :)

    • Ed Hoornaert says:

      I’ve been following the sexism in SF controversy with an ever sinking heart, but Anne’s post is certainly one of the most disturbing of the lot. My sympathy and outrage go out to you, and to all women SF writers, and as another male SF writer, I second John’s sentiment that we aren’t all like that. It makes me feel kind of dirty to belong to SFWA.

  69. ralfast says:

    I didn’t see a Tumblr button so I decided to put up a quote and link back here. The behavior by these, “gentlemen” has no place in my beloved science fiction.

  70. OJ says:

    I like your Grimspace books. They’re part of a whole range of sci-fi that I can enjoy. And though I live in the back of beyond and you would never come here, I’d certainly travel to the other end of my (admittedly rather small) country to see you at a con.

    That said, in your position I’d be publishing the email addresses of the people who sent you that hate mail. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  71. Hi, Ann! Been a long time since we’ve chatted… I’ve been lurking. Hope you still remember me (I’d be surprised if you didn’t).

    Anyhoo… turn the tables on ‘em. I’ll help. Women in SciFi Con. Celebrating the authors, the characters, the fans. After all, if seven thriller writers can create ThrillerFest, think what us women can accomplish! Look at this comment trail. We’ve got a fan base already, and it’ll grow. Lots of authors above me who write SFF (I still don’t, after that one disastrous attempt in grad school. But it got me an A in the course), and lots more out there. Where’s Linnea Sinclair? She’d be awesome to include.

    Think about it. If you need help making it a reality, the new West of Mars Promo department is glad to help out.

    • Well, there is also WisCon, the feminist SF/F con. I went this year and it was like a breath of fresh air. Next year will be the 38th WisCon: http://wiscon.info/index.php

      It would certainly be nice to have *more* women-oriented SFF cons, mind you…but the tables have been trying to be overturned since the 70s…

      Women have always been in SF.

  72. J9 says:

    It’s never easy being a ground breaker but we faceless women now & in the future thank you for doing this which is beyond hard. Please don’t get discouraged but carry on with head high knowing you have many women supporting you in thoughts & actions of our own.

  73. Robert Morris says:

    Ms. Aguirre,

    your Grimspace was the first SciFi book I gave my teenage son to read. 2nd was Hammers Slammers. Please continue to promote your abilities and refuse to take the crap from those who won’t give you your due.

    I would suggest rather than a Women in Sci-Fi Con only, poll the women authors and see what male ones they would like to invite along. Nothing says your on the wrong side like exclusion and lost marketing opportunities.

    • azteclady says:

      *this* absolutely.

      Instead of self-segregation in the form of a female con–or female panels–start with a well-balanced rooster of authors and grow from there. Show the asshats and cavepeople of either/both genders how it’s done.

  74. Nuchtchas says:

    While I’m sure my comment will be lost in the amount you are getting, I can tell you as a con audience member I have seen this too, and it sucks! I have a few recordings of panels where this happens, each time I’m told not to release the recordings because pointing out someone’s asshattedness would cause a rift in the community. I have photos of a female author who was asked a direct question at NYCC and unable to answer because of the one giant jerk who was blocking everyone from talking but didn’t even notice she was on the panel at all.

    Sadly I see this a lot at larger cons, the smaller cons I have been to however seem to be a bunch nicer. I think smaller cons are intimate enough that if someone treats you like dirt you will have a chance later to put them in their place, they know they are wrong and fear you. Give them something to fear. Speak your mind, don’t let them push you around. The more women shrink from these experiences, stop going to cons, or let people treat them like this, the more this sort of sexism will continue. We need to change the status quo.

    thank you for the post

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      “I have a few recordings of panels where this happens, each time I’m told not to release the recordings because pointing out someone’s asshattedness would cause a rift in the community.”

      Oh. My. God. This just enrages me. By all means, let writers get away with misogyny, prejudice, and what-not. We don’t want anyone tarnishing his own image by ACTING LIKE HE ACTS.

  75. Scott McCoskey says:

    It’s startling how a genre that is supposed to be about looking forward can have authors who think backwards.

  76. High five. I’m sorry that people have been horrible to you. I hope some positive vibes sent your way can help. I know it isn’t much, but I think that publicly saying you’re in the right for being pissed is needed. I like to hope that there are many more people out there who agree with you. Unfortunately assholes tend to be loud. Here’s to being a bit louder than them.

    A good book is a good book. Doesn’t matter who wrote it. It should be our only criteria when it comes to what we read, enjoy and praise.

  77. Jeanette Marsh says:

    Wow, what century are we in, again? I’d thought those attitudes had died out.
    You have my support. That is ridiculous behaviour in this day & age & completely unacceptable.
    On the bright side, they must’ve felt threatened by you as a woman writer to make such efforts to shut you up. They wouldn’t have bothered otherwise. Keep your chin up.

  78. Cathi Alonzo says:

    Dear Ann,
    I am a reader and not an author, but I have been reading SF/Fantasy for a very long time. I have read a lot of authors, and I love Jax and the whole Grimspace verse. I can’t figure out how that series is not SF. I cut my SF teeth on the big names, but explain to me how “Stranger in a Strange Land” is not full of emotion and sex. What about Dune, that book is full of relationships and how they are distorted. If Jax is not SF then neither is the Vorkosigan adventures, and LMB definitely writes SF -just like Grimpace verse, there is spaceships and everything. I really want to know what ‘there’ version of SF is if Jax is not SF. I am proud of you for standing up to this bullying in such a gracious manner. Thank-you for the great books.

  79. Amy Reynolds says:

    Just bought your book. Look forward to reading and enjoying it. Keep up the good fight and paving the way for the talented young women coming up!

  80. Nancy A. Collins says:

    “I don’t care about that anymore. If this means I don’t get into anthos or invited to parties, I don’t give a fuck. I care more about doing the right thing, about speaking out, so maybe other women who have had these experiences will do the same. If enough of us gather the courage to say, “Hey, look, this is NOT ALL RIGHT,” maybe the world will change. And if not, well, at least I stood up. I spoke. I didn’t sit quiet as a victim of sexism and let it happen.”

    I made pretty much the same decision when I decided to speak out and start the boycott against DragonCon. Fandom has a long and rather unhealthy history of not just sexism, but turning a blind eye to genuine sexual harassment & abuse. I like to think that the steadily rising percentage of women in Fandom is finally forcing change on what has, up until recently, been an Old Boys Club. And one founded not by cool nerds, but by yesteryear’s dorks.

    http://www.atlantamagazine.com/agenda/2013/03/28/dragoncon-ceo-feeling-pressure-from-proposed-boycott

  81. Grimspace was one of the first books I read that made me acknowledge that part of myself that desperately wanted to write sci-fi and say, “YES, this is what I want to read, maybe I can do this too.” I’m sorry that some of the male sci-fi authors out there are being so horrible, but just know that you’ve inspired another generation of female sci-fi writers too.

  82. Dawn Phynix says:

    I will go buy your books, as a thank you for this post. I think it is ricockulous that you are being treated this way. I am a writer, and I hope this shit doesn’t continue. You will not be alone; by speaking out, you are summoning to yourself a crowd of supporters, who have either been through similar situations, or are not willing to see this continue.

    You are brave. I respect that so much.

  83. John Nikitow says:

    Ann:

    Good for you! Continue to stand up and fight for what is right. As you say, if you continue, others will join with you and this despicable nonsense will cease.

  84. Martha says:

    I’m a female and I like SFF. I like a good story about people and how they overcome whatever obstacle is encountered. I like real people. Not dry characters written by an author more concerned with his own comentary on society. Thank you for sticking to it and writting SFF that entertains as well as helps a reader to see a different view of mankind and society.

  85. Diane Peters says:

    Well you are one of the reasons I buy & read SF. I’ve been reading SF since 1974, looking for mainly woman authors. I like the way woman authors get into their characterizations. Please don’t let those rude blowhards chase you away. There are loyal fans out there rooting for you & other women. It isn’t an old man’s club any more!

  86. Dafydd Williams says:

    I’ve just read all the other mails that you appended to the original post. Bloody hellfire.

    Isn’t it interesting that those “commentators” haven’t the guts to come here and share their views?

  87. alumiere says:

    I’m not a pro, just a regular attendee, and I gave up on most cons years ago. I got tired of the endless harassment and questions about what I was doing there as I’m female, and apparently that makes me fair game for bullshit.

    It’s a shame, because I’d actually like to go and enjoy myself. But it’s not worth the hassle with (so far) the exception of Bent-con. The LGBT SFF/comic con in LA has a zero tolerance policy and have been incredibly welcoming and inclusive.

  88. Kristin A. says:

    Oh Hell No, those men need a swift kick to the groin. Just because you’re a female writing SF doesn’t mean it’s any less credible than that from a male writer. Some egos just can’t handle a woman who does something as good or maybe even better than them. It’s good you’re speaking up about this and showing that even in this day and age sexism is still alive and unfortunately well.

  89. Good for you Ann! {fistbump} No matter what anyone says you are a fantastic writer and I enjoy your work immensely. It’s writers like you who are opening up opportunities and exposure to sci-fi for more women. It’s never easy to be a trailblazer, but thank you for taking on that mantle.

    I’ve never understood why science fiction is so male-dominated. I’m a girl, and since seeing Star Wars at age 5, I’ve been in love with the genre. (In fact, I’m watching Star Trek IV right now. lol) Just the idea of whole worlds and different people and creatures and cultures and values, opens up infinite possibilities in the imagination, inspires creativity, and causes me to realize important things about the world as I see it.

    There’s joy in weirdness. And joy in “nerdiness.” And it’s ok to love it and write it, no matter your gender. There’s a quote I love from Stargate, “Sci-Fi is an existential metaphor that allows us to tell stories about the human condition.” Human. Last I checked, girls fit in that definition.

  90. I’m sorry this is happening to you, but thanks for writing. I recently had a CNN piece on gender norms and my daughter. Hundred, perhaps thousands (I didn’t count) of comments attacked me, questioned my parenting, my sexuality, my politics, even my reality. I was featured on a conspiracy website as part of the communist sharia plot to destroy America.

    I mention this because here’s my conclusion – when they attack you, you know you’re on the right path. Good work here, keep calling out the double standards and hate, publicly, and know that when a few dozen attack, hundreds, perhaps thousands, are standing behind you, cheering you on, buying your books, and thanking you for giving voice to this issue.

  91. Alex von der Linden says:

    It’s shitty that happens, and I’m sorry that you go through that.

    I read Grimspace in May of 2010, while I was between the Navy and the Army, and home for my sister’s graduation from college. I got it from the library, and when I read it, made a point to go hunt do the sequel from the library as well. Sure it was different than what I’ve read previously, but that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? To me, Sci Fi is about exploring the future and how that is interpreted. If everything was Stranger in a Strange Land… well fuck reading that.

    I’m going to be completely honest, up until recently I didn’t give a damn who wrote the books I was reading. As long as it was something worth reading, the gender/race/religion/political views/etc. mattered not at all to me. That seemed pretty extraneous to the book I was trying to read. But then I found out about the other contender for SFWA presidency. And I started reading his blog, and looking at some of what he had to say and I decided that not only would I never buy a book that man had written, but I also wouldn’t borrow it from the library, illegal download it, accept it as a gift, or in anyway cause it to be readable by me.

    Thank you for your books, and thank you for your outrage.

  92. Kimberley Coover says:

    Thank you for all your work. I love your books and am relieved that you will continue to write and enrich my library with your wonderful words! I am so proud that you have stood up to the bullying that is out there. You are helping more people by your actions than you know. It is so sad the number of mean hateful people who are so quick to type nastiness and hate. Little minded people who only know how to tear down others. I image that most of the haters have not even picked up and read your books…their loss. Maybe their Mothers didn’t tell them ” If you don’t have anything nice to say say nothing”.

    Don’t lose heart because of these “scifi readers” who have issues with women writers – You have loyal readers who love your work and look forward to each and every book. God bless

  93. Ann,

    You’re amazing. Keep writing your awesome SFF books and ignore the hatred. I have received a lot of the same sort of treatment in the horror community. Some of the most blatantly sexist comments have been made to my face by both men and women. I have also been ignored by horror fans at events because of my gender. You know, because they read “real horror.” A male zombie author described my SF/Horror novel as chick-lit because of the romantic interest of my female protagonist. When fans of the book responded and disagreed, he was convinced I had sicced them on him even though I was traveling at the time and had spotty coverage on my phone. He also called me a “bitch” and offered to beat up any of my fans who wanted to fly to where he lives for a face to face. Yeaaaaaah….

    It really is time to start speaking up and not suffer in silence anymore.

    Thank you so much for writing this post.

    Rhiannon

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      I am so sorry this happened to you. But thank you for speaking out. The only ones who benefit when we keep quiet are bigots and misogynists.

    • Galena says:

      I really need to know who this male zombie author is, so that I can never buy his work. I love zombie books (and yours are awesome!!!) so I really, really don’t want to support such a dick and accidentally buy his work. If you don’t want to publicly shame him, I can definitely understand not wanting to deal with any potential fallout, but please consider it.

  94. kate rothwell says:

    It’s sad when writers feel so threatened they have to belittle other people. I kind of expect the cutting and shit-talk in those insecure years between 11-18, but this kind of behavior in adults, in writers, makes me dizzy with that WTF? What does anyone gain from this garbage talk?

    I wish I could give you an extra dose of outrage to help cope, maybe a pair of fireproof iron gloves to handle the excrement, but I expect maybe just doing what you do–going to conferences, writing books people love–will eventually become the change.

  95. MIchael Grey says:

    I’m constantly surprised that this kind of behaviour still occurs, but that it happens in such an arena of SF really shocks me. I’d not especially active in the SF community down here in Australia, but what panels and get togethers I’ve been involved with have treated women and men as the equals they are.

    I’m saddened that so many female authors have been treated this way by boys with delusions of man-hood. Hopefully open and honest accounts such as Anna’s will push SF towards the inclusive community it claims to have.

  96. Fred Hintze says:

    Ann:
    I am sorry that you have had to deal with the idiots, cooks, and crazies…could anything be more stupid than thinking that the bathroom you use defines how well you write, or speak, or paint…I anticipate the pleasure of hunting down your books and devouring them.

  97. Shannan says:

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to post this!

    I must confess that I haven’t read your books – not by design- but after many years as a SF fan, I just went off the genre a few years ago. No one reason & not in protest , just changing book tastes I guess.

    I’ve had the experience as a reader and fan also of being brushed off or made uncomfortable & I’ve never been able to read those authors again.

    I’m actually in a predominantly female profession but still I’ve experienced this kind of sexism – I fear it’s still more systemic than we’d like to hope.

    The only thing to do is exactly what you’re doing and never stop: keep standing up, looking bullies and sexist nitwits in the eyes and remind them that their behaviour is NOT OKAY!

    Go you and keep standing up – and grab that microphone right out of his hands if you have to!

  98. Rick LeBlanc says:

    I’m a mere reader, but the cowardice demonstrated by these males, obviously lacking cojones, is beyond the pale. As a reader, please list their names and I will STOP BUYING THEIR BOOKS. It’s the 21st century, either the wussies grow up & apologize, profusely, or suffer debt and poverty. I will pass this around to hundreds. Looking forward to buying yours though.

    Thank you for for the essay.

    Rick LeBlanc. reader

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  100. Meg says:

    That am some serious bullshit right there. Fuck these guys and their elitist clubhouses.

    If you are looking for conventions that scorns dudes like that, WisCon is a glorious place. It’s a microcosm inside a microcosm, but it’s this hopeful hint of what would be possible when dudes get carrot-and-sticked into behaving like fellow human beings instead of sexist fucks.

  101. The old saying is still true: “Pigs is pigs.”

    Some of them write sf.

    The rest of them are scattered throughout the population.

    It’s safe to ignore them — even more fun to laugh at their insecurity, of which they have an endless supply.

    Keep doing what you’re doing!

  102. CC Denham says:

    Ann – All I can do is add my outrage and thank you for speaking out. Every time a woman speaks up and says, “No, I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up,” to this kind of treatment, the path widens just a little bit more for another woman to do the same. Keep it up. You’re awesome.

  103. MrFancyPants says:

    Like Shannan@96, I kind of left the SF genre some years ago. But I’m going to go buy Grimspace right now. There need to be more women writing in “traditionally male” genres like SF, and in general, more women in “traditionally male” roles. Diverse viewpoints enrich us.

  104. Vala says:

    I can’t believe that sexist shit is still going on. Many, nay most, of my current favourite sff writers are women. Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Shin, Wen Spencer… I haven’t read any of your work but I’ll start looking for it. How well this post is written attests to your skill.

  105. Andres Aguirre says:

    I don’t usually comment on my wife’s blog: I’ve full confidence in her ability to weather what comes.
    I’ve seen her fight and struggle over the last ten years and more, never giving up. She’s better suited to tell what she’s been through; all I can contribute is that:

    1. She’s a wonderful woman, and not one to keep to herself when she believes in something.
    2. She loves to write. And she writes for her readers as much as for herself.
    3. She’s fortunate to have supportive friends, readers and acquaintances to help remind her of that.

    So, for the record: I’m proud of her, and should really tell her that more often. :)

  106. Thank you Ann, a thousand times over, for writing this post.

    A couple of years ago I wrote a SF novella, and started the SF circuit of attending cons … I was told this was the way to get things done. Socialize and mix. Pay homage to those who already had the accolades.
    I was lucky enough to have met some wonderful writers and some sincere people who were interested in the art of writing.

    However, I quickly withdrew from the genre. Or at least the public sphere of the genre. I will not lie. Those cons were one of the reasons.
    By day, I work in social justice … in anti-racism in fact. When I stopped going to cons, I didn’t name it as sexism at the time … but I told a friend, “when I work everyday to create systems and organizations that judges people by their merit, it is physically sickening for me to participate in those cons … ”

    I didn’t like the way *I* got treated (even when it was positive, it wasn’t always for my writing), I didn’t like the way I saw some women got treated, I didn’t like that it was perfectly acceptable to focus on who you know and I did not at ALL like the fact that there were some people I was *supposed* to be nice to, even though I didn’t like how they talked to me. (And no, I’m not picky – I just don’t think a discussion on how I need to be wearing sexier clothes is an appropriate topic when I just met you)

    Your posting was so affirming.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. It gives me hope … and knowing how systemic discrimination works … I see it so clearly now. People think – what do a couple of sexist comments do in the big run? I’ll tell you what they do. They discourage women like me from staying and writing SF. And that’s what discrimination does – it limits opportunities and potential of those who are marginalized. But, the first step is recognition! I won’t be deterred again!

    Best wishes,
    Roxanne
    p.s. I might use this as an example in my workshops now!

  107. Mary Branscombe says:

    Elderly, distinguished sexist pigs shouldn’t get the benefit of being elderly and distinguished. Go you for speaking out. And every supportive man in here; would you consider pledging that you’ll stand up and say “that’s not ok” if you ever hear crap like this happening? Disapproval by peers might be the best way to change this.

  108. TogathMage says:

    Okay, first I’ll start by saying I’m a little drunk.
    In vino veratis, though, right? In wine, truth?

    So… yeah. They’ll have treated you that way. And you’ve (like me) been conditioned to not call them on it.

    And, those fictional characters who emailed the hate twaddle? I looked at that and thought “this is surely deliberate attempts to keep the controversy going.” Because it is such obvious twaddle.

    I mean, yeah, I know that Westboro Baptist Church and its analogs still exist, and people have been indoctrinated, or are so threatened/fuddled that they do put forth & apparently believe nonsense like this, but really? It just shows “oh, this is why Joan of Arc, and Martin Luther King Jr., & Suzie B. (sorry, alcohol blasted mind won’t bring her name to tongue/fingers) the suffragette from USA history, had to run around with axes, and swords, and million man marches, we’re supposed to be more aware than this!”

    I mean, geeze. I was raised as anti-mixed race couples, and anti-gay, and anti-asian, and anti- , well, fill in the blank. And I recently mentioned to my siblings that “If I’d realized in time that I could be a lesbian, I might have been gay,” and they were rolling their eyes, with the usual “Duh, Sister” response they use when I notice that the sky is blue (or gray, cloud cover, don’tcha know) or yeah, I’m being snarly because Mother Nature is visiting with Auntie Flow.
    And right now my closest IRL friend is a gay man, and I took the time, in offering to invite him for dinner, to suggest that I could invite another, younger, gay man at the same time, to make sure he wouldn’t worry I had designs on his bod. As opposed to having to invite another one or two women to make sure he wouldn’t try something funky on me. In spite of an experience years ago with a “friend of the family” attempting acquaintance rape on me. Because I’ve managed to assimilate the cultural updates to the point I don’t want HIM uncomfortable, rather than being uncomfortable myself.

    I wouldn’t feel that safe at a SF con.

    There’s an old saying “We stand tall because we stand on the shoulders of GIANTS.” Or maybe it’s their corpses, because the arrows/bullets of the time were pointed pretty heavily at the “normal people” who rushed the walls, and fell, and were climbed over by more “average” people, who also fell, but… we climb, and we reach the parapets, and we grapple with the enemy who hold the fort. And in due course, there are enough of us that we can storm the castle and win the day.

    So, I AM sorry that it has sucked to be one of the earlier generations whose corpses litter the foot of the castle walls, but know that I, and others after me, honor you and your sisters/brothers who went into that hail of missiles and gave us the boost that lets us inside the castle gates.

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  110. Jaimie says:

    Do not let these douchebags bring you down or dishearten you. I know it’s easy to say and not easy to do but the assholes sending you hateful emails? Clearly are jealous because they are more than likely wanna be authors who have no talent. So happy to see you stand up for yourself. Hopefully other amazing authors will as well. Keep writing and pissing them off more with your success :)

  111. Impetua says:

    I am an occasional reader of SFF. I haven’t read your book but you can bet I will now. Chin up, “girlie.” You’re valid and bona fide and anybody who says otherwise is a jerk and a simpleton. You’re not asking to be thought of as special here, just equal. Too bad a lot of idiots out there think they can corner the market on equality by having a wiener. Could it be — oh, just could it — that by “letting” you be equal, they might feel less special themselves?

    If you never get accepted into the club, I hope you know that it’s not a club worth getting into. Frankly I think if you’re boring the shit out of SFF con audiences with stories about how awesome it used to be before all these damn women came onto the scene forty-odd years ago, you’re just showing yourself to be a cranky old man who needs a nap.

    When I was young I read Heinlein, right up until “Friday.” That ended that. I’m worth more than that garbage, my brain cells are worth more than that garbage. Keep writing the good stuff and don’t let these turkeys get you down!

  112. Gustav says:

    Hi Ann

    I’m with you all the way. Stand up for the women of SF and confront those old farts. I am a big fan of SF and for the most part I think it is fantastic. That guy (I’m assuming) who wrote to you and thought that SF was only about “big issues” and did not have “filth”, (I’m assuming he meant sex) is quite clearly a moron. He might be right in that SF has not had a great deal of sex in it in the past. That is not a positive thing, it is a flaw, and something to be remedied. Sex is a basic (and big) part of the human condition. So of course it should be part of the SF genre too. How much, that is up to every author to decide. Also, he is blatantly assuming that sex and gender are not “big issues”, they are.

    As for that guy who called your work drivel because you wrote to much/quickly. I assume he doesn’t consider people like Isaac Asimov to be true SF authors either. If I remember correctly Mr. Asimov had some 500 works published during his career.

    About how you were treated (and authors like you) at those cons. If they can’t get a handle on how female authors (especially junior female authors) are treated in panels (and at cons in general), perhaps they should adopt new guidelines/rules for how the people in charge put those panels together. Perhaps having something close to an even gender ratio in the panel should be a requirement, especially if it includes junior authors. Or perhaps when they get panels with only one woman they should try to make her the most senior author on that panel. For such things to happen though, it would require that the people responsible for the cons admit that this is actually a problem. We will have to see if they do.

    Stay strong and keep fighting the good fight. Keep writing more women into SF. And write however much sex you want into your books.

  113. Crane Hana says:

    Thanks for standing up, Ann. You said what a lot of us have been itching to say for years. I’m much newer to the game, but I’ve noticed a lot of the same dynamics. It breaks my heart, too, since I’ve been reading SFF since 1975 (I have paperbacks older than many new agents). I love the old classics and the new standards. I see the circled wagons from certain camps of authors and SFF celebrities, and I wish I could tell them: ‘We’re not out to ruin your party.’ We just want to join in.

    Because I write strong erotic content in most of my work, I chose to publish in erotic romance (even though my work is really just space opera with extra sizzle.) That strategy has its own pitfalls with the romance crowd, but my welcome in that genre has been far warmer than it ever was in mainstream SFF. I’m deciding if attending local and national SFF conventions is worth the money and hassle: is it better to pick my battles and stick with romance, or to fight for inclusion in my first-loved genres?

    Posts like yours make me think the battle might be worth fighting.

  114. Beth C. says:

    As many have stated – I find this so sad. As a prolific reader, of just about every genre, I have always looked up to authors. Anyone who can craft a world that I can escape into and be touched by, has always been hero-like to me. If I had one wish, it would be to have that ability. Yet here we are, learning that those worlds may often disguise a disgust of women that flows to the core.

    As far as I’m concerned, and I *KNOW* I am not alone in this – I don’t care about the sex of the author, the color, the religion, or anything else when I am reading a book. If it’s a story that transports me and touches me, then all is right with the world.

    Rock on, Anne. You and every other author who is working hard, and giving a small piece of your soul in every story that you write. And to hell with the asshats (one of my favorite words – so appropriate for so many situations) who feel the need to speak and act in a way I wouldn’t let my 6-year-old. Their words may sting, and their actions may cut, but you will grow stronger while they continue to wither away into the land of absurdity.

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  116. Maria Seager says:

    I grew up reading EVERYTHING and I preferred authors even way back in the 70’s who emphasized relationships and character development within the story. I didn’t care if the author was male or female, but I wanted stories with heroes and heroines with whom I could relate, in the world I live/lived in (which is near Cal Tech and JPL), there are men and women and both are in leadership roles.

    Of course this sort of response is no surprise at all which is terribly sad in itself. There was what happened earlier this year to Zerlina Maxwell when she spoke out about changing our discussion of rape to one that emphasized educating men about respecting women’s bodily autonomy and then she received hate e-mail threatening her with rape similar to your e-mail above. There was also what happened to Anita Sarkeesian last year when she announced a new series titled, “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games”. She received emails of herself being raped by video game characters.

    Yes, the only way to move forward when dinosaurs, no matter their age, rear up and roar, is to stand up to them and know when you do that we are with you. Now, I have to go buy your book(s) and read them because clearly you are doing something right or your stories wouldn’t be so threatening to others. AND if you are ever at a SciFi conference in the LA area and there IS a panel of ALL female authors let me know. It’ll be my first SciFi Con and I’ll be sure to let the organizers know why I am attending.

  117. barbara r says:

    Interesting that the same thing is happening in the media right now! Lou Dobbs and his FOX network cronies are all up in arms as working women are destroying the very fabric of society… Although I haven’t read any of your books yet (I’m somewhat behind in my reading), I realized that a number of my favorite SFF authors are, in fact, women! Hang in there!

  118. Ross Presser says:

    I am deeply troubled by the behavior of these people. I wish to apologize for them. I know that my apology means nothing.

    I also intend to read some of your fiction.

  119. Philomene says:

    You reminded me why I love SF, they remind me why I stopped talking about it to people who love labels so much they believe you can’t read romance and SF, you can’t have boobs and not know how to cook (hm, so, these are not boobs on my chest?).

    I admired you for a long while as a writer and now I admire you as a person. Thank you. When someone stands up, it’s not only one issue (women, in this case, yes?) that gains from it, but every issue.

    I have been told I can’t understand SF because I’m a girl (but look up, I don’t cook, so maybe I’m not a girl?), can’t write it because I’m a girl and prefer history to science.
    I have been warmed not to try to become a history researcher because one day I would have kids and would need to take care of them, and, you know, research is hard work (yes, kids are not – and btw, never had kids, the guys who got the job did…).

    I do hate people who will see the world in you are this (and only this) there therefore you are that. Neat little boxes to keep the contagion away from them, I guess.
    I do love blurry lines and people who are just who they are, a mix of things that won’t fit just one big label.

    But there are some reverse cases. I’ve started working as a secretary in an almost all guys firm, mostly geeks, major Star Trek fans and there I was just accepted. Yes, I don’t understand science and computers as well as they do, but then, they don’t know Dr Who as well as I. We discuss and argue and it feels good.

    The only one who doesn’t like SF there is the one who told me I could bring food when I make extra and who explained, gently, what a tab was in a browser.

    Labels never fit. The world is too large.
    Thank you for being just who you are and writing varied and captivating books, and sharing your current experience.

    Hope we’re all loud enough to drown the bullies and the intolerants who would reduce their world to just what they like out there.

  120. Ann, you are awesome. I have been publishing SF for a long time and I understand the attitudes you are dealing with even though I have never experienced anything so extreme as you describe here. Thanks for speaking up, thanks for writing. It takes courage.

    I don’t how to express my outrage about the hate mail (although I understand this happens to women who speak up all the time). It makes my blood boil to read these quotes.

  121. Laurel C Kriegler says:

    I am relieved to hear that David Brin, at least, is a decent man, because he is one of my favourite reads when it comes to the SF genre. I hope that he, and others like him (if there are any?) will begin to stand up for what’s right more and more.

  122. Mark says:

    There isn’t much for me to add to the comments above, other than a lot of +1’s.

    +1 for women writing Sci-Fi.
    +1 for sex being a legitimate part of real art.

  123. Sam Stevens says:

    Hi Ann, I’m utterly shocked that this type of behaviour still exists in this day & age. And to be frank, even more appalled by some of the responses you’re receiving, but equally shows their level of intelligence if that’s the best they can come up with! I love your books, and to be honest, as a rule prefer female authors as there tends to be more heart in their books & the characters actually people you’d want to hang out with or aspire to be. I’m sorry that you have to suffer this as part of your job and can only hope that these thugs drag themselves into this century some time soon! Keep up the good work and don’t give the feckers any more thought than they deserve.

  124. Tiffany says:

    WOW! And not in a good way!

    1. I would like to know specifically which authors these were. A private message is fine if you do not want to out them. I’d rather NOT give them any of my money.

    2. Those replies are even MORE disturbing than I expected! (Also, OPs who wrote those nasty words in: learn to write better. I will never take anyone seriously who cannot use simple homonyms correctly.

    3. This is a disturbing trend lately. I just finished skimming a magazine article on this same trend and how people seem to think it’s okay. It is NOT okay. I’m tired of “jokes” about a woman’s place, about domestic violence used to teach a woman her place, etc. It’s disgusting. I can only hope that the women out there are smart enough to deny these men sexual relations so as not to let their DNA continue.

    I’m sorry you experienced such a shitty situation, especially when it should’ve been something fun and exciting to celebrate your writing. Now I’m going to look up anyone on those panels with you. If they didn’t say something, they are guilty by association and definitely will not be seeing a dime of my money. Jerks.

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  127. not feeling very nymous says:

    The only one of your books I’ve read is Grimspace, which I’m afraid I didn’t like very much (I didn’t think the world-building hung together well), but the behavior you’ve endured is shocking and insupportable, and that hate-mail makes me ashamed for my gender. Please keep fighting.

  128. Rosa says:

    Just wanted to add my thanks to you for writing this post. Please keep speaking out and reaching the people who want to listen..we are out here…and I think we out number the mush mouths you quoted at the end of your blog entry. Keep talking it gives the rest of us strength…thanks again…and I look forward to reading your books!

  129. Ann, thank you for posting this. And thank you for speaking up. I’m a new author and though I don’t write SF, I do write romance.

    I’m truly disgusted to read that this is how male authors and maybe even some female readers are acting. It’s a representation of the ignorance and prejudice that still thrives in our world today.

    Keep writing, as I’m sure you will. But more importantly, keep your chin up!
    Dorothy

  130. Well said. It is horrid to hear how badly you have been treated. I’ve never been to an SF Con (I’m going to my first this year in London, UK) so I have no idea what they are like, but from what you describe it sounds like there are a lot of bad attitudes out there.

    On the plus side, this post is being shared through my social media which means that people (like me) who haven’t tried your work yet will do so. I look forward to it.

    +1 to the person commenting who pointed out that a lot of SF imagines possible futures, when (I sincerely hope) there’s a good chance we will have got over dumb sexual stereotyping.

  131. Virginia says:

    I’m an author (romance) and I’m totally shocked that this happened… Well, almost totally. One of my male friends is just starting out as a romance writer and he at RWA conferences he gets a lot of unwanted attention, sometimes culminating in a light touch on the butt. SERIOUSLY.

    That grown adults can act so badly makes me despair.

    I don’t read much SF, but both of my daughters (13, 12) are SF nuts and read everything that comes out. For them, I thank you for writing. For all of us, I thank you for standing up as a woman who has had enough.

    Remember there is a crowd of SF loving women waiting and watching you, cheering you on when it gets hard. Thank you for posting this.

  132. C.M. Simpson says:

    I just want to say ‘thank you’. It’s disheartening to hear about those male sf writers behaving in such an appalling fashion, but it’s heartening to hear at least one of them behaved well. (And I’m glad, because I like Brin’s work, too.) I own all your Jax novels, and I’m about to start on your other work. In my opinion, your sf is up there with Scalzi, Foster, Weber, Moon, Shepherd, Norton and Bujold, and I hope all those folk have treated you well. SF doesn’t just touch on issues, it explores worlds and possibilities, and sometimes it tells a very fine story that takes us away from reality and makes us happy. Your work does that, so thank you for persevering in the face of such poor attitudes and treatment, and thank you for sharing so that others may take courage in the face of similar experiences.

  133. I don’t even know what to say about what you have experienced and about the cretins who open their illiterate sexist mouths in response. I’m glad you have the guts to speak up. It is my firm belief things will change with time, but only if we work at it. Thank you.

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  135. Alyssa says:

    Hi, my name is Alyssa and a friend of mine sent me this link and reading about what happened to you at cons made me so angry for you. I want you to know that I had never heard of you before, but now that I have seen this I will be looking out for you and anticipating your writing. I am sure I will enjoy it. And want you to know that if I ever am lucky enough to meet you. I want you to know that I am glad you stood up for yourself and that I hope the next time you go to a con you are treated with the respect every person deserves.

    Don’t stop standing up for yourself.

    Alyssa

  136. I’ve gravitated to science fiction since my early childhood. There is no other genre in the world where a woman can be strong, independent, and unashamed of who she is as a character. Science fiction is empowering for women.

    Authors are strange creatures. We spend most of our days and nights in our own head and it causes our entire world to revolve around us. The more involved with your own world, the more selfish you become. Science fiction requires a deeper jump into your own head and it can cause a serious disconnect on social skills…especially in public.

    Of course some people are just jerks. Some are finicky about their science fiction. Everyone has an opinion. You don’t write your books to please other science fiction authors, though…

    Ann, your books got me through dark times in a bad deployment. I shared your books with my fellow sci fi junkies (and most of them were men). They also loved your books. It gave us something to talk about and look forward to in between some tough shit.

    Sir Anthony Hopkins said it best…”My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.” You are a wonderful influence and great author. Please don’t let this discourage you.

    Dawn

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  138. Jette says:

    name and shame the dinosaurs. Women have been writing and reading SF almost as long as SF has been written and read – but these days they no longer write under male pen-names.

  139. Vicki says:

    Thank you for speaking out. It is truly appreciated.

  140. Jo Hall says:

    Hi Anne,

    I confess I’ve not read your books yet, but if you’re ever in the vicinity and want to be on a BristolCon panel, we’d welcome you with open arms.

  141. ElvinaGB says:

    It’s shameful you were treated this way. But keep doing what you are doing, you love to write, it’s your passion so keep doing what you do. The school library where I work no longer classifies our fiction by genre, we shelve them all together, fiction, romance, SF, mystery, horror, etc. We only separate the adult and YA. To us fiction is fiction, and we find students will pick up books that they previously didn’t look at.
    I’m glad your visit to a Canadian Con was so positive so come back any time eh!

  142. I can’t abide this behavior and I’m sorry that you’ve had to put up with it. I can’t understand how this is still an issue in 2013, and I’m glad that you had the courage to speak up about it. There’s something ironic about men writing about the future who are stuck in the past, but mostly it’s just despicable, cowardly, regressive, and short-sighted. Sharing.

  143. psutto says:

    Hi

    Just to let you know we are having a June challenge to read women in SF&F & read new women writers as part of the 2013 challenge on Librarything here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/154893#4129307 after a lot of discussion earlier in the year about gender bias in SF&F wrt reviews and the way women writers are treated by the SF&F community.

    It is right to stand against this. I heartily applaud your post & am spreading the word in my own small way

  144. Anne Michaud says:

    Dear Ann,

    Thank you for speaking out. Thank you for standing up. Thank you for writing, still.

    Love,

    anne:)

  145. Good for you, for writing SF and for speaking out. I’ve been crapped upon by an SF author and several fanzine makers; I’ve wondered how much of the bile I’ve had spewed over me is because I’m female and how much because I’m disabled so I’m an easy target. The more people who stand up and say “this is not acceptable” the better.

  146. Antiqueight says:

    You are awesome. For your work, for your strength in speaking out and for hanging in there when you got such awful treatment.

  147. MikeBSG says:

    I’m appalled by the treatment you have received.

    I’m male and I went to one major convention (World Fantasy Con in 2010.) I found most of the people there to be self-absorbed jerks. While you have clearly had problems with people treating you badly because you are a woman, I think there is a deeper problem in the field of egos run amok (and probably running terrified because of all the changes in publishing.)

    I certainly hope you keep writing science fiction.

  148. Name them, Ann, and some of us may have a word.

  149. Sandra says:

    I am suggesting a type of polite protest us in the audience can do when observing such pimply behavior by a panelist-stand up and turn your back to the panel member. I would be so ticked if my question hijacked and answered by someone else. I think a visual would work so well here.

  150. Ann, I’ve never read your work, but I plan on rectifying that at the first opportunity. The behaviour you describe is appalling and… it just shouldn’t be bloody happening. Not in 2013. (Not that it should have before, but you’d think we’d be past the stage of having to explain that to people.)

    As for the people who wrote those emails… beyond vile. Name and shame the b*st*rds, I say. Especially the slimebag who wrote the second one.

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  152. Bernadette says:

    I don’t really read SF anymore (by women or men) but I do work in the technology sector so I think I have some similar experiences. I’ve often been the only woman in a meeting/room full of male engineers/programmers/other IT workers and have been treated similarly. Have also been at conferences where I am the only woman – and once agreed to do a panel on a subject I am an expert in but was treated in a similar fashion to you so I’ve never said yes again.

    I’m taking the old adage “the best revenge is living well” to heart and I think you seem to be too – you’re continuing to write, to build your fan base and no old dinosaur blokes can take that away from you. I do my job very well and am starting to get better bonuses or perks than many of the male cretins who used to make fun of me. I’ve gotten a couple of promotions now precisely because I can communicate with people who aren’t technical experts, a skill all the blokes think is a complete waste of time.

    Also you’re speaking out which is very important (and very difficult). Well done. Wishing you continued success with your writing.

  153. I had no idea this was STILL happening to women. I think the idea of an all women panel would be awesome. I write and read SF and have since I was younger and this angers me so much. Anne McCaffrey is one of my favorite authors and she inspired me to become a writer. Thank you so much for speaking out against these dinosaurs and keep speaking out. Women have a place in SF. I’m going to check out Grimspace because it sounds awesome!

  154. Karen Dudley says:

    Dear Ann,

    I, too, have had similar experiences. I hope you NEVER sit down. You rock! And it was a real pleasure meeting you at KeyCon!

  155. Eddie says:

    Hi Ann, I must start with a small apology. I’ve purchased a couple of your novels, and something about them just didn’t click with me. I’m glad that they do with other folk, so that you can write what you enjoy and make a living doing so. In fact, I think it’s time to give your work another go.

    Now, a larger apology – I’m a husband of a wonderful woman and the father of another, and if they’d had to put up with what you have, I’d be ready to do murder. Short of that, I’d certainly no longer spend my money buying anything from people who treat half of humanity that way, and I’d be vocal about it.

    For what it’s worth, I’d rather read Anne McCaffrey than Robert Heinlein, any day.

  156. Peter says:

    As a bloke — but that shouldn’t be relevant — I am appalled by the way you’ve been treated by the male geeks and gits who think they care about SF. They don’t, nor do they care about people. Good luck and don’t let those bastards grind you down.

  157. Craig Pay says:

    Great post Ann. It’s about time we men started to speak out about this kind of unacceptable behaviour. I’ve added Grimspace to my to-read list on Goodreads. Can’t find a Kindle copy or I would have grabbed a copy straight away.

  158. Gerri Bowen says:

    Dear Ann,
    I am shocked and saddened this happened to you. That such behavior was condoned is appalling. There are and always will be people, men, who look down on women. Keep on writing and speaking out against the stupidity thrown at you.

  159. Wow, this is disheartening. But I was really glad to hear you mention David Brin, as he’s my favorite sf author and I respect him so much. Glad I can still respect him!

  160. Ann –

    First, you rock the kasbah and thank G-d that Sharia don’t like it! Revolutionaries make waves, and sometimes make unintended enemies, but we can tell a revolution is worthwhile by the gatekeepers’ behavior (e.g. poorly-written or spoken diatribes that attempt to discredit you but contain zero factual or actionable content). Their arguments are vapid and they’ve surely lost their grip: on both reality and power. Which is to say their time is past – or passing – but still you continue to prosper. There’s a reason for that.

    Please don’t ever sit down and shut up. You are such an inspiration to me (as a reader and unpublished author) and to all the girls out there that continue to push against society’s imposed glass ceilings. Some of my favorite SFF authors happen to be femle, and my status as a woman matters naught. As to the groping, etc., I say you do what you need to slap them down hard. As I’m sure you already do. Because you’re awesome. :)

  161. Gwyn says:

    Seriously? Reading your post made my blood boil on your behalf — but then I went to go check my sci fi shelf, and realized it was VERY sparsely populated with female authors. I’d never given much thought to it, or connected that there might be institutional biases at work in the author-gender distribution in sci fi.

    Do you think that the biases extend to publisher’s choices of work to print and promote? Do pen-names do anything to cut back on that? In self-publishing circles, so you see a completely different gender distribution in sci fi than you do in traditional publishing houses?

  162. Tobi Summers says:

    Please don’t ever sit down and shut up. The world needs more strong women like you to stand up and say, “It’s not okay for anyone to be treated like this!” I love your Razorland trilogy (is it October yet?), and Grimspace is high on my TBR list.

  163. Ju says:

    So, I got linked to this thanks to @krasnostein and… all I can really say is that I sincerely wish this crap wasn’t still happening. Also, it sounds like you right exactly my kind of SF and I’m heading to Goodreads right now to add your stuff to my ‘to read’ list. Your outspoken awesomeness is appreciated!

  164. “Grimspace” is one of my favorite books of all times. I can’t believe those emails. Seriously. I mean, I’ve seen some pretty intense kerfuffles (being an ebook author and a member of Romancelandia) but this is unbelievable.
    It is ironic that a genre that has always tried to create worlds based on humanity’s progress show such Neanderthal behavior.

  165. Rich Meyer says:

    I do so wish you would’ve named some of these “writers” on these panels who dissed you. I certainly don’t want to be inadvertently supporting assholes by buying their books. I rarely worry about who is the “who” creating what I read, as long as it’s interesting, but there are certain things a person just can’t tolerate.

    That’s one of the reasons I won’t read Orson Scott Card’s books anymore.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      It wouldn’t be hard for someone with good Google-fu to identify them. I decided not to name them because I didn’t want this to devolve into finger pointing. It’s not really about what one author or fan did or said to me. It’s about the systemic, endemic problem in SFF as a whole.

  166. I’m so angry at these nameless people, because you deserve to be treated better than that. I’ve met you a handful of times and you’ve always been lovely, had great things to say and I love being excited about your books with you. Screw what the haters say, you write amazing science fiction that speaks to an unrecognized demographic. There are lots of women out there who want to read MORE science fiction. Okay, so it’s never going to be a huge, sell-out kind of audience, but those people are loyal and excited and just want more great stories.

    Science fiction was the first thing I ever wrote. I loved it. But I was shy about telling people I wrote because I was in high school and after winning all the middle school story/writing awards, the mocking got pretty bad from my classmates. After talking about the Dragon Riders of Pern series with my science/chemistry teacher in high school, I confided in him that I was writing science fiction and how exciting it was to use material from class to formulate some of my theories. His response? Later that day in class he told my period about my book, what I was writing and proceeded to go on for most of the hour about why women shouldn’t write science fiction. There was a lot of laughing and name calling that day. I think that two things kept it from being the worst situation: 1) I sat in the back of the class and 2) my best friend was also a writer and sitting next to me going to bat for me. I haven’t given up writing science fiction, but I do it for myself now. If I write SF or SFR, it’s because the story makes me believe in something fantastical.

    Okay, I’ve gone on at length on your comments. Sorry about that. This whole mess has me irritated. You rock, Ann!

  167. VickiC11 says:

    I am so sorry this has been happening to you! Thank you for speaking out and becoming a strong leader against bullying by men. We women need to speak out and stand strong together or nothing will change!

  168. Michelle says:

    Oh, Ann, I am so sad to hear how sexist pigs still exist in our world, especially in the writing world. You are a Best Selling author, and those jerks are so jealous. I see your Sci-Fi in the ranks of Star Wars and Star Trek. There is action, new worlds, new concepts, and as a bonus, the characters are amazing. They have feelings, and that adds a human touch to the cold hard science facts of SF. I don’t read SF. Your Jax series turned me on to the genre. I also don’t read fantasy or SF by men, mainly because I know there will be sexist mistakes with the female characters.
    I really wish you could be on a writer’s track at DragonCon in Atlanta. The ladies that run the panel are awesome; Belle Books/Bell Bridge, based in Georgia. Nancy Knight, who works for them, is a doll. Usually each year they have a panel about female characters and female authors. The authors they have to speak are nice people. I have experienced the loudmouth author disrupting the panel, or some panels getting off-topic due to an audience question, but usually everyone is very respectful and the audience learns a lot from the professionals. You would fit in perfectly. I would love to hear you speak and have you sign all my Jax books. I think it is amazing how many stories you crank out! I especially love your short chapters in the Jax series–it keeps the reader’s attention and it just goes well with the genre, because Sirantha is always on the move. You are above these jerks that choose to live in the dark ages. They will never have the skill and talent of bringing characters into the reader’s heart. Vel and March and Sirantha are in my world forever. I am proud to have discovered your books, and I would happily stand up and speak out for you in front of any sexist men on a panel. I will continue to buy your books and support your work, because I have the highest respect for you.

  169. Paul Riddell says:

    To add to all of the others who agree with you, I’d like to add my two cents, as pathetic and unnecessary as they are. Let the Cat Piss Men cry and whine about how a “fake geek girl” is ruining their precious science fiction. If it’s any help, I’ve been noticing some very encouraging trends in fandom over the last five years or so, and they’re rapidly coming to a head. Namely, the whining and crying coming from the old guard is due to the fact that they know they’re no longer the majority, and that new people have new and better ideas as to where to take the genre, and they don’t like, even a little bit, that they’re no longer able to control where the conversations go. Not only do I not expect you to sit down, and by extension shut up, but I’ll be honored to stand alongside you.

  170. I am so mad about this. I cannot even begin to express my sorrow and regret that this is still going on. Thank goodness you posted about it. And the people who run the cons should be embarrassed

  171. Bobbee says:

    I love your writing! This makes me wonder what pioneering female SF writers, like Ursula LeGuin and Anne McCaffrey, got from their fellow writers. It must have been horrible.
    You’d think that scifi must be written directly with the penis to be valid. What a crock of shit. I wonder how these people’s souls got so shrunken and bitter.

    THEY are the sad ones, not you.

  172. Stuart Aken says:

    I’m staggered at the ignorance, immaturity, crudity and simple lack of intelligence displayed by the men who have commented on your piece. I write both SF and fantasy. I am a man. I can think of no reason why a writer of any gender should not write in any genre or comment about it. The worlds of science and of fantasy are certainly NOT exclusively male domains. It’s impossible for me to comprehend why men who are, presumably, scientists would express such neanderthal opinions. For what it’s worth, Ann, you have my support. I wish you continuing success with your writing and I hope you won’t allow the idiocy, prejudice and bullying ignorance of these individuals to stop you writing, commenting and expressing your valid and valued opinions.

  173. Eric says:

    Wow. I knew it was bad out there, but this certainly takes the cake. For the record, I have not read any of your work. Actually, I haven’t read a whole lot since 2006, when our first child was born, since I’ve been extremely busy with life. However, now that my two girls are a little older and a little more independent, I can back to reading the sci-fi and fantasy books I have always loved. I will certainly look up your work to start in on, once I finish with Mr. Brin’s latest novel (which I got as a present recently). Oh, and your little anecdote about him just raised my respect of him as an author several notches, and it was already pretty high.

    I also wanted you to know that my favorite modern sci-fi books (meaning written since 1985) are the Uplift series by David Brin and the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. A wonderful sci-fi series by an intelligent author who happens to be female. Please take heart that there are many of us who are fans of the genre and are much more interested in what you have to say than in what fiddly bits you have in your nether regions, but are not able to make it to the big conventions.

    I actually kind of wish you named the asshat authors so I could take that information into account when choosing the next book I read. Many people who are asses in real life tend to have characters that are asses, and I really don’t feel like attempting to identify with such characters. Now, a strong, intelligent female character is fine for me, as it will help me understand my daughters a bit better, and I want to do everything in my power to ensure they become strong, intelligent, highly capable women.

    -Eric

  174. At the last World Fantasy con I had a lovely conversation with a well-known writer who has been in the industry since before I was born. He started telling me the names of all the people I should try to meet at the con, noting that these were not just influential people, but that they were the good guys. He was too professional to list out the ones I shouldn’t try to meet, but he said that breed is dying out. There are still some with enough clout to get away with crap, but he said the internet’s changing that, that we’re shining a light on this behavior and not letting them get away with it.

    This post, and all the others like it, are proof of that, I think.

    This won’t last much longer. Thank you for what you’re doing.

  175. I am fuming right now. I don’t write SF but I have read a lot that I love, most of it by women. I am so mad and angry and hurt for you right now! And if I ever saw a male author treating you or anyone else that way I would never by their books again and I would post about their behavior every where I could think of so others would stop buying their books. Maybe that is what we should do, instead of making an all woman’s conference or panel we should go and film them, post them and buy books based off behavior!

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  177. As a women in the Server Admin world, I totally get it. I have to fight daily (not for myself much anymore because 15 years experience sometimes shuts it down before it starts) for the mostly male industry to understand that women are just as capable and deserving. I stayed quiet for years to but everyone reaches their boiling point. Though as a long timer in the field and someone who is now recognized as an expert, I feel the need to do it more for the others coming up behind me. Which is exactly what I see that you are doing. Sometimes we just have to risk it for the good of the industry as a whole.

    I have only ever been to FenCon which seems much more embracing of all Science Fiction writers and lovers. In fact, it seems to be very women friendly. I don’t see the behind the scenes talk but the panels I have attended have all been very balanced. I am sad to see that isn’t the same at other SF/Fantasy cons :( I would be sad to attend one and it be “male” dominated. Even as a fan that would be off-putting.

    Thank you for standing up for your fellow female SF writers which by speaking up is exactly what you are doing. You shouldn’t have to take it. I am just sad that it makes you a target. You are strong though and what you are doing is needed. You keep writing, rocking, and standing up for your fellow writers. Really there needs to be strong writers in every genre (male and female) or the genres get stale. YOU GO GIRL!

    PS. Your books are very much SF!

  178. In the mid-1990s, I paused writing SF after I spoke with a published, female SF author about sexism in the genre, and she denied that it existed. Having her deny the validity of my experience (the same experience as other female SF authors) was deeply disturbing.

    So I moved on to writing crime fiction, where I was first published and won awards, and where the organization Sisters in Crime does battle with sexism for authors of mystery, suspense, and thrillers. Wouldn’t it be great if a similar organization existed to support female SF authors?

    Although I continue to write crime fiction, I’ve also been working on SF again. That’s what brought me here. Your post is unsettling. It should be unsettling. As others have said, WHY is this crap still going on in 2013? More people would be rattled about it if they realized that sexism is restricting the evolution of SF as a genre.

    Rock on, Ann. I’m headed over to Amazon to check out your books.

    • a sheila says:

      Suzanne, I like the idea of an organization to support female SF authors. How about calling it “Sisters in Space and Time”?

      The science fiction on TV and movies for me meant women in futuristic dresses with short skirts and go-go boots (“Forbidden Planet”, “Star Trek” etc.), so I got turned off to the genre early on. I am very sorry to hear that no matter how much time goes by, some things don’t seem to change.

      I have been supporting female authors and filmmakers on Kickstarter, and I saw a book project with the teaser, “A dragon shows up at Ada’s door, starting an adventure of magic and coding. A pre-teen fantasy novel featuring a female programmer.” I made a pledge to the project and will give the book to a young woman to read. I hope the situation will improve by the time she’s my age:

      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1060341604/the-code-witch-a-novel

      Bravo to Ann and everyone else who is speaking up about the boorish behavior.

  179. JC Cassels says:

    After struggling for over a decade to get a toe in the door of mainstream SF, I realized that it is indeed a male-dominated field. I had to endure the same derision you are talking about because my books are character-driven and focus on relationships set against the backdrop of space and adventure.

    I realized early on if someone like HG Wells or Edgar Rice Burroughs had written books like mine, they would have received critical acclaim for exploring the human side of science fiction. That’s why I chose to write under my initials rather than my given name. JC could be male or female… a little trick I picked up from D.C. Fontana.

    As a female fan of science fiction, I found that the women written by the male authors were unrealistic, two-dimensional, and borderline — if not outright — cartoonish. It’s obvious a writer cannot do justice to a subject for which one has nothing but contempt.

    This is the reason I have no interest of membership in the SFWA. It is the original “old boy” network.

    Science fiction is about pushing the boundaries and imagining the future, other worlds and societies. The urge to form pair bonds, the quest for love is universal among humans. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places sex on par with breathing, food and water with love and a sense of belonging coming in just behind safety. Mainstream science fiction that ignores the human need for love and companionship tells only half a story.

    To say that romance and love have no place in serious fiction is to deny a formula that has worked since Homer’s time. The surest way to complicate an issue is to interject an element of love and romance into it. Homer understood this. The Iliad was not only about the Trojan War. It was about Helen ~ The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships ~ and the men who loved her, desired her, and wanted to control her. In the Odyssey, what was Odysseus battling overwhelming odds to return home to? A throne? A kingdom? Responsibility? More likely it was his wife Penelope, a formidable woman who held his kingdom intact, keeping her faith that he would return. Don’t even get me started on Shakespeare and the tales of chivalry! At the heart of the legend of King Arthur is a love story with an unhappy ending.

    The misogynistic old relics of “real” sci-fi are welcome to their anachronistic old-boy society. However, I will warn them that the women of sci-fi are coming. We are writing. We do not require their approval or permission to speak or publish. We do not require their support. Whether they like it or not, the future of science fiction lies in embracing the human condition in all its messiness.

    To the neanderthals who consider females feeble-minded and incapable of comprehending complex concepts of time and space, I say get out of the way. A future without love or sex may be their idea of Utopia, but it is implausible to anyone who understands basic psychology. Women like complex plots, characters and relationships. Male SF writers have for the most part demonstrated their… inadequacies… in that area.

    If women sci fi writers are so inferior, what are the men so darn afraid of?

  180. Jesse says:

    I was linked to this via Twitter from a friend, and I will admit to not being familiar with your work.

    But at the end of the day the fact that your books are selling out means more then the validation of your “peers”. I don’t mean that in that “LOOK AT ME ON THIS FAT STACK OF CASH!” I mean, your books are hitting new readers. Have those authors generated new readership? I doubt it. You have the validation of the readers. Which is worth more then that of the other authors.

    Anyone who creates for public consumption, who alienates other peers, or readers is a fool.

  181. Noel says:

    It is very disheartening to read about your experiences in the SF field. (I read some SF, and your Grimspace is a favorite.) I am completely disgusted by the behavior you have described, and the fact that this behavior appears pervasive and accepted. I agree that these authors should be outed. I do not want to spend a penny or any of my valuable time on their products. Ever.

  182. Larissa Ione says:

    Ann, I am SO sorry this has happened to you. The con crap was bad enough, but to then be harassed with emails that sound like they’re written by a teenager snickering with his friends over a keyboard is appalling. I’ll bet the asshat(s) who wrote those emails intentionally tried to sound stupid in order to disguise their “voices,” but ultimately, the fact that they sent them to you in the first place tells me they have the emotional maturity of a teenager anyway. (Thankfully, my teenager can both write better AND is far more polite and respectful of women.)

    (((Hugs))) I can’t believe that this kind of thinking still exists in our society, and even worse, that it’s so deeply ingrained in the SFF genre — a genre that is so full of forward thinking.

    I’ve been tempted to join SFWA because I’m working on a Star Trek novel, but now I’m reconsidering. I’ve been excited to dip my toe into the SFF con world too, but I think I’ll hold off. What you’ve gone through — and what others have had to deal with, is alarming. I hope the misogynistic asshats are the old guard, and that things will get better as they fade to the nothingness they deserve, but until then, I’m glad there are strong, outspoken women like you to share your experiences and call them out.

    Love ya, girl!

    • Zombie Joe says:

      The same offer I made to Ann applies here (and being in the same state is more likely to happen). If you attend our local scifi con, I will make sure and get your coffee for you. We are the home of WisCon. Half our con committee is also on the WisCon one. We will welcome any and all scifi authors. Even ones new to the genre. ;)

      • Larissa Ione says:

        Thank you SO much for this. And you know what? I think I’ll do it. Sounds like WisCon is the perfect place to dip my toes into the arena. It’s funny, because I’ve attended a gob of romance conventions, and I absolutely love them…so it’s seems so weird to be hesitant to attend conventions that are home to my very first love — science fiction and fantasy. (Okay, yes, I’ve attended a bunch of Star Trek conventions, but I swear, Trek fans are the NICEST people in the world.)

        Anyway, I’ll attend a WisCon. I look forward to finally meeting you!

      • Ann Aguirre says:

        I’m definitely interested in WisCon at some point. Thank you!

  183. Zombie Joe says:

    Oh where to start?

    Unfortunately, I know this is the case at many cons. Even at one of our locals cons, as a “person of privilege” I have found people want to make it more about the good ole days as opposed to content created in the last 5-10 years. The only thing of worth during that time is stuff that was done by people producing since the 70’s. I can’t imagine compacting that with a gender-dismissal as well.

    As a guy who reviews romance sub-genre stories (I stick mainly to thriller/intrigue and paranormal) I have never faced the opposite of this. When people at RT find out I am the one attending and my wife is the companion the general response is “oh, that is awesome.” It is my opinion that I will not sit still for that. And being on the group running the previously mentioned local con, I am working to stamp those issues out if they ever rear their ugly heads. I want to see more of the contemporary scifi and urban fantasy authors feeling welcome at our little con.

    And I will throw this out there right now, in the event we ever have you attending our con, even if I am still serving as con chair… I will totally go get your coffee… and a cupcake. Because that’s how I roll.

    Added on hatemail. Ignore them. Douches exist. They have no place in our fandom. ;)

  184. Like so many of these commenters, I’m completely appalled and not at all surprised. Bravo to you for writing this post, Anna – and most of all, for continuing to write.

  185. SMD says:

    Ms. Aguirre,
    I saw the disgusting emails at the end, and I wish I had the authority to apologize. But I don’t speak for those people, nor for all men, or all people. I can only speak for myself, and I would like to say, as myself, that I am disheartened and sickened by the responses to your post and to you as a professional writer. Under no circumstances should your gender be a factor in determining your value as a writer. Either you are a good writer or you are not. Whether you have man or woman bits is irrelevant. I’ve read extraordinary work from authors of both sexes. The battering behavior lobbed at you for daring to speak your mind should disgust all of us. Sadly, a contingent of sexists still exists in our community, and they have succeeded in making many SF spaces (cons especially) unsafe for women. I think it’s about time we all put our feet down and tell these people to fuck off (if you’ll pardon the vulgarity).

    If at any time you want to be a guest on my podcast (The Skiffy and Fanty Show), you are more than welcome. I sincerely hope you have better experiences in the future, and I also hope that you do not take these emails to heart. They do not represent the heart of this community; rather, they represent the loud cry of death from a side of our community that still longs for the old days.

    All the best,
    Shaun

  186. Les Floyd says:

    Perhaps these ‘men’ – both at the conferences and those whose contact you have posted excerpts from – would find they got along better with women, and had much greater appreciation for them, if they stopped their lonely masturbation sessions and got out now and again… preferably after having washed their hands first?

  187. Ann, you heard me say it all on Twitter yesterday, but I’ll say it here. Goodonya! Don’t beat yourself up for not calling out sexist pigs right up front. First, a lot of us don’t always think of things to say when something like that first hits us. At least I don’t. And sometimes we pick our battles and decide not to respond to negative people. So you spoke up when it felt right to you, and that’s the important thing. Rock on! :)

    Denise A. Agnew
    http://www.deniseagnew.com

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  189. Ann, your Sirantha Jax books totally rock (and since I read an early pre-pubbed version years ago, you know I loved the story then and still love all the books today). Note what Jacqueline Lichtenberg had to say–she’s been fighting this fight longer than we have. Catherine Asaro has come up against the same kind of stuff (and she’s a real PhD and they still diss her…). So you’re in good company.

    I’m saddened by the hate emails you received and I know it’s tough to say “ignore them” but do so. They have no value. Period. And there’s no way to change the minds of the people who wrote them. Period. Except to say it’s a damned shame stupidity ain’t painful…

    Namaste, ~Linnea

  190. heidi Taylor says:

    I’m so disgusted for you, as I read your comments I was right there with you in my mind – feeling all those feelings. I wish I could help, maybe just by encouraging you to stand tall? Keep the faith, they can’t win in the end. I bet some of the men on that panel are writers I admire. I wish I could unlike them :P

  191. Muccamukk says:

    I don’t know if this is heartening or not, but I don’t read a lot of SF (tends to be too many men for me, so I stick to fantasy or SF tv), but I’m totally going to check out Grimspace now. It sounds like the kind of book I would enjoy.

  192. Lauren Dane says:

    I’m sad to say that while I’m appalled and embarrassed for all of humanity that the result of some men feeling weak and pathetic all they have is their tendency to threaten and belittle women to make themselves feel better – I’m not surprised. Because this is what women have to deal with all the time and it’s dumb.

    It’s not only dumb because you are the opposite of a terrible author and also happen to be an amazing person who I adore, but because this “he man woman hater club” serves no end at all but stagnation.

    Women’s voices and stories are not irrelevant. And if these threatened manboys can’t deal with it, they can just not read books featuring female POV and the problem would be solved. But really, the issue is how deeply insecure they are in their masculinity that even a woman on a shelf is a threat to it. Sad

  193. Thank you, Ann, for voicing your defiance of the misogynistic attitudes and actions that still pervade the SF world. The ill treatment you have experienced is emblematic of the prevalent gender-based discrimination found in every aspect of society–a disease that cannot be cured unless each of us who believes in equality speaks up and refuses to be silenced. I applaud and stand with you as well as every woman and man who has left a supportive comment here. Write On!

  194. Has says:

    Ann I am so sorry you had to face this awful hatemail but I am so grateful that you have written strong female heroines and in genre I love. You created universes and worlds which are alive and vivid.

    I am really saddened and disappointed that in this day and age women are still getting flack and being silenced by threats and misogyny will never ever win. I am glad you spoke out because enough is enough. And for a genre that is suppose to encompass themes of exploration, progression and new ideas – close mindedness, bigotry and hate is an anchor which will drag the genre down.

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  196. Andi says:

    I realised I don’t read enough SF by women writers. So I’m printing your list of books to take with me to search out when I go to the biggest bookstore in Europe next week!

  197. Hey Ann! I have to admit that I have yet to pick up one of your books. You have been on my radar though. Don’t take it personally, I have a backlog of review books and my goodreads to-read shelf lists over 2000 books. That’s going to change now, I will be order as many of your books that I possibly can. Because when the men start bitching, it’s time to take notice-something big’s going on and you’re making them uncomfortable. You are changing the game on them, and they know they may not be able to compete in it any longer. I am a black female aspiring science fiction writer. I knew it was going to be difficult (Octavia Butler is my favorite and an example I wouldn’t mind following.) But this, just proves that there’s a need. I have no idea if you are even able to read all of your comments, but I wanted to tell you don’t stay silent. Please don’t, there are so many young writers (females) who want to bend the rules and pave new paths. They need examples, they need faces of people who have done it. I don’t know if you will have any career backlash (obviously idiots have power), and it’s something tough to risk, but if it doesn’t pay off today it will tomorrow. If I get the opportunity to take that risk (since I’m unpublished my voice really isn’t heard) I’ll gladly take it with you.

    • Cheryl says:

      More writers of color! Hooray! And honestly, the idiots don’t actually have power. Read John Scalzi’s response. Understand that there are a number of cons making an effort to come into the 21st Century and promote treating everyone with dignity and respect. Even Worldcon. Speaking out, standing up and being seen and making ourselves heard is the way to create change. And it is happening. Slowly, yes but it is happening!

      Ann, I am definitely going to check out your books! Starr, I’m going to follow your blog so I can know when you are published and I can read your work too.

  198. Robyn Larson says:

    I have been e-reading SF for quite a few years. I do believe you have what it takes to be a fabulous writer. Men are just jealous that women are at best better writers than they are. And several posts have it right. Way more women buy books than men. Hold your head up proud and smile that secret smile when a man says or ignores the fact that we women are a force to be reckoned with. They are just scared little boys.

  199. Those email responses are reprehensible. I’m sorry you have to experience this sort of treatment. It is unacceptable under any circumstances. My gender is clearly the weaker (and, in this case, the worst) of the two.

  200. chaosprime says:

    I’m a straight white male lifelong SF reader. Grimspace sounded a bit interesting to me until I read the misogynist troll emails, then I decided that anything that’s so hated by spiteful idiots must be awesome, and immediately ordered a copy. Great marketing work, misogynist trolls!

  201. Kaelie says:

    It is so disgusting to me that it’s like that for you. Because you’re breaking into a previously male dominated space you’re some sort of object they can haze and threaten. You write better than them, end of story. You bring something new to the table instead of the same old shit the same old white guy tropes that have bogged down SF. The worst part of any job is the coworkers. And you don’t work In the same building as these people, but they are in the same field and are totally ruining it for you, and other women. Their misogyny is evident in their writing most of the time which is awful. Remember your fans love you, but not for your rack :)

  202. Lyn Gala says:

    I am so very sorry that you had such horrible experiences. I wish I could say I was shocked by the thoughtlessness of others, but sadly I am not. I will say that you have handled these things so much better than I would have. I would have likely made a fool out of myself and seriously damaged my writing career, while you come across as calm, collected, and mature.

    I know it’s not much, but I am definitely picking up a couple of your novels. It may not compensate for the pain of dealing with asshats, but unfortunately, there isn’t enough money in the world for that.

  203. Renee says:

    When I read your description of what you include in your books, I thought, “oh, like David Weber but a bit racier.” I’m re-reading the Honor Harrington series right now and one of the things I enjoy about it is the emphasis on the characters, their personal struggles, their interactions and, yes, even their romantic and sexual feelings towards each other.

    I haven’t spend much time in SF fandom, in part because I’m not a fan of large conventions in general, so I don’t know how Weber is viewed by other male authors. Even so, I suspect that he’s not denigrated for including these elements in his books. Is that because he also talks about how many kps his missiles are moving at? Somehow I don’t think so.

    Even though I’ve rarely attended SF cons in the past, I’m now wanting to attend ones that have panels that are mostly made up of men, with just one or two women on them. I want to attend them and shout down the male authors who act like ’50s throwbacks, to let them know that their behavior is not acceptable. I want to write to the con organizers to ask why they tolerate such behaviors in a panelist. And I want to name names — on FB, and wherever else — to let people know what kind of bigotry they’re supporting with their money.

    While I’m there (if not before), I’ll also be buying a couple of your books.

  204. Randi says:

    Class-less. Keep writing! They can eat their words (and yours, if they can work up the guts to actually read your work).

  205. Vivi Anna says:

    Ann, stand tall girl. You are awesome for speaking up. That has been a huge problem for women for years, not feeling like we can stand up and speak out for fear of being bullied and berated. Which you already have.

    It’s fear and ignorance that drives men like those you have encountered to act that way. They are afraid of you. And ignorant to the intelligence and wit and power you bring to your work. Whether its scifi, PNR, UF or YA.

    You have the power now girl. You have taken it back. Hold onto it.

  206. Lizzie B says:

    Like others, this has just prompted me to buy Grimspace. I have in fact suggested that the SFF community buy a copy to show their support and prove that buying power of sensible people outweighs sexism. Because the more we nod sagely and don’t act, the more sexist people are able to continue, unchecked, in their crappy behaviour towards other human beings.

    I have been going to cons for a while now. I am a fantasy and SF reader. I have been on committees. And while there is sexism and I call people out on that, and it’s mostly successful, I have never seen any behaviour like this. And hate mail! Hate mail for saying someone acted appallingly towards you because you happened to have XX chromosomes! Idiots. Although I have a sneaking suspicion it’s the one idiot and he’s emailing you over and over.

    Anyway, I agree about speaking up. If you see any sexist behaviour, any off-colour remark, no matter how small, call people on it. Most of the time I find that they stop, protest for a bit and then go ‘oh, yes, sorry’ . Perhaps it’s because I’m in Britain! We do like to apologise. Fewer all female panels on what it’s like to be a woman in SFF might also change the impression we’re like freaks at the carnival and everyone can have a gawp.

    The other thing I think we need to do is name and shame. If you have recordings of bad behaviour, post them. If you have an anecdote, share it. Because fans don’t want to buy stuff from sexist idiots. We’re becoming more and more aware of feminism as readers and it’s slowly changing – I can see it shift each year. So there is hope. There’s always hope.

  207. Agy Wilson says:

    Ann, as someone who grew up under a sheet with a flashlight reading Andre Norton to save her life, I cannot tell you what it meant to me, to one day find out that Andre was a SHE. Though I write (and illustrate) in another field, that revelation was an empowering thing, an inspiring thing, and sadly a shocking thing. Personally, I prefer a different word for it, not Science Fiction, but SPECULATIVE fiction. First, only SOME of it is is steeped in science, and second, it’s more about the world we find ourselves, whether somewhere, sometime, or as someone else, and that’s more of a speculative thing, and even an art thing to imagine (though I would also posit, so much of our science is driven by our dreams, fictions and speculations).

    I’m so tired of the lie that is told that men don’t “feel”, and in this militarized society it’s even harder to get and receive a truly honest response. Glorifying horror (a feeling), fear (ditto), lust, I suppose you can justify it’s importance over say, trust, curiosity, love because though they are all feelings the first is more of a response, the second more of a build. You know kind of like Venus and Aries.

    Though I’ve not read you work, I now will make it one of my asides for this summer. You are correct, more people need to speak out (not just the women). To that end I’ve shared this blog entry to my Facebook wall. I got it from someone else’s FB wall. I know it’s been shared at least once from my wall.

    On a final note, I don’t necessarily think of science fiction as the future (A Handmaid’s Tale, not sure where it’s set, doesn’t have that “science” feeling to it, but does it have relevance? Oh yes, I think I think it do!) but like any other story genre a great big mighty “What if?” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with escapist, with stress being such a massive killer, and the world with it’s complexities, a bit of escapism can be a real life saver. Speculative fiction has that power to run the gamut from the aforementioned “fluff” to a serious questioning of society and morals, the daily shape of our lives, and yes, absolutely from that, our future. No one ever promised hopeful. It takes people standing up and working toward that end. I think you did that today, and in fact. Brava.

  208. I’m so disgusted by this entire thing. Thank you for standing up and letting us hear your voice.

  209. To the gutless punks who sent the hate mail – grow a pair and come see me. I’d love to discuss this with you over a cuppa tea.

  210. Xopher Halftongue says:

    Thank you for posting this. It’s important. The hell with all those dicks posting the dickish comments.

  211. Charlton Wilbur says:

    It doesn’t take *all of us* standing up and saying “this is not okay.” It takes one of us, at a time, standing up and saying it. And for every door that closes when you say something like that — well, enough cliches. If the door closes, open a window yourself and shove the boor out of it. Or something.

    I hope you keep on going to conventions, and I hope that the next time some boorish dolt treats you as a second-class citizen, you call him on it. Or her. We don’t remember Rosa Parks because she solved the problem of race relations singlehandedly; we remember her because she stood up and said “there is some shit I will not eat,” and because other people said, “you know what? she’s right.”

  212. Tabz says:

    I’m sick with how you were treated, appalled that anyone could treat ANYONE like this, and disgusted that storytellers of SciFi could just go along with it.

    This idea that we can exclude people from anything in the twenty-first century is beyond on me. Thanks for sticking up for yourself, Ann. I hope a bunch more men do the same.

  213. Kristin says:

    Ann, you rock. That is all.

  214. Sarah says:

    Keep writing and standing up to those chauvinist pigs! WTF is wrong with these people?? You opened up SF for me since I was so AVERSE to all the uber technical things in regular old SF. You made SF into a story and about character and watching those character grow and develop. I LOVE books that do that.

    I have a couple of friends who are working on a book now and they want it under the SF label when they publish eventually. They are both women.

    Keep up the fight! You are paving the way for future women SF writers!

  215. David says:

    I first found your books while I worked in a Books-A-Million, and found them wonderful. It’s a shame that there are so many ignorant and insecure men that are willing to make themselves asses in ‘public’ like this. Their age doesn’t matter, they are all scared little boys freaking out because their “He-Man Woman Haters Club” is slowly dwindling.
    Please don’t get too discouraged… the dinosaurs will die out, the frightened little boys may eventually grow up, and the ones that don’t will soon learn that their unfocused outrage is unacceptable any longer. Your work is rock-solid, your characters’ voices are crystal clear, and your universe is vibrant. Eff the H8Rs!

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  217. rantmo says:

    I can’t say that I’d previously heard of your work, but I’ve just purchased Grimspace and put it at the top of my reading queue. As a male fan of fiction, science and otherwise, I’m appalled at the way women are treated both the authors and the fans. The upshot to this grotesque behavior is that it makes me aware of women writers and gives me great motivation to read their work. Anything these horrible wastes of humanity hate, is automatically worth my time, support, and money

  218. DouglasK says:

    Hey, just wanted to give a shout out and say it sucks that people actually think it matters if it’s a man or a woman writing the SF. Some of the best SF I’ve read was written by C.J. Cherryh, Julie Czerneda, and Linda Evans.

    Yesterday, before hearing of this article or the initial dinosaur rampage, I picked up a copy of GrimSpace over on http://www.kobobooks.com … I’m greatly looking forward to the read (once I’m finished the book I’m reading now, the sixth in the Wool series by Hugh Howey).

    Take care, wishing you every success (I reckon that’ll mean more good SF for me to read!),
    Douglas

  219. Maria Lima says:

    >You cannot shut me up. I will NOT SIT DOWN. I will not stand quietly by anymore. I am a woman. I write SF. And it’s not acceptable to treat me as anything less than an equal. I won’t stand for it. And I won’t get your fucking coffee<

    Wonderful post and it's a bloody damn shame that this keeps happening to women everywhere. It sucks beyond the telling of it. :(

  220. I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with something intelligent to say, and I can’t. I’m speechless. Just. Fracking. Speechless. The hate mail? I want to gouge their tongues from their mouths with a spork, and I’m not a naturally violent person. Yet this? This enrages me beyond description. I want to weep for women and still stand up and cheer for you. You write SFF, and you write it *well* — enough so that you’ve clearly chapped some male ass cheeks. To that I say, “GO YOU!” And to those with chapped asses? Get some effing butt paste. Forgo the instructions for the general public and, instead, pack that shit in your ears in the hope it reaches your grey matter. It’s the only chance you’ve got, asshats.

    Keep writing, Ms. Aguirre. Your voice is remarkable and your talent immeasurable. If it threatens a few “penile-purists”? I’ve got an island, and a truckload of butt paste, we can send them to. Just call me.

  221. Mamishka says:

    This is so very sad and I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with that kind of bullshit and from the fallout that this post has inspired. I very much hope that if you count up all the nice comments and the mean comments, that the number of nice comments utterly overwhelms the negative ones. I know how much the horrible ones hurt, how even if they are less in number, they impact twice as hard. But I want to thank you for speaking up. For saying, “Enough is enough.” Even though I’ve never read your work, you have my support simply for standing against the disgusting, egocentric patriarchy of SF. Thank you for writing and thank you for being courageous enough to tell all those assholes to fuck off. <3!

  222. Erica Monroe says:

    Ann, thank you so much for writing this. You are a powerful voice and you deserve to be recognized for that.
    I wish I had some wise words to say on this, other than thank you, but that’s all I can think of. Thank you for speaking out even though people have tried to diminish you. Thank you for not losing your power of speech. Thank you for being brave.

  223. I am a romance author. I am looked down on frequently, and to my face, for writing about relationships (and sex). I guess I’ve figured for a long time it was my just-desserts for not choosing to tackle more difficult subjects. While reading your awe inspiring post, I had an epiphany. In some of my novels, I *do* tackle one of the most daunting subjects on the planet–gay relationships and what it’s like to come out when so few people support who you are.

    What you’re going through is no less difficult than coming out, and how people are treating you amounts to bashing. I am heartbroken and enraged on your behalf. If there were a NoH8 badge for female SFF authors, I’d proudly wear one for you.

    Thank you for your honesty and bravery. Women like you opened up avenues and rights to us that we need to protect now more than ever. If we all link arms in solidarity, they’re going to have a harder time knocking us down.

  224. Avalon says:

    I find this astounding. I have never been much of a SF reader, my preference has always been with fantasy, but the little I have read has been mainly by female authors: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Lois McMaster Bujold, Wen Spencer… I got hooked to most of these through my mother (who is now trying to get me to read Sharon Lee). To be honest, I don’t think I read ANY SF written by men.

    So how can it be that there are so many awesome ladies writing awesome SF books and yet they’re treated like this? I certainly hope whoever these chauvinistic pigs are, they realise that the girls are here to stay, and doing it better than they could ever hope to!

    • ” To be honest, I don’t think I read ANY SF written by men.

      So how can it be that there are so many awesome ladies writing awesome SF books and yet they’re treated like this? I certainly hope whoever these chauvinistic pigs are, they realise that the girls are here to stay, and doing it better than they could ever hope to!”

      Forgive me – is there a contradiction here?

  225. Shame on those small minded people who have treated you the way they have. I’m not sure what’s more shocking… the way you were treated at conventions, or the way people write such despicable words when you come out in your own defense.

    Please note that not all men are like those pigs. Even if you focus more on the people/story than on the technology, it’s still SF if it’s in a SF setting. Hell, look at Star Wars, one of the biggest SF blockbusters around. George Lucas didn’t explain ANYTHING of the science! The fact that you’re treated differently because of your gender is awful.

    It reminds me of female colleagues at a scientific convention I recently attended complaining how so many male engineers in attendance had absolutely no idea how to approach a woman in the sciences. It’s sad that their own social awkwardness leads to such hateful words and actions.

  226. Steve Hall says:

    As an Old White Dude (almost 61), and a WASP to boot, I just want to go on record as saying how disgusted, disappointed, and ashamed I am of the shit you’ve had to endure, Ann. There is no excuse, and no place for it, in our society at large, nor in the SFF community. And anyone trying to pull the “well, he was drunk” card is every bit the asshole, too. Count me as a brand-new fan.

  227. Kim says:

    Wow. It saddens me to hear how you’ve been treated.

    I LOVE your Grimspace books; the world you created is an infinitely refreshing alternative to sterile, asexual sci-fi. Grimspace strikes that lovely high/low-brow balance that Joss Whedon’s storytelling so deftly handles. There’s commercial and critical appeal, which is tremendously difficult to achieve.

    The haters feel threatened: you’re doing something different, and they can’t sit back and put you in a neat little “romance” or “science fiction” box, and ignore you. KEEP IT UP! Keep challenging! Your fans will be here to support you.

  228. Kathy Boswell says:

    Ann,

    Having read all of your so called “dreck” books and reviewed a few of them, I can’t tell you how much I look forward to each and every book you publish! Count me in as a fan of your kind of ‘trash’ any day of the week!

  229. D L Jackson says:

    Twenty three years ago I was called into my First Sgt’s office. I had the points, I’d been to school. I worked twice as hard to get a recommendation to the NCO board to get my stripes as the other males that were up for SGT. I was one of three women place down in the Division Artillery to see how we would do in a male world. Not fun being an experiment.

    The MSG who was the senior NCO in my department refused to give me a recommendation. At first it was “she can’t make the runs.” 10 miles at a man’s pace is a challenge for any woman. So I ran before PT in the morning and after–with hand weights, until I could make every single run. Then it was she didn’t go to such and such a school, which he made nearly impossible for me to go to. I fought for my place. Everything he said I didn’t do, I didn’t just overcome, I went out and hurtled the obstacle, until that fateful day when my First Sgt. called me into his office and told me to sit down. He told me he asked the MSG to write down his objection to why I shouldn’t be promoted. He pulled out a letter, written by the man who didn’t feel a woman belonged down in the 10th Mountain Division Artillery–or in the Army. On that letter was his statement, “Specialist Moery should not be promoted because she looks too cute in a pair of jeans.” I looked him in the eyes and said, “well, what are you going to do about that?”
    “This is bullshit,” he said. “My females soldiers are some of my best soldiers.” I went to the board, and I was promoted. The MSG who held me back for over a year, well he was reassigned.

    It’s not fair dealing with people like this, actually, it sucks, but when the dust settles and the picture becomes clearer, you will see not all those out there are your enemies, and I want you to know there are more out there that are with you, than against you. I am glad for those who see past these sexist tactics by these male authors who feel the need to belittle female authors who write in their genre. You did not deserve what they did, and trust me, there are people out there that see what they are doing and are taking notice.

    Anyone that knows me, knows I was damn good at what I did, and the fact I had breasts, shouldn’t have made a difference, but it did to one person who had the power to make my life miserable. In the end he only had the power for a little while. Soon, those that had watched from the sidelines stepped forward, and made a wrong, right. Don’t give up. Don’t back off. Soon they won’t have the power anymore.

    You’re a great SF author, Ann. Own it, and don’t let them make you feel any less than you are. Women are capable of doing great things, it’s when people feel threatened they go on the attack, or become abusive as these authors did. I will not stop writing Sci Fi Rom because a few males think women don’t have a place in it, or that science fiction can not have romance. Perhaps because you spoke up, more women will find the courage to fight for their place in Science Fiction, and know it is okay to include love stories with their ‘nuts and bolts’.

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  231. Mike Scott says:

    It is beyond pathetic and disappointing that this kind of behaviour is still tolerated. What will it take? Men who think and act like this are in dire need of a few lessons – humility, for one thing, but also basic courtesy and respect.
    As for those sickening emails – what kind of sad little shit talks like that to another human being? What insanity makes people think that behaviour is even remotely acceptable? Certainly nobody worth listening to. The real filth here is what’s coming out of the mouths and keyboards of such men. The fact that they lack the self-awareness to realize how vile and harmful their opinions are is probably the saddest part of all.
    Ann – I’m so sorry that you’ve had to endure this bullshit, and will no doubt have to endure more. Thank you for speaking up, and for refusing to quietly accept this bullshit. I’m more involved in sci fi video games than sci fi literature, but I had no idea the misogyny and sexist attitudes were as bad here as they are there. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been surprised.
    I hope to be a sci fi writer myself some day, and this post was an excellent reminder that I will need to regulate my own behaviour as well, to ensure I don’t consciously or unconsciously support the kind of exclusion you’ve faced.
    Finally, I haven’t heard of your books before I came across this post, but I plan to check them out.

  232. Ann, I had tears in my eyes after reading this blog post. There was nothing cerebral about the behaviour of the rude male authors; more like they showed base male instinct with a total lack of self-honesty and accountability. The poor wife of that author, having to try to redirect away from her husband’s personal ugliness but failing to hide it. Since when is it right for any human being to be rude to another human being at a social function meant to please fans? The rude authors truly have lost perspective.

  233. Mickey Blake says:

    Have just added the first books of many of your different series to my Amazon shopping cart as a fuck-you to the sexists pigs.

    Seconding the call to name names: anonymity protects these shitstains as surely as silence. I would welcome the opportunity to remove their volumes from my overflowing bookshelves to make space for quality folk. Which reminds me, I need to make sure I weed out the volumes of H.E. who shall not be named, since I’m still pissed about how he treated Connie Willis.

  234. L.T. Getty says:

    Hey – we were on the Steampunk, Dieselpunk, & Cyberpunk panel on Keycon. First, I’m glad you didn’t have those issues at Keycon – I haven’t been to many conventions (just Keycon, really) but I’m happy it didn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.

    Second, I’m sorry you feel this way – I thought this battle was already fought and won years ago. I mean, I read Tamora Pierce when I was in gradeschool and I’m currently sharing the joys of Octavia E. Butler every time I get asked what books I’ve enjoyed lately. I can’t say I’ve experienced what you have, but I’m new to this game and I heartily encourage you to speak out for those who are too scared to talk. Works should be judged on their own personal merit (or in comparison to the author’s other body of work) and no one should be made to feel small or dismissed because of their gender.

  235. StaceyHH says:

    Ann, as an avid reader of SFF, and a fan of the community, I’ve watched these things happen for years. I’ve also watched men and women in the community (including myself) become increasingly vocal about changing the way things have always been, and I’m proud of all of us who are trying to do something about it.

    I know how difficult it is to put yourself out there and paint that bullseye on your “lady parts.” So thank you for doing it, and I’d like to add my voice to all the commenters here who are saying: “I support this.”

  236. Marilyn C. says:

    WOW. I cannot believe men are still saying that today. I mean, obviously things aren’t going to change overnight, but it’s not overnight. It’s been decades, centuries, millenia. I’m sorry you’ve had to (and are still going through) this madness.

    Anyway, I can’t really say “don’t let it get you down”, because that’s pretty impossible. Just know that for every narrow-minded jerkass, there are many more people who respect you and your work. I haven’t read your stuff yet just because there’s so much out there, but that’s going to change pronto.

    Thank you so much for standing up to the wrongs done against you and other women in the field. I know it’s tough, but things are changing, and you’re helping a lot.

  237. J-me says:

    Science fiction, as a genre, is the most noticeably dated genre out there. Think about the genre classics and they haven’t survived because the science/technology behind them was ‘ahead of its time’ but because they are great stories that appeal to the casual reader as well as die-hard fan despite the cringe-worthy 1950’s or 70’s aesthetics.

    Yes, you are a scifi and paranormal and romance author but I think my favorite description of you as a writer is ‘a good storyteller.’ As time passes, that’s the most important thing to keep in mind.

  238. James Hinman says:

    I am always so sad and angry to see someone ridiculed because of race, gender, religious beliefs or sexual preference. I for one thoroughly enjoy the literary works of many women. Some are the best in their genre. To be verbally attacked and called the names I have seen in this blog is appalling and for what? Anyway, I have your back even though I don’t know you. Keep on battling for the right to be heard without the ridicule and rancer of a few narrow minded people.

  239. Ursula Renee says:

    I cannot believe in this day and age people still act like this. Your experience has turned my stomach and brought tears to my eyes.

    Please do not let those jerks discourage.

  240. Steve Cordle says:

    I’m sorry that all of that happened to you. There’s no excuse for it. I am going start reading your books right away.

  241. Anna says:

    I have not attended any big SF conferences because I didn’t think I would fit in. I have attended one in Phoenix. Men and women authors/fans seemed well-represented. While everyone I met were very nice, I noticed Sci-fi people are a little different.

    Perhaps more female fans should attend these functions. Fiction writing does not fit neatly into sub-genres anymore, which is a good thing, I think. There’s more creativity. It invites a new readers. I love sci-fi romance, erotica, and urban fantasy. The old standard never appealed. I once looked for your books at a small local bookstore. There was only one female writer in the three sci-fi bookcases and she wasn’t even sci-fi!

    Attending the San Diego Con would be fun. After reading your post I should make it a priority to attend. If I had a time machine I would love to tell the male speaker to ‘shut up’ and let you speak. Tell the ‘sloppy drunk’ to sober up and stop acting like a jerk. Tell the intellectual snobs…well, probably nothing, because it would be a waste of time.

    I think the book industry is changing. People are going to have to get used to it or become relics. I wish you the best of luck and congratulate you on your success. I hope to meet you someday and be a supportive fan, especially at a conference!

  242. TM Thomas says:

    I’m late to the party, as always.
    First, Ann–we met, briefly at an RT convention some time ago (don’t worry, I’m not going to make you pretend to recall) and I picked up Grimspace on the recommendation of Mark Henry. I found you to be a professional and personable author.
    Second…I’m offended by the emails you received to the point of rage. I thought the original comments had offended me to that point, until I read the update. Then…I think my brain broke. I can’t understand what makes people think such things border on anything involving reality.

    You write books I’ve enjoyed reading. That’s what matters the most, and why I’ll keep buying.

  243. Soon Lee says:

    I’m sorry that you have been subjected to this disgraceful abuse.

    I have just ordered a copy of “Grimspace” as a gesture of support, and help usher the dinosaurs to extinction.

  244. cscusack says:

    We need to get this printed on mugs and the like:

    “You cannot shut me up. I will NOT SIT DOWN. I will not stand quietly by anymore. I am a woman. I write SF. And it’s not acceptable to treat me as anything less than an equal. I won’t stand for it. And I won’t get your fucking coffee.”

    While I’m not surprised, I’m pissed for you. It’s, as one poster said, ‘unbelievable’ that this would happen now. Surely, this should be the genre in which we embrace change and empowerment of those that didn’t have it before?

    As for those that say Sci-fi can’t have any sex…I’m sorry Filth…show me on this space map where the bad man sucked out your brain. For those that need a refresher on the ELEMENTS OF SCI FI:

    “The settings for science fiction are often contrary to consensus reality, but most science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief, which is facilitated in the reader’s mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements. Science fiction elements include:

    A time setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record.
    A spatial setting or scenes in outer space (e.g. spaceflight), on other worlds, or on subterranean earth.[3]
    Characters that include aliens, mutants, androids, or humanoid robots.
    Futuristic technology such as ray guns, teleportation machines, and humanoid computers.[4]
    Scientific principles that are new or that contradict accepted laws of nature, for example time travel, wormholes, or faster-than-light travel or communication.
    New and different political or social systems, e.g. dystopian, post-scarcity, or post-apocalyptic.[5]
    Paranormal abilities such as mind control, telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation.
    Other universes or dimensions and travel between them. ”

    -Wiki

    I believe Grimspace and the Jax series hit most if not all of those points. SO….yeah.

    Keep on doing what you’re doing Ann. I love the Jax series and if that makes me wrong then I don’t want to be right.

  245. Ann,

    So sorry to hear that you were treated this way. Sadly, it’s not uncommon. It’s one of the reasons Broad Universe was founded back in 2001 to support women writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror. http://broaduniverse.org/

    Meanwhile, I’m off to check out your books. I also wish to add to the recommendations for WisCon (where Broad Universe began) and FenCon.

  246. Tim J. says:

    Your post was retweeted to me….all I can say is I’m surprised saddened and sickened. I don’t read much science fiction anymore because of this kind of outrageous slant to it. In fact, I’m more interested in speculative fiction book/story when it has a female author. Fantasy frequently, good fantasy anyway, points to an improved/improving society, and equality on all fronts should be part of that. After reading your post, you’ve actually encouraged me to seek out your books. I wouldn’t even put the replies you’ve in received in dialogue of my vilest characters. (I’m a budding spec fic writer, by way of explaining.) I wouldn’t believe language like that in a fictional world, never mind the real one. .

  247. Adding Grimspace to my Amazon queue.

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  249. Genre definitions are often nebulous, even specious, and so any kind of dogmatism in literature is extremely suspect. Must SF necessarily be about “important issues,” or are writers free to breathe life into whatever story moves them? By affirming that SF should be articulated around sociological speculation (which, for some mysterious reason, does not extend to feminine concerns) the critics are unwittingly displaying the extent of their sexism, essentially stating that women’s stories are not relevant. Such biases are embarrassing.

    Regardless of debate over what qualifies as SF, the personal attacks quoted above are utterly unacceptable. I am deeply ashamed of the similarity between my allosomes and those of the trolls who authored these hurtful comments. Were it in my power to apologise on the behalf of my whole gender, I would.

  250. Marilynn says:

    Hang in there. It’s a long road, and we can’t see the end of it, but as a friend of mine says when I’m whining about the progress – or lack of- of my book, Failure is not an option.

  251. P. Kirby says:

    Well, one upside to this is that I’m finding all manner of wonderful, new-to-me, SF writers. Just downloaded Grimspace at a price point that is way beyond what I’d usually pay for an ebook, but f*ck it. I need to support more women SF writers.

  252. Jackie Horne says:

    Ann:

    Thanks for taking a feminist stance by publicizing your experiences with sexism in the SF community. As a reviewer, I’m taking a vow, to spend more time on women-authored SF/romance books in future.

    Off to pick up a copy of GRIMSPACE at my local library…

    — Jackie Horne

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  254. I am shocked, horrified, and surprised that these dinosaurs still exist in the 21st century. The post made me thank my lucky stars that I’m a mystery writer, part of a diverse and generous community where writers pretty much behave like grownups. It’s especially shocking since two of the best SF&F novelists writing today are Lois McMaster Bujold and Sharon Shinn. They have women and feelings in their work too.

  255. Philip says:

    A good thing to come out of this: I am bound and determined to purchase and read your book. Not because I wish to spite all of the hate mongers. If so many people are trying to bad mouth you and shut you up then you obviously have something challenging and new to say!

  256. Alexis says:

    By chance, came across this today: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/foz-meadows/romance-cooties-women-sf_b_3375184.html

    Whiners are almost always second-raters — at best! Some of the best-ever SF novels have been written by women, like Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. I wonder what the whiners think of James Tiptree, Jr. — real name: Alice Bradley Shelton.

    Hang in there and keep doing what you’re doing. The whiners are whiners because deep down, they’re just not very good — and they probably know it, but are too cowardly to articulate or admit it. And this is true not just of SF.

    And treat the whiners with the disdain and contempt they deserve.

  257. Rachel Kingsmill says:

    “that I don’t actually write SF because it has women, sex, and feelings in it.”
    Robert Heinlein’s books are rife with women, sex and feelings. What books are these yahoos referring to?

    I’m not familiar with your books. My brother posted this on his Facebook. I work in a male dominated field (construction management/engineering) and I am frequently made to feel like I’m not part of the team because of my gender. I am lucky enough to have not had to deal with the level of sexism/elitism you have. There are always going to be jerks. I hope it doesn’t stop you from doing what makes you happy.

    Now I’m going to have to check out some of your books!

  258. Susan says:

    I haven’t read you books but just reserved them at the library. Thanks for speaking up. Your anecdotes are a perfect of example of why we still need feminism. Keep speaking out-silence is acquiescence!

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  260. Beth J says:

    I’m more of a fantasy reader than a Sci-Fi reader mostly because a lot of writers (predominantly male) do not write characters that interest me. That being said – I am always looking for new authors to read, so I have purchased _Grimspace_ and look forward to reading it. Thank you for standing up for yourself and other women. (As a scientist, I have total empathy for what you go through.)

    • Bookwench says:

      This might sound funny, but try Asimov’s David Starr, Space ranger series. Yes, written for kids. Yes, written about a guy. Yes, dated. But – cute and funny and fast to read, and I liked the character back when I was in high school. (Caveat, I also liked the dragonlance books back then, and on re-reading them as an adult found they were *horrid*.)

      Also, try Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. She’s brilliant.

  261. Randie says:

    Gah, I hate assholes. I found out about this through another author I really like. Well let me tell you, I’m a new fan. I had to go get the book just to see what the hubbub was about. I loved it. It’s aweful that all this happend to you but I have to say, you’ve obviously got fans, so I think that only proves that what all those good ‘ol boys are saying just isn’t true. Screw them! If your fans think your awesome, and you think your awesome, does it really matter what they think?

  262. Rose Fox says:

    Ugh, this is all terrible. I’m so sorry you’ve had such a bad experience with SF conventions in particular–when they’re good they’re very very good, but when they’re bad they are HORRID. It’s awesome that you’re willing to keep writing despite all these asshats. Three cheers for SF with women and sex, says I!

  263. Rhonda says:

    Ann, I’ve been reading science fiction for over 50 years, and grew up on Andre Norton. So many great women authors–Le Guin, Butler, McCaffrey, Bujold, Cherryh, Willis, Moon, DWJones, Sharon Lee, Diane Duane, Tepper and Shinn, yes, Jacqueline Lichtenberg is there too, Bradley, Kage Baker, Elgin, Czernada, Goonan, Gotlieb, Lee Killough, Ann Maxwell (who could have been one of your inspirations–have you read her?), Vonda McIntyre, Melissa Scott, Sidney Van Scyoc, Amy Thomson, Marta Randall, Karen Traviss, Joan Vinge–I have 120 books by Andre Norton in my personal library! Plus stuff from all of the above. When I read Grimspace, I wasn’t blown away, but I didn’t ascribe it to your being a woman, but to it being a first novel, with some world-building weaknesses. I thought Wanderlust was stronger, and think that you are continuing to grow as an author. You, as so many above point out, are doing something RIGHT or you wouldn’t have so many fans. I am filled with admiration for you as a person for taking a stance here. I agree with all those above who say this is insupportable, unconscionable, intolerable. Best wishes.

  264. I remember as a reader (before becoming a writer) that there was precious little romance/relationships in any fantasy or SF. I remember thinking that a fair amount of it felt cold, as if all relationships were to be sterile. Then I read Anne McCaffrey and whoa! There were people who felt deeply. And I read “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” and it was about how women were tainting space travel with their girl cooties.

    When I started writing, I noticed how dismissed women writers were, especially works with romance and relationships. But I wanted to read about those. I wanted those dense reads that were fully about people. I have never understood why so many SF writers are dismissive of those works, as well as UF when it’s written by women.

    But your hatemail. That is utterly appalling. Even if you did write drek, which you don’t, what in the fuck is going on with those people who think they should write such hateful putrid crap to anybody? This is just flat wrong. Bullies and cruel shitheads.

    • Bookwench says:

      Just want to somehow acknowledge that there’s like 10 famous writers commenting in here… You, Elizabeth Moon – tons of major writers. It’s pretty amazing and makes me feel all warm about our genre, even with the subject matter being what it is.

  265. Patlie says:

    Best revenge keep showing up on the panels and correct them when they are wrong. Be brave be courageous pave the way for the future writers who will come behind you.

  266. Vee says:

    Life is a learning process yet these old men seem to have forgotten and instead of enjoying new concepts, new ideas, wage a time-worn propaganda.

    My response to the three:

    Dirty Old Men

    Silk skin of youth tempts camera lens trembling in hands of wrinkled men primped in peacock fashion trends as they sit, a gaggle of insatiable friends, with a sly rocking motion of shrinking pens to produce stiffer nether regions, fantasying they are Barbie’s Ken.

    I really would consider offering them the role of Ken but you know, they simply lack the grace, wit and stamina of the old boy.

  267. David Brin says:

    I am honored that this old fart was of any use at all to such a fine, bright and creative young colleague. Stay confident, bold and the explorer that you are. — David B

  268. Juliette says:

    What idiots thoes people were. I personally love SF with female leads, sex and ass kicking! I saw this post through Yasmine Galenorn’s twitter page. I haven’t read any of your books but now I am planning on it!

  269. Luke Walker says:

    Not sure if anyone will read this far down, but either way, I’d like to say that while there are, very sadly, plenty of men who think women can’t write SF (or can’t write at all for that matter) and are as hideously offensive as the people you quote in those emails, there are men who aren’t warped and twisted little boys stuck in adult bodies. As a man, they embarrass me beyond belief. As a fellow writer, they make me furious. All I can do is apologise for them and hope they don’t stop anyone writing or reading whatever they like.

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  271. DeAnn says:

    Dear Ann,
    I am so very sorry that this total BS has been polluting your life as a woman and a fine writer of SF.
    These trolls are just insecure and no-talent hacks who can’t deal with the idea that women are not only equal to men, we’re better than men, in so many ways.
    As a journalist, I’ve seen a lot of prejudice toward women (especially larger women, like myself) in the newsroom and when editors are hiring reporters. If it’s a male editor, often once they get a good look at you, they refuse to hire you, or, if they come on to you and you don’t respond, you get shown the door. It is always ‘assumed’ that women can’t do ‘hard news’ stories because we can only write about cooking and cleaning and ‘lifestyle’ topics, which is, again, total BS. In fact, I only became a journalist by default, because I was told by the dean of the Boston School of Fine Arts graduate theater program that they don’t “accept females into the program because girls don’t make good stage directors.” I was so crushed that I ended up in a graduate writing program that I knew would accept women because the college had been an all-women’s college back in the day.
    So I can understand your disgust and horror at being treated so poorly by men at the Cons. You deserve better, and I sincerely hope that things get better now that more women, like yourself, are speaking up and aren’t taking this sexist crap anymore. Go Ann! BTW, I just read and LOVED your Steampunk novel.
    Yours in solidarity,
    DeAnn

  272. Dave Sloss says:

    Hi,

    I just wanted to leave a comment. I have been a reader of all kinds of “SF” for 30 years. I enjoy ALL kinds. I started reading your work with Grimspace. I have yet to be sorry I bought it and every succeeding novel in the series. The writing style was a bit different than the ‘hard liners”, but I enjoyed them very much. Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior about yourself or your work. You write very well, and I know I never once said “gee whiz, she writes well…for a woman.” Keep at it and show those idiots you are the better author and person. Seems obvious to me.

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  274. Justina Robson says:

    Hi Ann

    First of all let me say I really enjoyed Grimspace and I’m not surprised you can sell out your titles. I very much like your writing style and choices – they’re enormously entertaining. SF can be all kinds of everything and seeing it written with romantic gusto is a hugely welcome path down which my Kindle has shot like a bullet. In fact I’m absolutely in with the romance, erotica and adventure club. Yay for the warm, loving, dancing energy of human and extraterrestrial life!

    Just because you don’t have the same style approach as a Heinlein or a Tiptree or (let’s quote someone younger) a Mieville doesn’t make your ideas and points less interesting or thoughtful or SF. It makes SF richer and more appealing as a whole. People who dislike certain modes of fiction or parts of the human experience are not obliged to ingest them. Asimov I could only take as a presentation or a synopsis myself – the texts themselves put me in a coma – but I still can enjoy his thoughts in that other form, if not the actual books, for example.

    However, a lot of the tension in this specific situation within SFWA and the greater chattering world of SF, and the situation in which you find yourself a point of debate, is nothing to do with ideas or writing, it seems another eruption of a larger cultural crisis point in which the status overthrow of ‘entitled’ (white) males comes into the spotlight again and prods some of them into this truly appalling quasi defense. The really hilarious bit is in the claims that gender and sex preferences have anything to do with intellectual or literary quality or the ability to process information and ideas. Guys, you flip the Bozo bit with that one.

    Your experiences sadly did not surprise me, although they did appall me. Nobody has treated me that way, I’m not sure why, maybe I’m not American and didn’t go to the ‘right’ places, although I remember once being pretty patronised by a couple of old American guys who were big names on the scene. I was always good at playing the ‘nice girl’ game in the past, and that did make me a bit toothless on occasions where butts needed kicking, which I regret.

    People always asked about the SF and female thing, as if I was a dog that could walk on its hind legs and talk Spanish. I should have trod on that. If anything I am the one who has taken me less seriously, criticised me harshly and wondered about the status of myself as writer versus my ‘obvious’ straight white female category and what that all might mean. It’s very hard to say whether what I thought at the time was part of the cultural baggage I inherited or my own terror of high visibility. Now I look at the sexist remarks made within their contexts in the Resnick/Malzberg fiasco and wonder how people say such things with that enormous lack of awareness about the climate and people they’re saying it to. Surely they must have expected that backlash and perhaps are enjoying the notoriety though their whinge afterwards suggests not.

    As for the comments posted anonymously that are so vile – writing or saying such things in any forum is like walking around with a huge placard saying ‘I’m a weak and pathetic nobody, see my impotent narcissism and cry with laughter’ on it. Regardless of the actual words used that is all such remarks say and I hope you are able to discard them as such. We may not know their identities, but they sure do and they have to live with that every single day. Whereas you are a great success with many friends and fans.

  275. Is this just about SFR, or is it part of the much-publicized War on Women? I haven’t been to that many cons in recent years, but at those I have attended I’ve never seen writers like Nancy Kress and Catherine Asaro treated the way you’ve been — not even allowed to get a word in edgewise. Asaro doesn’t mention any such thing in Facebook posts about Balticon, let alone getting obscene e-mails. Maybe it has to do with the KIND of cons. I’ve never been to Comic Con because (a) it’s clear across the country from me, (b) it’s mostly about comics rather than sf, and comics are much more of a male preserve than sf, and (c) it’s just too damn huge. There was a scandal last year at Readercon, involving a Big Name Fan who sexually harassed a woman fan. Because he was a BNF, he got a slap on the wrist at first, but there ensued such an uproar that the con board changed its mind and banned him for life, then resigned. Still, that was one guy. One thing I have noticed at Lunacon in my area: panels hardly ever stick to their announced topics, but I’ve never seen male panelists ganging up on women.

    • StaceyHH says:

      Classic example of “I haven’t seen it, so it doesn’t exist.”

    • Michele Lee says:

      Having met Nancy and seen the beauty of her calling “The Old Guard” out on BS d a WFC panel I’d like to throw in that she doesn’t let anyone get away with treating her or her opinion as lesser. I’m sure it took an occurrence or two for people to realize she wasn’t going to put up with that behavior and they had better be prepared to look like asshats if they try it. Bravo, Ann for stepping up as well. I hope to be just like you when I grow up. :)

    • Bookwench says:

      I think perhaps this is one of those things that’s more obvious to the people being frustrated than to the people not being frustrated. If it’s not impacting you, and you’re not looking for it, you’re probably not going to be aware it’s going on. This isn’t a slam on you – it’s just, conventions are busy places, and you may have been focused on other things.

      Next time you go to a convention, if you’re interested, maybe be more aware of what’s going on around you with groups you’re not really a part of, and see what you see. Also, check out who raises their hand in Q&A time and who gets picked to talk from the audience, especially in “hard” science and military panels.

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  277. I’m an author who has just released my debut novel. It is sci-fi. I am a woman. I must read a really insular lifestyle because it boggles my mind that in this day and age such sexism still exists, even in such a specialized context. But these chauvinists have done you a favor in their maltreatment of you – they are making you and your books known to people like me who may not have heard of them. I now want to read them. :)

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  279. J. Plotnikoff says:

    Thank you for sharing – no doubt it was difficult to do and the following nastiness must just make it harder still, although the supporting voices hopefully help!

    Reading about your experiences helped gel something for me: I commit to not staying quiet when I see/hear things like this taking place around me (cons or not).

  280. Maryanne Birch says:

    Ann I love your work. Years ago I was attending a con and something like this happened I attended a panel because two writers I loved were on it. Two male authors took over and did not let the women talk. When questions started I stood up to ask my question. I mentioned one of the women authors by name when one of the men tried to answer I looked at him and said “did I ask you the question no I did not. So please let the person asked answer. ” I went on asked my question and got it answered. Then the next person another women did the same. It got so bad that a male in the audience stood up and said to the moderator. Please do your job and make the men sit down till they are addressed by name we heared all they had to say already. 20 people got to ask questions and only 2 or 3 were asked by the men. Now I will say that the man was width me but sitting a few seets away and he knew how mad I was. But the moderator was red in the face and the male authors were pisses but both women were smiling. I hate to be disregarded and would not let a man do it. So keep on keeping on.

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  282. Amara says:

    Also agree….start naming names. These guys are like cockroaches; there is nothing that makes them stop like the harsh light of sunshine. At the bare minimum, it allows folks like me to know where to spend my hard-earned cash.

    For the record, I enjoyed your Grimspace novels. I recently picked up Enclave and loved it! But the point really isn’t about whether I (or anyone else) likes your books. The point is really about professional respect and behavior. I have a hard time getting into the “Culture” novels but I would never denigrate the author or use expletives to criticize the book. The use of sexist and violent imagery needs to be stopped regardless of the target. I hope SFWA speaks out about that as well.

  283. Tia Nadiezja says:

    I haven’t read your book, and, from the synopses I’ve seen, I likely wouldn’t enjoy it. Just not my cup of tea. But I don’t get to decide what other people’s sci-fi is, and other people don’t get to decide what my sci-fi is. Obviously, your work is bringing people joy.

    There is no excuse for treating you as anything but what you are – a professional writer, and, in the case of the conventions, an invited guest of the event. Anything else is demeaning, unacceptable, and wrong, and those who behave that way ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  284. Amy J. Hawthorn says:

    Wow. Thank you. Ann, you kick ass.

  285. Bruce Scholten says:

    Dear Anne, Sorry to hear of your encounters with dinosaurs. I was inspired by Robert A. Heinlein, and loved Ursula K. Le Guin when she came along. The multiverse is big enough for them & Grimspace too. Good luck with your writing – Bruce Scholten

  286. Yves Fey says:

    I stumbled across this posting in a talk at Sisters In Crime. Absolutely, utterly appalled! Go woman! Give ‘em hell.

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  288. Erik Scott de Bie says:

    That really sucks, Ann. I want to hear what you have to say. Keep saying it. :)

    Cheers,
    Erik

  289. DebPen says:

    Wow. Although not completely surprised that there are men out there willing to use such words included in the email responses you received, I’m still stunned when reading them. Well eff them. Honestly as an older female with a grand going to college next year who has been reading SF since grade school I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this crap.

    My father was a huge SF fan and he always read books, written, by a male or female, who wrote strong female characters. He refused to support the theory that female writers were somehow “less” because of their gender. He was a big burley longshoreman by the way, a man who would hold the door for women, and help my mom out of the car etc.. He the reason I started reading SF to begin with.

    I can say that if I read a book and the author clearly has little or no respect for women I do not buy their books again. It is that simple for me. Hopefully for other consumers as well. :)

  290. It’s so sad this sort of crap is still going on. I’ve seen it so much at conventions in general…but to be a speaker on a panel and treated like this?

    Total bullshit.

    You are not alone. Thanks for speaking out.

  291. J.L. Hilton says:

    Another female SF author here, who’s blogging about this topic since my debut novel came out in January 2012, and (soon to be former) SFWA member. Just wanted to say, “Yes, yes, absolutely, yes.” Thanks for writing this.

  292. Kareema says:

    Aside from being appalled by your treatment by your fellow writers, I also have to say that I always knew Brin was cool!

  293. Martin Frowd says:

    Ann,
    Firstly, my apologies that I hadn’t heard of you sooner. Here in the UK, discovering new SFF authors can be somewhat hit and miss. I found out about this blog today from my all-time favourite author Lilith Saintcrow’s Twitter feed. Finding this article, I see another two of my favourite authors – Jaye Wells and Nancy A Collins – have posted here.

    I’m appalled, disgusted and horrified that in the 21st century, people still think it’s somehow OK to behave like the idiots who harassed and belittled you. If they’re writers, I suspect they’re scared of competition from fresher, newer voices with stories to tell. If they’re readers, then they basically need to grow up. Either way, they’re a disgrace to our – yes OUR – genre and to my gender. (Yes, I’m a male reader who happens to enjoy SFF with strong characters who have emotions, quality world building and proper plots. Honestly I couldn’t care less what gender the writer is as long as the story has those elements, but looking at my library, more of my favourite authors are female than male). Thank you for speaking out and not letting the idiots think this behaviour is acceptable. Keep it up, and keep writing!

    I’m off to Amazon now to download Grimspace.

  294. Greg Leon Guerrero says:

    Ann,
    So sorry that you’ve received such undeserved vileness. Nobody deserves that sort of response. Nobody. I’m in my mid-50’s, a child of science fiction of the 60s and 70s and this sort of behavior is baffling to me. We’re talking about a community that largely looks to the future with hope and possibilities. We’re a community that embraces change as a theme. We aren’t afraid to experiment, to image (if not embrace) other perspectives, to ponder the ‘impossible.’

    When I read and hear about this sort of attitude from others in the community, one has to wonder. Why does science fiction matter to them? Are they confusing science fiction with something else? Are they thinking this through? Are they thinking at all? Anyone that would feel fine spewing that rubbish is obviously only worth the amount of time it takes to press the delete button.

  295. I’m sorry for how you have been treated. I love your books.

    If you return to SDCC or attend any convention I am at, I will be sure to go all fan girl on you, I’ll even get you coffee, or cookies or a cocktail ;)

    I wish it was as easy as saying “screw them!” But if high school taught us anything it’s that sometimes that crap hurts.

  296. sf95070 says:

    I strongly disagree with you on one point. This isn’t about women not tolerating this behavior. It is about all of us making it clear that we won’t tolerate bullying or disrespecting anyone. I’m not sure whether your bad experience on the panel is really as much about sexism as it might be about old fart authors with gigantic egos, but either way, you have a right to the respect any author should accord to another.

    I attend a number of cons as both a presenter and an audience member and I make it my business to say something when I see the behavior you describe. We all need to make it clear that this isn’t acceptable.

    • Bookwench says:

      Excellent point – it’s not jsut about this behaviour being objectionable to women. It should be objectionable to everyone regardless of gender. :)

  297. David Medinnus says:

    I find their treatment of you deplorable (and therefore, I deplore it!). On the other hand, I have a new author to read, and that’s a good thing.

  298. Chris Peterson says:

    I enjoy all SF, no matter who wrote it. This kind of behavior is rediculous.

  299. Ms. Aguirre, you’re right to be angry. I too bought a copy of Grimspace to support you. since I grew up reading C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, and C.J. Cherryh in addition to the usual diet of Asimov and Heinlein. Too many of these macho boys forget that a woman wrote one of English literature’s oldest and best-known works of science fiction, by which I mean Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Too many men at my day job also forget that the first programmer was a woman (Lady Ada, Countess of Lovelace), and that one of the most enduring programming languages (COBOL) was originally designed by a woman, Admiral Grace Hopper.

    • Admiral Hopper did not design COBOL. She did design a predecessor language, FLOW-MATIC, which has similarities. She had a nickname of Grandma COBOL because of this. Admiral Hopper *is* credited with the concept of the compiler (a type of programming language translator).

      Two quotes of hers that are relevant here:

      “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

      “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”

  300. Alison says:

    The thing that confounds me most about men behaving this way is the fact that they wouldn’t exist except for women. Go figure.

  301. V. Applegate says:

    Triggering is a good way to describe your post and the follow up comments. The anger I’m feeling is secondary to the sadness, disappointment, and shame I feel for a chunk of humanity. I applaud you for in the end having the courage to take a stand and speak out. And will you the courage to take a stand in the moment if you are faced with such doplorable behavior in the future. I have not read your writing other than this post. And that doesn’t matter. Even if your writing style ends up being one that someone doesnt prefer, it doesnt give them the right to belittle you or berate you for having the courage to follow your dreams and actually write. Since I have never walked in your shoes, or over such uncharted and biased terrain, I will not pretend to comprehend the depths of your depravity and the confusion and hurt you must feel. Having known abuse and intolerance I empathize with you. As a society we MUST see the humanity in each other and support each other. The people who lash out and vent their anger are the ones who need the most help and support. They feel threatened, uncomfortable, and scared, and project that onto others. If we can still have compassion for the fear these people are feeling, as you break free of the compliancy of the SF genre and shift the power and focus to new ways of thinking then there is hope for a kinder and better world. Never let someone turn you into someone you aren’t. And never stoop to someone’s level just for a fight. Instead invite them up to meet you on the moral high ground so you can both enjoy the view.

  302. Elizabeth Moon says:

    Never quit. I know it hurts. I grew up in the ’40s and ’50s, when sexism was so entrenched it didn’t even have a name. It was just how girls and women were taught to expect to be treated…and how boys and men were taught to treat them. (They’d open a door for you, but they thought that meant all the “jokes” and mean comments and refusing to let you take the classes you wanted or join the clubs you wanted to join or get the job you wanted and paying women less was justified by the door opening.) I was told to flunk math and science tests on purpose so the boys’ egos wouldn’t be bruised, because they needed confidence to become scientists–and girls couldn’t anyway. I was kept out of some classes I wanted, refused admittance to the high school chemistry club (boys only), told I could not run on the school track (lest I continue to outrun the boys I had been outrunning for years…their tender egos, you know.) I was told I wasn’t *really* interested in science or engineering–I was just pretending so I could chase the boys. (THOSE boys? ha.) A math prof in college told me girls couldn’t learn calculus. And so on. Lots of that. More than that.

    I started publishing SF and F in the mid 1980s, about when there started being enough women in the field that the most sexist men realized they had real competition…and boy, did they bellow and whine and pitch hissy fits then. I remember seeing furious LOCs in ANALOG because there was a story by a woman in every issue for awhile–sometimes even TWO of them. SF was going to the dogs (spelled differently) and subscriptions were dropped.

    BUT. Keep writing. Keep going where you want to go. Keep doing what you want to do. LAUGH at them. (They hate that. They hate it most when they try to diss you.) Hang out with other women who are also getting the treatment because it’s easier to laugh in groups. It’s easier to survive with others who are in the same danger. Men who won’t read SF by women? Ignore ‘em. Yes, it hurts. It stings and burns a long time. Don’t go to those places where the most of that stuff spews out. Block anybody who sends you abusive email. It’s not “being fair” to read that trash or engage with abusers…it’s hurting yourself.

    I take mild issue with “SFWA is the original old boys club.” No. EVERYTHING but childbearing, childrearing, elementary level teaching, and nursing used to be the original old boys’ club. The military, law, medicine, accounting, finance, engineering, sciences, even (in some countries even now) all education. When my mother studied engineering in the 1930s, first of her kind in her school, she was laughed at when she tried to get a job. The only time she worked as an engineer was for the Army Air Corps in WWII…and then she was attacked by a male lingerie salesman with a rivet gun claiming she was a witch, because no real woman could be an engineer. She had wanted to be a doctor–but no women were allowed in pre-med or med school within many hundreds of miles. Our high school handed out a book to every senior on occupations–information on education needed, work you’d do, pay scales, etc. Of the hundreds of occupations listed, only 10% were regularly open to women. (Women interested in forestry were told to marry a forest ranger.) Female Phi Beta Kappa students in my good university often could not get into med school or law school because of the 5% limit on female applicants. And since this was during the Viet Nam war, some laid guilt on women who went to any graduate school because “you should leave spaces open for men who want another draft deferment.” Sexism isn’t an SF/F problem. It’s an international, worldwide, all cultures, all religions, all social classes, all occupations problem…for every girl and woman on the planet. Those in privileged positions who think they don’t have a problem…just never tested the glass ceiling or walls within which they’re comfortable.

    As long as women back away from conflict, from confrontation (and it’s not pleasant–believe me, I know that) we’re letting the men keep their old boys’ clubs intact and hurting ourselves and each other. Sexist men will not come to their senses, realize they’ve been unfair, and cheerfully give up some of their power. (Frankly…few people, men or women, like giving up power, prestige, wealth, whatever form their privilege takes. That includes me.) So write your books, do your thing…and at least give a thought to the women _in_ SFWA who have been, and are, and will be forcing change, however slowly.

    • Bookwench says:

      I… I…. I think I love you…

      I know I love your writing.

      Thank you.

      [You know, my husband said the Deed of Paksenarion was his favorite book, when we met. He was stunned that as a sci-fi & fantasy reader I'd never heard of it and loaned me his (rather precious to him, as we were quite poor and it was a big book) copy to read. Thus, my introduction to your work.]

  303. I had to check the date on your post to make sure it was right. I thought “this must be from years ago and she’s reposting it to show how times have changed” I mean you are ANN FUCKING AGUIRRE! Who doesn’t know you and your work? Seriously?? I’m still having a hard time believing this old men think they are better than you. Those hate mails, obviously they’ve forgotten how to write if they have to resort to using foul language as a way to communicate. I’m still shaking my head. You’re ANN FUCKING AGUIRRE! Do they really treat authors of your status like that?? Maybe I haven’t read your Sci-Fi but I think you know what’s Sci-Fi and what isn’t. And I’m waiting to get some time to read Bronze Gods and can’t wait for Outpost. And, btw, my use of the word FUCKING was for emphasis, not because I’m uneducated or have forgotten how to write. You’re a ROCK STAR!
    Don’t let them make you feel any different and remember when you get on the next stage! You are a ROCK STAR!

    Heather

  304. Cora Zane says:

    I’m truly shocked and saddened to hear you’ve gone through this, Ann. Seriously, because you posted what you went through at the conferences/conventions, someone wrote to you and said you need a good “cocking”? I take it with the giant rooster in his pants? What is it with men who threaten with their penis? I’ll tell you what it is. That is how insecure men react when they feel threatened by an intelligent woman. When the big head doesn’t have the brains to win the argument, they pull out the little one and shake it at you. I, for one, am not impressed.

    I suppose you can rest assured your message hit its target, and I hope there are many, many other women writers who put their foot down regarding this kind of treatment. I’m very glad I did not waste my money to attend any of the conferences you mentioned since women are so poorly treated and represented.

  305. Steve Stanley says:

    I apologize for not taking the time to read every one of the previous posts. But one lesson you should learn is that writers either have to develop thick skins or give up any hope of interacting with other people, even via computer. I have seen authors dismissed because of the genre or sub-genre of their work, insulted because they wrote e-books or tie-ins to other people’s works, talked down to because of their age, talked over because they simply weren’t as loud and self-centered as other panelists, pushed aside at signing tables because they were smaller or less well-known.

    Science fiction and fantasy, like all other aspects of every culture in history, has and always will have its share of jerks, yutzes, twits, boors, prima donnas, glory hounds, fascists, idiots, and other unpleasant folks. With about 40 years of club meetings and conventions and other related activities under my belt, I have noted that not all of those aforementioned are male or middle-aged or white or former military or part of any other set you could name. Some extreme cases barely seemed human. But on the whole, the s-f community has impressed me as a more welcoming place than others I’ve experienced and I always look forward to making new acquaintances there and renewing the old ones.

    Nothing worthwhile is easy. Finding your place in fandom or pro-dom could take a while. If you figure you’ve given it a fair try and the bad parts decidedly outweigh the good parts, maybe its not where you should stay. Just don’t let the behavior of others make that decision for you.

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  308. Gott im Himmel. Keep writing. Keep blogging. Keep standing up–and get THAT into the books. You’re working in a genre that badly needs transcending and you emphatically have the chops to do that. Don’t stop until they’re babbling in both your ears about movie rights. And oh, yeah, I’m buying your books. Right now.

  309. Amy Reineri says:

    It pays to put on your emotional armor before entering a hostile venue. Boys clubs will always be hostile to women until we start striking back. In my other profession, Architecture, new architects would hand me their copying work, assuming I was sitting near them because I was their assistant, not a fellow architect. Social situations with other architects – always a nightmare. But that means you hone your “corrective” skills. You know what they will say, you bring a series of biting responses that will assure they do not make the same comment to you twice. Will they call you a bitch, yes. But it is not a bad thing to be the Bitch in a room loaded with muts. You will be informally heckled in panels perhaps, so you can arm yourself with a stand-up comedy course that deals with hecklers. If they bring a verbal knife, bring a verbal gun. If they bring a verbal gun, bring a verbal bazooka. Make the retort brief, sharp and unmistakable – like pulling a choke chain on a wild boar. (For the grope, there is a good accidental-elbow-to-solar-plexis ‘reflex’ that will educate a them.)

    Don’t let your heart respond to someone striking at you, have a character handy to do so. Assume that personae and let them respond on your behalf. For women, it can be hard to respect yourself enough to step in hard on a situation, but let the personae do what you would do if you saw another woman being treated this way. You don’t need to respond to people who are rude in print, they are just trolling for attention. But if someone is gunning for your verbally, turn and give them your hardest character.

    If you enter the arena with your verbal weapons ready, you find you rarely end up using them. It changes your energy. Love your fans, be ready to push back the haters. And always play it for your fans, who would love to see you call someone out as a pig when they act like one. Is someone afraid of sex in SF? Tell them where the children’s book section is. Is someone afraid of women in SF? Remind them that they can find some old issues of Popular Mechanics if they want to feel comfortable. If they call you the token female, tell them you are their biggest fear: women in the boys club. Science Fiction is and continues to be a cutting edge genre, so, yeah, they might want to step the heck out of the way.

  310. Peter Sursi says:

    Ann, I’m so sorry this has happened to you. I’m so glad you decided to stand up. Thank you for sharing these experiences. I’m sure it was not pleasant reliving those memories, but posts like this will dispute the notion that it’s not that bad out there and there really is no problem to be solved.

  311. Pam Wallace says:

    Thank you for speaking up. I’m speechless at all of this, but mostly about the hate mail you received. It saddens me to think there’s so much hate in the world. I’m so glad you posted this, because the world needs to know. I truly had no idea.

  312. Anna says:

    Thanks for writing this. I’m adding your books to my never ending to-read pile.

  313. J. Andrews says:

    I’ve just put a hold on Grimspace at the library. Sorry you went through all that. Maybe I’ll just hold WisCon tight to my chest and say screw all the other cons.

  314. Thank you for writing this. I’ve only been writing for a year, but I’m already starting to get a feeling for what I’m up against as a woman writer, especially since I’m mostly interested in genre fiction. You post was brave and inspiring, and all the hateful responses mean nothing more than this: you’re getting under people’s skin. The more they lash out, or threaten you (as scary as I’m sure it is), the more they prove you are right.

    Keep fighting, and we’ll keep reading.

    Lauren

  315. Eva says:

    I haven’t experienced anything as bad as this, but I sat through a panel silencing by an older male in a different community and I felt much like you did… angry, embarrassed, and unwilling to subject myself to that kind of humiliation again. The one light of the pannel was having a female audience member ask me a direct question about something the other panelist had dismissed as useless and unimportant (it was a practical writing panel meant to help others).

    I’m sorry the community is treating you terribly and I hope that things improve. I hope that you keep writing, because there are clearly people who will support you, even though they aren’t the loudest voices yet. I wish I could do more to help (I’m a reader, but not a book-congoer). *offers hugs and sympathy*

  316. Just saw this: http://www.sfwa.org/2013/06/editor-of-sfwa-bulletin-resigns/

    I’m not at all sure that she was totally to “blame” for that cover, but there has to be a reason she didn’t reject it.

    Ann Aguirre is still one of my favorite writers, right up there with Gini Koch.

    I’m now seeing a whole big flap over a southern politician saying kids can’t read because moms work! And have you noticed the plunging necklines and skin-tight dresses worn by TV anchor-women? We thought we won. Did they steal a march on us while we weren’t looking?

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  318. And I keep seeing Julia Quinn, speaking before a group of hundreds of romance writers. “You will never hurt your career by helping another author,” she said, and nearly received a standing ovation. She could say those words and get that response because she’s generously lived them, as have many writing in that genre. WHAT IS so very, very WRONG with these guys?!

  319. A well-known and, I guess, respected male SF author spoke up on a feminist blog that was totally about “rape culture” and they were on him like a duck on a Junebug. That doesn’t even things out at all though cuz they were militant in their views and the guys at the cons you visited were just rude. Someone said they felt threatened which is what I took from it.

    A blog I used to visit, Mises.org, was a boys club and they hastened to tell me that, although some spoke up for me and welcomed my presence. These attitudes are changing too slowly to make any difference in my opinion. The reasons really have nothing to do with how many books you sell. Genetics, culture, anthropology, etc. enter in to it, but good manners can be learned.

  320. Digerbop says:

    “Its bitches like you that are ruining SF. Why cant you leave it to men who know what their doing?”

    This makes me laugh. Anyone else notice the poor grammar (what they’re doing). I will admit that I have not read any of your stuff, so I will no judge your writing. I will assume that most of the hate is simply because you are a woman and are writing something other than straight romance and not coping because your writing is garbage. If you did write poorly the comments should be “your writing sucks, I’ve read it” or “how can you judge good SF when you write garbage.” That would still be inappropriate, but at least it would be informed and honest. Who knew we still lived in the past where women are nothing more than a body, and black people are all slaves… Oh, immaturity… how I loathe you.

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  322. Cate Morgan says:

    Women can’t write sci-fi? There weren’t women sci-fi authors back in the halcyon days? Soooooo I *didn’t* become a sci-fi fan and a genre writer myself because of Ann McCaffery and Ursula LeGuin? Coulda fooled me. (Also, this just in: the world is apparently flat after all.)

    Whatta bunch of SISSIES (purveyors of Severe Immaturity Syndrome), these so-called men. I can’t imagine they’d stand for it had someone talked to their mothers, sisters, or daughters that way.

    Regardless of what they personally think of women in their field and what they write, I’m pretty sure their mothers taught them a modicum of manners as children. Isn’t everyone entitled to common courtesy, simply by dint of being a human being?

    I’m so proud of you, Ann, for standing up and being a champion. No one, but NO ONE has the right to treat you with disrespect, unless you LET them. Never forget you have your readers’ support.

  323. I am so angry, and so unsurprised, and so angry not to be surprised. Thank you for speaking out… I think you’re brave to do it, and brave to have gone through it, and more patient than these people deserve.

  324. Valerie M says:

    I can’t believe this happens in a community that is supposed to be all about solving issues and answering important questions. I thought sci-fi meant envisioning a world where we’ve dealt with this crap? Apparently not.

    Everything has been said, but I am offended on your behalf. The Grimspace series blew my mind. Sirantha’s relationship with Vel is one of the best, most interesting relationships I’ve ever read (human-to-nonhuman or otherwise) and the action always had me on the edge of my seat. The descriptions of grimspace? oh. my. god. Sign me up. I was halfway lost across star-studded galaxies along with Jax. You write sci-fi beautifully, in an extremely compelling way, and my (male, sci-fi loving) fiancé devoured it just as quickly as I did. I even found some quotes from the series in his quotes folder months later, and enjoyed them again. When I told him your work wasn’t considered sci-fi in some circles he couldn’t believe it, and this is a guy who has lived and breathed sci-fi all his life (subscription to Analog Science Fiction and Fact included).

    I hate to know you have been treated like this by a community I respect–a community that should know better. Just know your fans are behind you 100%.

  325. Thank you for sharing this. I knew there were issues in SFF fandom/pro-dom but it’s always important and useful to hear specific stories (if also upsetting). I think the hate mail (and the responses here suggesting you are a silly lady who is too sensitive or over-reacting) is really telling. We still inhabit a world where a lot of people hate women – sometimes overtly and sometimes in a ‘oh, I can’t take you seriously’ kind of way. Ugh. But I do think talking about it and raising awareness helps, so thank you again for this.

  326. Ann Aguirre says:

    First, I need to tell you how overwhelmed I am. I posted this on Sunday, before a short planned trip with my daughter, never expecting such a huge response. I’m absolutely stunned with awe and admiration and gratitude.

    I have read all the comments. I will respond to the ones that have questions as soon as I can. I also have a lovely backlog of emails from so many amazing people, and I’ll get to those asap as well. I can’t even articulate what all of this means to me.

    Thank you.

  327. Nik Reeves-McLaren says:

    As a male writer of speculative fiction, I just want to add my voice to the masses condemning this sickening misogyny. It’s 2013 – who do these morons think they are.

    Keep writing. Don’t let the bastards beat you for a second.

    Together we need to build supportive communities and conventions that are inclusive to ALL those willing to make a POSITIVE contribution.

  328. Gill Shutt says:

    As a fantasy writer who has a short sci fi book coming out at some point I’m not sure I’m looking forward to it now. Mine has a female protagonist, like yours. I think this attitude is just awful. Maybe if we all stand up and get counted the morons will realise just how many of us there are.
    Hang in there, things can only get better.

    • Bookwench says:

      Don’t let this crap bring you down – by writing sci-fi you are part of a massive change going on in the world. What you see here are the last dying screams of an older order. :)

  329. Liz Weishaar says:

    This is kind of off-topic, but as a non-science-nerd I have a hard time getting into scifi–even though it was my first reading love as a child. But I’m going to look for your books. Because, as part of 62% of the reading public, I should enjoy reading whatever I want, right? And maybe reading women scifi authors instead of trudging through the ubiquitous male blockbusters will rekindle my love of this brilliant genre.

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  331. You think the panelists and moderators can be bad? You should hear some of the stuff that comes out of attendees mouths when they see me at my author’s table. The fact that they feel the must make a comment or create a scene (which always draws positive attention toward me and negative toward them in my experience)reflects just how fragile they are.

    When I’m on panels I stand up for myself, I’ve even gone so far as to physically stand up and step forward if I think someone is being sexist. By the way, I’ll call folks in the audience on their sexism as well which ever way that falls. This is why I offer to moderate most of the time now and I get in contact with my panelists and try to set an agenda.

    But things still happen. Last year at three separate conventions I signed up for others’ panels. In two cases no one came for the panel besides me so I had to step up and make this an engaging 50-75 minutes event for everyone who came. In the other panel the person who created it showed up more than half way through the event and the audience just stared at him as he tried to take over. Sorry, dude, you were way late and I put a back-up into action.

    You know what this gets me, all this stepping up, standing up, and speaking out? Respect. From other authors and panelists, from the event organizers who know they can count on me, and attendees who know I will come prepared but also focused on getting them involved not just sitting there.

    I don’t know if anyone is planning to come to InConjunction 33 this year but I’m moderating a panel called “Girl Geeks Unite!” and we are going to talk about all these issues. (I also run a RPG there and this will be the 10th time I’ve done that and the 8th story in a series this convention.)

    Ann, if you don’t mind, could I mention this post of yours at that panel?

    If other conventions would be interested in having me visit them, send me an email please. Together we can make conventions more welcoming and engaging for everyone.

  332. Wow, just wow–especially some of those hate mails. This entire situation is disgusting and sad.

    I’m an aspiring writer of mostly fantasy. My first love is urban/contemporary fantasy, but I have a few epic fantasy (also a man-heavy genre) projects in the works. I considered publishing the epic under a pen name. I also have a dystopia-ish, genetic splicing project in the works that is definitely sf. After reading this and some other posts about those “boys,” to Hell with pen names. If my work gets out there, it’s going to have my name on it, and I don’t care who doesn’t like it.

    Aspiring female writers–don’t give in. Don’t write under a male pen name for these “boys.”

    Ann, thank you for this post. Keep writing. Keep standing up. I’m right beside you, trust me.

  333. Ashbet says:

    I am horrified (but sadly not surprised) that you were treated this way, and I’m deeply disappointed that more panel members, moderators, and audience members (kudos to David Brin) didn’t speak up and say that this behavior was unacceptable.

    Silence, in these instances, can add up to complicity — if no one wants to be the one with the uncomfortable focus that calling this shit out, no one does it.

    I’m glad that you have spoken up — and as a woman who has been a SF/F reader for 35+ years, I applaud you. And I’m now very interested in checking out your books (I’m a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold, among many other excellent female authors, and I like the deft way that she weaves three-dimensional characters with emotions and relationships into her most assuredly proper-science-fiction universe . . . and if your work focuses on characters of a similar nature, you’re definitely gaining a new reader!)

    And for the ‘dinosaurs’ out there — I sure as hell vote with my wallet, and as I hear more of these appalling stories of your behavior toward female fans or female colleagues, any desire I have to purchase your works just got hit with a great big calamitous asteroid.

  334. Ann, I am so sorry for the treatment you’ve received. I wish I could say it surprised me. Certainly the hate mail doesn’t; I’ve been aware for some time that the price of Having An Opinion On The Internet While Female is to get rape threats from anonymous cowards. (As well as lectures on how you need to develop a thick skin, and mild trolling by respected male authors. Argh.) And while I’ve been pretty damn lucky with my con-going experience, I’ve still been “treated” to a few memorable performances by Big-Name Male Egos. Ick. (Example: When the only man on a panel introduces himself as “the token male” like that’s the greatest joke ever, things will not go well. And indeed they did not.)

    But I wanted to share the story of how Grimspace ended up on our bookshelf, in case you or anyone else reading finds it hopeful. My husband and I read books aloud to each other, have done for years, and it was his turn to read one to me. He wanted to pick out something that was new to both of us, rather than just new to the person having it read to them. His criteria at the bookstore was simple. He wanted to read…

    1) Science fiction
    2) that was written by a woman
    3) that had a woman on the cover
    4) who had not been contorted into softcore porn.

    And that’s how both Grimspace and Madeline Ashby’s Vn wound up in the read-aloud queue. Because my husband specifically wanted SF with girl cooties.

    It’s getting better. We have to believe it’s getting better. For me, at least, believing it’s getting better is what gives me the strength to keep trying to make it better.

    I hope that we cross paths at a convention one of these days soon. I would like to shake your hand and thank you personally for your refusal to back down.

  335. Sasha White says:

    I just have to say there are some truly dumbass people out there in the world. Not just the ignorant ones who judge by gender (or skin color or looks at all) but the ones who think sending hate mail like that is in any way acceptable. I’ve experienced plenty of people (writers and readers) judging me because of what I write -especially 10 years ago before erotic romance was even around- and was nodding my head in accord as I read your post…then I read the hate mail and my jaw dropped. Not only do you write fantastic SF, but you also have every right to stand up for yourself and your opinions. I mean, you’re human right?

    If I ever saw/heard someone speak like that in person, I’d smack’em so hard they’d see the stars Jax travels through.

    (Big HUG)

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  337. I’m a male writer of fantasy and horror (one novel and a few short stories sold) – and old enough to remember the pulp magazines / chain mail bikini days. I don’t know what I would have become as a writer or a human being if it hadn’t been for Andre Norton and Ursula K. Le Guin. Good luck with your writing.

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  339. Dear Ann,

    I am sickened by what you’ve experienced. It’s depressing beyond words that these pissants feel the need to belittle someone because that said someone writes better than they do. As a long-time reader of SF/F, the close-mindedness of the male species in that genre boggles my mind.

    I applaud you for standing up & giving them what for. Too bad more people didn’t do that to shut them up and shut them down. *hugs*

  340. Zeek says:

    I experience some of this working in the male dominated field of engineering- I’m paid less then male peers and have been assigned “fetch my coffee” duties by my boss at times- a boss btw, who feels he is the least sexist amongst HIS peers, because he has me on the team (“token female”). Because he is my boss, I do whatever I’m assigned, but I dream of a day when I can fight it OR someone will recognize and pay me what I’m worth. But, because I’m single and cannot afford to lose my job, I raise the issue when I can, then… unfortunately… shut up and sit down.

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  344. Franc Ingram says:

    Ann, I’m so sorry you had that experience. just know that there are many woman branching out into the Scifi field and we can stand as an army against that kind of behavior. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t think you’re alone.

  345. C.B. Pratt says:

    I salute you for writing this.

    The ‘silver-backed gorillas’ of SFF have only one defense against the new ideas, the fresh emotions, that women writers bring into their part of the jungle. They can only puff themselves up and make loud repellent noises.

    But if we aren’t scared by this, if we refuse to be ‘nice girls’, they have no other power. They can’t stop us. They can’t even slow us down. It’s not like employment, where you may have to play along to get along. The gorillas of SFF can’t prevent a woman writer from writing and publishing.

    It is shocking, of course, when someone is blatantly rude. I find laughter to be the best response. When it comes to actual physical assault, however, even if called ‘groping’, then my response is more explicit.

    Humans are trained from infancy to listen to the female voice. That’s a power we must use, loud and proud. Any attempt to silence the voice of half the population of the world is doomed to failure.

  346. Lindsay says:

    Dear Ann,
    Your story made me cry, both from sadness at the world as it is and in relief realizing yet again that I am not alone. You state at the beginning that these are just anecdotes. That is true. But it is the accumulation of anecdotes by a multitude of women that proves the fact that sexism still exists and is rampant even in our “modern” world. I too have been accused of trying to generalize from my own anecdotes (and, therefore, of course, not only was my evidence not valid, but I *obviously* didn’t know about science either since I made such a basic mistake). I wanted to be a scientist my entire life, since at least 8 years old if not before. But now I’ve pretty much dropped out of the scientific and academic careers just because of the hardships I endured. Hardships that I believe were almost entirely due to sexism and discrimination. What I find most disheartening is that I can’t even convince otherwise smart women that this is still a problem. So many of them just look at me sympathetically and ask if maybe I was taking things too personally or if maybe I wasn’t as smart as I thought. Not being able to convince men is one thing, but not being able to convince other women really hurts. Men have conditioned us so well, that most people – men AND women – don’t even see the chains that bind us. I thank you for speaking out against this problem and want you to know that I will share your story.

  347. Steve Stanley says:

    I do hope that no one will believe that the science fiction & fantasy field, in either its professional or its fannish aspects if some specially odious backwater of knuckle-dragging misanthropes. If anything the people in this area seem to skew toward more liberal social views and are, as a whole, friendly, upbeat, easy-going, and accepting of differing points of view. At its worst, the field is covered by Sturgeon’s Law – “Ninety percent of science fiction is crap. But then, ninety percent of everything is crap.” Don’t be put off by the stories being told here and become either too afraid to take part or so preemptively bellicose as to alienate new acquaintances. Those who are determined to find prejudice and injustice will do so, whether or not it exists to an objective observer.

    Ladies are welcome, and with few exceptions, have been, since the eocene days of the 1920s. As attitudes in the broader society have changed, so have the attitudes in s-f. Authors like Catherine L. Moore and Andre Norton, who were there in the earlier times, happily testified to the changes and progress they had seen by the 70’s and 80’s. Where the literature and associated other s-f media were once aimed at tech-savvy teenage males, the field is now targeting both sexes, all ages, and the entire spectrum of buyers, from those who know nothing about science (a sad and growing proportion) to those who are complete technical wonks. This broader approach is reflected in the increasing number of multi-generational families attending conventions.

    As professionals, you must accept the fact that good writing is not enough to be successful or earn the respect of your peers. You also have to be willing to deal with repeated rejections (even after those first few sales), crushing criticisms, snarky comments, lousy to non-existent publisher assistance, and the need to endlessly schmooze/promote whatever you’re trying to sell. Those things apply to male and female, all races, all ages, and all nationalities of creative people. And you need to recognize the unchanging fact that human beings are the most cantankerous, contemptible, infuriating, confusing, unpredictable critters yet put on God’s green earth. If you can deal with all that, you can make a go of things. In other words, it’s like nearly every other type of self-employment.

    • Steve Stanley–

      Your experience in the field has obviously been very different from Ann’s, and I’m glad for you. Not only have you not experienced what she has, and you haven’t witnessed it, either. So here’s my question: if someone tells you they have experienced something, and if that person has the courage to speak up about it, and to wonder if this is a problem for a wider audience…and if this problem is then responded to with similar stories…what makes you think she is addressing a problem that isn’t “real”? Is it because YOU haven’t experienced it? That logic isn’t sound.

      You seem to think that she should not complain, because “this is part of the game.” But perhaps, Steve, that’s exactly the problem: this game is messed up, and needs to be re-imagined. Perhaps “bellicose” behavior is exactly what we need to move forward.

      Not someone telling us to sit down, and keep our mouths shut.

      Thanks for reading.
      –Lauren

    • Amy B. says:

      Let me guess, you consider yourself to be an “objective observer”? And what exactly qualifies you to be objective, the fact that sexism doesn’t affect you?

      Your determined ignorance reflects exactly why this kind of thing keeps happen, even from people who consider themselves to be liberal. There is absolutely nothing liberal about dismissing women’s words as you have just done.

    • Jenn Lyons says:

      Steve Stanly —

      A friendly piece of advice: when trying to communicate with a group, you may be wise to avoid language that proclaims your authority (particularly when the group may think said authority or expertise has not been earned.) Using words like ‘must,’ ‘need,’ ‘have to,’ etc. implies that you’re the ‘final word’ on such matters, and honestly, you’re so not.

      As a professional, you may want to see to that.

      You’re certainly welcome to share your opinion, but anytime you tell me what I *must* do, you’ve instantly lost my willingness to listen to that opinion. That goes double for a statement that ultimately amounts to ‘you just need to grow a thicker skin and stop being so sensitive.’ We’re not children, and none of us need you to come around and explain how the world really works.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      I am translating your comment for those who suffer from TL;DR syndrome or who may not have a dictionary to hand:

      “The battle of the sexes is over. A few women I know (and I totally have friends who are women!) said so. Therefore, your experiences (and the experiences of every woman who has posted or emailed on this topic) are invalid, and you’re making me uncomfortable with your opinions. So please quiet down and go back to reading stories about dragons. Thank you.”

    • Steve Stanley –

      What rock have you been living under?

      No, seriously, we need the GPS location of it so we can send all the little misogynistic twits who are part of the “boys behaving badly” (I certainly can’t call them men regardless of their age or their package) club of SF scurrying your way for sanctuary.

      Just because YOU haven’t seen it or been a victim of it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      Just because there are plenty of men who don’t realize they are part of that BBB SF club and are shocked (SHOCKED, I say *gasp!*) to find out yes, we’re talking about THEM and their asshat ways, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      So, buddy, let me tell you to just sit down, shut up, and let the women who know what are really going on discuss, ‘mkay?

      Thanks, sweetie.

      Now go run get Momma a coffee. She’s thirsty.

    • MaryK says:

      “As professionals, you must accept the fact that good writing is not enough to be successful or earn the respect of your peers.”

      So how do SF professionals earn the respect of their peers? And if I say I’ve lost all respect for the rude authors Ann referred to, whoever they are, what is your response? “They’re such talented writers?” (But that’s not enough to earn the respect of their peers.) “They’ve contributed so much to the genre?” (Including extreme rudeness.)

      This isn’t really about Ann or writers earning the respect of their peers. It’s about “professionals” who think rude and insulting behavior is in keeping with their own professionalism.

    • C.B. Pratt says:

      Stan — Maybe you don’t understand that you’re talking to a group of highly professional and talented people here.

      Not 14 year olds at a career-day at the local high school.

    • Bookwench says:

      I’ve been in this fandom my whole life. Women do get treated differently, and sidelined, and are not as welcome. You’re coming across as dismissive; we’re saying, look. Look at this, this is an example of being dismissed, threatened, being attacked.

      I’ve sat in a room and made a comment and had it be dismissed, and seen a man make the exact same comment 5 minutes later and have it be accepted. Not once. Not twice. But dozens of times. So many times I can’t count them anymore.

      There are variables here. Maybe you didn’t say it loud enough? Maybe you didn’t say it in a confident tone? Maybe you said it at the wrong time? After all, the content doesn’t matter as much as how it’s presented, to the acceptance of the group.

      And this is what I’m saying: women have great content, but we’re not men, so how it’s presented – the fact that it’s presented by women – gets it dismissed.

      Because of prejudice.

      And this is why we’re angry.

      And this is why, when you dismiss what we’re saying – we get angry with you specifically.

      Let me give you a thought experiment. You’re a writer; do this like a workshop thing, in your head.

      Take everything Ms. Aguire has said here. Change the genders. Re-present it as a man saying that women have behaved this way towards him. Write your reaction to him. Break it down in your head and see where you’d have said something different, if it were Mr. Aguire instead of Ms.

      Perhaps – and I’m guessing here – you’d have offered nothing but some sympathy, without the “it’s all in your head” section of your writing.

    • Matt Leo says:

      Steve — I think you’re talking past Ann, using the general sense of her post as a platform for making your own points rather than reading and responding to hers. She’s not talking about the hurdles an unpublished or just-published writer’s work has to surmount. She’s talking about being treated with respect *in person*. If a conference invites an author to participate on a panel, the moderator ought to treat that panelist with respect, as should his or her fellow panelists.

      The behavior she decribes on the part of the authors strikes me more as rock star ego than anything else. It’s immature but not surprising.

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  349. Stephanie Scott says:

    I’m glad you posted the emails too, with spelling errors and all. Nevermind if it’s the correct their/there/they’re, these guys know that bitch and c*** will hit you where it hurts. People who feel threatened lash out because they’re (see: They Are) protecting their dominance. It’s probably great to be a male SF writer, and some of these guys don’t want to share.

    I’m proud of Scalzi for taking responsibility and doing what he can to turn things around in his organization. The more men who also stand up and say that belittling, marginalizing, and shaming are not acceptable, then those clanging gongs will become a minority, on the fringes, shouting at us bitches until they are blue in the face.

  350. Tanya Bjork says:

    I just found out about you as a writer, and I just bought Grimspace. Thank you for writing, and thank you for speaking up about this. Not all men in the industry are like that, but it’s important that it’s made known that enough of them are bad enough that it’s definitely something that needs addressing.

  351. A.Beth says:

    …You totally, 100%, write SF. I never doubted it when I picked up Grimspace, and I never doubted it when I grabbed all the others, and I may whine when you killed off some characters, but, sheesh, readers and authors can have a difference of opinion without getting daft about it. Also, I liked the series ending.

    (…look, there are spaceships, aliens, hyperspace, psionics, Funky Precursor Tech… If it’s not SF, what the heck *is* it? It may have a romantic relationship in there, but it also has a platonic BFF one, and the *pattern*, the *structure*, is not Romance. It’s SF. How daft does one have to be to be confused on this front? O_o)

    • A.Beth says:

      (Just to reply to myself and make a clarification. When I say “not Romance,” it’s because the structures and tropes are highlighting the SF. (Which is, frankly, how I like my Romance, at least 75% of the time… Worldbuilding is hot. ;) ) Romance has its own set of tropes and requirements. It’s like Hot Chocolate and Ice Cream; they’re both good on their own (though one or the other may not be to your tastes), and when mingled, often one flavor will be primary — the hot chocolate melts the ice cream, or the ice cream fills the cup and there’s not much hot chocolate left. Which preference one has (cold with a bit of chocolate-flavor, or melty hot with ice cream flavor?) is entirely a matter of personal taste, and does not indicate the ice cream/hot chocolate is *bad*.

      I had to elaborate on this because I forgot — till I read something else on another page — that some people use “Romance” in a dissing way. And, sheesh, no dissing here. I’d be a howling hypocrite to dis SF&F with heavy (or light) Romance tropes, for one thing!)

      • Bookwench says:

        Hey, sci-fi has always had Romance in it! Heinlein wrote tons of romance into his books. Occasionally creepy, often semi-perverse, definitely different – but Romance nonetheless. (Also loads of non-romantic sex, but there was occasionally romance too.)

        Asimov not so much, but Niven has some in his, and so does Brin and – loads of writers have romance in there. (It’s just that they’re guys so they don’t get dissed and dismissed for it. Note to self: get a guy’s name as a psuedo.)

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      I understood what you meant– that it wasn’t pejorative. I love romance and read it for enjoyment.

      But often, when they’re dismissing my work, they do call it Mills&Boon in space or something along those lines. Yet male writers who have written strong relationships or have sex in their SF– do they receive the same condemnation? I wonder.

  352. QuoterGal says:

    Ann, very time lately that I see a younger woman (I am 58) like you stand up & speak out against this sexist bullshit, I am re-invigorated, and and re-inspired. I’ve gotten so tired of this stuff over the decades that sometimes I just read or experience crap like the stuff you went through (and some of the comments above) and I shake my head and walk away because: well, I’ve fought this battle so many times, in so many ways.

    I want to hand the person – I wanted to say “guy”, but it’s not *always* (though usually) a guy – a stack of books and articles and vids and say, “Come back to me when you’ve read & seen all of this and *maybe* then we’ll talk. Until then, just shut the fuck up. You know nothing about this issue.”

    But that’s no good. Women like you and Anita Sarkeesian and Delilah Dawson and so many more recently (@EverydaySexism) keep showing me that I don’t get to lay this down, that’s it’s *still* just as rampant as ever (and maybe even more backlashy), and that it’s not over ’til it’s over.

    Thanks for being so brave and articulate. It also makes me want to check out your books. ; ]

    A quick response I posted lately on FB, just because I was re-inspired by your post. It’s not a patch on yours, but then, I didn’t have to respond to anything like your appalling experiences. https://www.facebook.com/themarysue/posts/514138575320519?comment_id=4538866&offset=0&total_comments=8

  353. Reading about these events you describe makes me disgusted – mostly with myself for times in the past when I’ve shrugged at inappropriate comments or rolled my eyes without saying or doing anything.

    If more single individuals just called out people, instead of ignoring what we know is wrong, it would go so far to solve the problem…but nobody wants to be confrontational or difficult, so it ends up going round and round. All I can say is next time I’m present when I witness something demeaning or insulting I’m going to try really hard to not let it go past without making my feelings known.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      It would definitely be easier to be brave — on the spot — if we felt confident that we would be backed up. Like, if during one of those panels, I had said, “Look, I don’t like the way I’m being treated here,” and people in the audience said, “Yeah, I noticed that, too. You guys need to back off / accord more respect” or something. But the fear is, that the people in the room are so steeped in privilege that you then become the target of mockery, not only from panelists, but from the whole audience. You become the bitter bitch who can’t take a joke or the FemiNazi who doesn’t understand how the world works. Nobody, in a bad situation, wants to make it worse.

      But sometimes silence is the same as tacit acceptance. And I won’t do that anymore. If I ever find myself in that situation again, I will speak. If that means the audience turns on me, then I’ll say, “I can see this room isn’t for me. Good luck,” and go.

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  355. CJ Black says:

    All I can say is…wow…just wow… Many have already posted exactly how I feel about the situation, and I’m in complete agreement. I will add however, thank you for posting this and bringing this situation to light. I’ve not been to a con myself — yet. I am currently working on a heroic fantasy novel to go into mainstream. I’ve published e-books that are adult in nature and trust me I’ve gotten some really snarky things said so in a sense, I know. I will say I wish I could have been there with you for support. I’m not a big science-fiction reader, I’ll indulge once and awhile and I’m planning to pen my first straight sci-fi novel in the near future. But after reading this, I’m now intrigued about your works and I’m going to have a look around your site to see which of them will go on my TBR List and eventually become a purchase at B&N. Keep writing dear, first for yourself and then your fans and to h*** with the old farts and what they have to say.

    Peace ~
    CJ Black

  356. Idea says:

    I guess that all it is, is relative. The “I shouldn’t be judged because of this..” is a fallacy, however it’s true. Women dominate YA i’m sure if a male author’s in the scene have gotten bashed for not having the y chromosome. Someone always has shit to say. Personally though I do prefer male protagonist and I am sexist. Sometimes i’ll read a line where the woman goes all rambo after getting rolled up like Rudy Cadena (American Me will help w/ this reference) and i’ll think “No fucking way this bitch should be able to do this”. However, in all this I do find predominantly that though female authors do not bring heavy themes or generally execute themes with the vitality of novels like Enders Game and Old Man’s War they are veritably more colorful in emotion. For one, that is why Sagan’s Diary continues to be, in my eyes the most in-depth depiction of the philosophy of love by a male author written from a female POV. That is also why I consider your series, particularly Jax Sinthera to be a masterpiece of love and war in the SF category. Your writing especially in the last novel was marvelous. May blessings fall upon you and your family, and your work become ever more refined.

    • Bookwench says:

      “female authors do not bring heavy themes or generally execute themes with the vitality of novels like Enders Game and Old Man’s War”

      You mean, women write about how we as humans interact in a tech world, while men write about the tech itself, and the one is less weighty than the other?

      You’re trapped in a bias, sir. (You do openly acknowledge this, which is very observant of you.) You may wish to consider that all stories are, in the end, effectively about people. Tech is only the stage on which the players act; tech does not act on its own. If it does, it stops being tech, and starts being people.

      A lot of what science fiction worships seems to be devoted to the props department of the story. FTL, phasers, teleportation – possible? Maybe. Do they drive the story? No. The people do that. The relationships do that. The goals and actions of the characters do that.

      You may wish to reconsider which themes are weighty and which are merely stage dressing for the real story. Human relationships are the entirety of history. There is no act in our world divorced from emotion, from passion, from love and hate and fear and sadness. And women do write those stories, those decisions.

      • Camille says:

        “And women do write those stories, those decisions.”

        Women and men who are mature and have developed in a well-rounded way write these stories. Yet somehow emotion is associated with women and thus accorded lesser status. Not a “Grand Enough Theme.” Give me strength — I wonder, if emotional exploration was associated primarily with men, would it be denigrated or lauded? And then would the women who wrote about pure tech with flawless Vulcan logic be taken to task?

  357. Fazy says:

    I came found this blog post from a FB link that Katharine Kerr posted up.

    Thank you so much for writing this. I cant even begin to say how wonderful it is to read that you are speaking out about this. I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve had to go through — at cons no less! That was disrespectful and unacceptable, and it happens way too often everywhere, and you are a HERO for standing your ground. I salute you, I admire you, you inspire me.

    I’m not a scifi writer. I’m spent some time dabbling at academia, and I’m a cosplayer, but I’ve lost count of the number of times my opinions have been invalidated simply because I’m female and “dont get it”. Or how my contributions are just swept aside because apparently i’m pretty. Or how my personal achievements have been dismissed “because you’re not married”. And when I don’t approve of that logic, I’m automatically just PMSing or getting my “feminist” panties into a twist. Or if all else fails, I’m just a cunt.

    The tragic thing is that whatever we do just reinforces their belief. If I say nothing, its an affirmation that women are like that. If I speak out, I’m labelled as irrational and hysterical which again reinforces their belief. Even in day-to-day life.

    I love SF, and I love cons (thankfully the cons where I come from isnt so bad), but I have heard many female writers say that they experience the same thing. It would be so liberating to have a con which operates on the basis of dignity and self-respect.

  358. Amy S. says:

    I’m so sorry that people are still behaving like this. I just constantly scratch my head in complete bewilderment. Thank you for this post. I’m so very proud of my fellow Canadians being so welcoming, and you know…just being Canadian! ;)

    Keep standing tall.

  359. Steve Stanley says:

    Having had my words ignored, mischaracterized, and twisted in a manner I suspect most of the respondents here would find objectionable should such happen to them, I will nonetheless try to make reasonable replies to certain points.

    Lauren Spieller – My experience has indeed been different from Ann’s, as has everyone else’s, to some degree. But like others writing here, I have witnessed and, on occasion, been subject to bad treatment of some similar sorts. I have been the target of ad hominem attacks, been called ugly names (referring to my weight, age, personal appearance, race, and religion), been told I did not know what I was talking about (in one case due to my sex), had seriously posed questions laughed off and left unanswered, had my work trashed because the person reading it did not agree with points of my politics or philosophy. So I do not deny that it happens, nor do I oppose people speaking up and reacting negatively when they feel they have been ill-used. Nowhere in my posts have I said or implied anything to the contrary.

    Complaining can be useful (or at least cathartic) when done the right way. Done the wrong way it just makes the complainer look small and petty. It is a truism, one I have never heard anyone successfully refute, that life is a difficult business, where you will take bumps and bruises. That is as true if you make your living in s-f as if you sell vegetables or repair cars. Yes, there is a time to be bellicose, but that’s a foolish thing to do if you end up alienating those who would otherwise aid you and sympathize with you.

    I am not telling anyone to sit down or keep their mouths shut, though I was told that by another poster here.

    Amy B. – I do not claim to be an “objective observer,” though I do think of myself as an experienced one regarding some aspects of the s-f field and generally a careful one. Yes, I am ignorant, as are you and everyone else. Mark Twain, I believe, put it quite accurately – “We’re all ignorant, just on different things.” And no, I do not consider myself liberal and I did not dismiss anyone’s words.

    Jenn Lyons – I don’t care a fig what you think about my authority. I don’t claim to be an authority. Like you, I am a person with an opinion. And I choose the words I want to express it. I AM the final word on what I say, if on nothing else.

    Sorry, but you DO have to develop a thick skin (or go barking mad) if you have regular dealings with other people. In an ideal world that would not be true. But many of them are not nice and they will do things to offend you and say things you don’t like and act in generally bad ways (unless you live in some sunny land of lollipops and unicorns and talking animals where everyone gets along all the time.) I don’t say you should like it, but the only practical way to deal with it involves letting the insignificant stuff roll off and saving your energies for tackling what really matters to you.

    Ann Aguirre – Your translation is badly flawed. The battle of the sexes is not over and will not be over so long as both sexes continue to exist. I did not say it was. I said that some very well known female s-f writers who were in the field for decades had it rougher and said they had seen change for the positive. Catherine Moore, who started in the 30’s, wrote as C.L. Moore because she was afraid her work would not be published if it was known to have a female author. Alice Mary Norton, beginning in the same decade, chose the pen name Andre Norton for the same reason. Those were days when s-f might well have been described as a “boys’ club.” Any woman author who fears letting her sex be known today may have other valid reasons for concealing it, but that particular reason has gone the way of the dodo. This is an example of positive change.

    Tymber Dalton – Again, I did not and do not claim that unreasoned discrimination against female authors does not still exist. I clearly assert that instances of prejudice against authors for a variety of reasons (see my post #305, paragraph 1) continues. Don’t think you’re alone. But for Goddess’ sake, don’t lash out at men who upon hearing your plaints, give a response other than “Amen, Sister” that is nonetheless genial. And please don’t stigmatize the s-f field as being particularly plagued by prejudice, sexism, or insensitivity. If you look at any other part of what we call civilization, you’ll find plenty there, too. My hope is that the women reading the posts on Ann’s site will not come to think that they would be better off finding another genre to write in or some activities other than our conventions to attend for a good time.

    MaryK – Those who don’t accept the fact that good writing is not enough to be successful or earn the respect of their peers, are Grade-A fools! The greatest wordsmiths in the world still have to send off their works, chancing the slings and arrows of criticism and rejection from publishers (almost always more than once before they see print.) They have to cultivate the fortitude to bear up under negative reviews and harsh reader comments without collapsing into mewling puddles of self-doubt. They have to promote their works unceasingly to make them seem worthy and attractive purchases when readers have so many other choices; and they often have to do it despite scanty or no help from the publishers who should be handling that job (at least in the print market.)

    You earn respect by showing that you have been successful, by doing all those things well and more than once. And no, not everybody will pay you the respect that you’ve earned, even then. But the best revenge, they say, is in living well. When you encounter rudeness, you can often gain credit in the eyes of observers by refusing to be rude in return and instead displaying simple dignity. Ask Ghandhi if you ever see him. If you expect life to be fair, pick another planet, ’cause it sure don’t work that way here.

    C.B. Pratt – I have said not a word denigrating the talents, professional qualifications, or even the honestly expressed passions of anyone posting here.

    When dealing with bullies, use only the force necessary, lest you be seen as a bully yourself. Depending on the particular circumstance, that may mean anything from walking away staring daggers to issuing a biting retort to slapping an unwelcome hand to swearing out a warrant.

    Just remember, please, that other people who offer their unvarnished opinions on an open forum without resorting to lies, statistics (which are often worse), profanities, or character attacks deserve the same sort of treatment you would like to receive when posting. I may rightly be said to speak forcefully and plainly, but what I say, I mean. Conversely, I do not mean what I don’t say. People who “read” meaning into my bald language or “interpret” it are seeing projections of their own thoughts there, not mine.

    FIAWOL!

  360. Amanda says:

    I linked to this via Facebook’s news feed because I was excited that I knew someone who would recognize your name and had taken the time to post a link to your blog (A blog I was unaware existed). Then I got very confused. I love me some Sirantha Jax. Why on earth would anyone say that any of your Jax books are not SF? Beyond that, why would anyone be rude to you about it?? As a guest speaker and a significant draw to these conventions, I cannot fathom why any of this would be acceptable.

    I like your work. I believe it is valid. It is well written. The characters are gripping and multi-dementional. The stories that are being told are worth hearing.

    I am not a rabid fan (not that those are bad or anything *excuse me while I look around for rabid and possibly offended fans*) and I do not like reading for the sake of reading. I can appreciate critics who wish to discuss the theory of science fiction and the ways in which certain books do or do not fit nicely into a genre’s mould. I will gladly pick apart books that are terribly written and full of inconsistencies, logical thought failures and plot holes (see the first Nocturne City book by Kittredge). I’m drifting off topic–My point is that if you wrote dreck I would gladly say so. I would call it dreck from the roof top and write a 100 page analysis supporting my proclamation. I won’t though, because your work is not dreck and shame on anyone who tries to shove you into a corner to soothe their ego.

    Also–I hope the list of misogynistic asshats does not include Scalzi because that would make me sad.

  361. Melliane says:

    it’s sad to see something like that, I never thought it would be like that and I’m very surprised to see how some person are mean for nothing. I’m really sorry.

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  364. Angela says:

    I am really disgusted with the comments – but you know, whenever you have an open blog or YouTube account, this kind of idiot will take it as a challenge to be an asshole.
    I am truly sorry that you received the kind of reception you did at the cons. Although I have been an avid SF/F reader since the 60s, I have been to only one con – many years ago in Vancouver, BC. There, I saw a well-known male SF writer I revered staggering totally blotto around the corridors and taking advantage of female groupie fans in his room. I never went to another one. I don’t think what goes on in the background of cons – and con – has changed greatly in the intervening years. Too bad that some of that attitude has emerged into the spotlight as well – but at least there it can be attacked and exposed, and should be.
    I have read female S/SF writers forever. In the 60s, the only library I had access to back in the 60s had two or three writers – Heinlein, Asimov and Andre Norton. I preferred the later and read everything she wrote. The first genre book I ever read was Moon of Three Rings. I have a copy now as a memento.
    I love female writers because they’re able to project human emotions, especially those of women, so effectively – but they’re also great story tellers. Octavia Butler, C J Cherryh, Ursula LeGuin, Sharon Shinn, Margaret Atwood – and so many more – have given me so much pleasure. I like many male writers too, such as Charles deLint, Corey Doctorow and William Gibson – the writers who have transcended the Boris covers of the old days and write modern, sometimes quirky, thinking novels involving both sexes as equal partners.
    All I can say is don’t give up and don’t pay attention to the misogynists rednecks out there. They don’t represent the majority of readers – only themselves.
    I write fanfic in a very specific field and I love it. It’s never taken seriously by outsiders. I don’t care. I’m doing what I love and fans love what I write. Ultimately, it’s the readers who matter.
    I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read any of your books. I’ll remedy that immediately. Keeping on top of the SF/F writers is now a major challenge, at least to me. Thank goodness for Twitter, which does keep me somewhat informed.

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  366. risa says:

    Thank you, Ann. Thank you so much for this. I openly admit I have been holding myself back from my own writing out of fear of receiving, and having to deal with in some manner, those kinds of hate mails you posted above. I didn’t want to have to deal with it, even if just to delete them; I still don’t. But it’s not right and even if I still don’t want the hate mails, even if I never get to the point of having an audience because of what I say, I have to speak out about the amount of horribleness that is pointed at women, people of color, people of different sexualities, people of alternate gender identities, and people of alternate physical capabilities.

    To Steve Stanley – you’ve missed the point. In your comment, you say “As professionals, you must accept the fact that good writing is not enough to be successful or earn the respect of your peers.” And you say “You also have to be willing to deal with repeated rejections (even after those first few sales), crushing criticisms, snarky comments, lousy to non-existent publisher assistance, and the need to endlessly schmooze/promote whatever you’re trying to sell.” And you say “And you need to recognize the unchanging fact that human beings are the most cantankerous, contemptible, infuriating, confusing, unpredictable critters yet put on God’s green earth.”

    First, I must point out that as a professional, those who have come before us *have* to let others coming into the scene speak. HAVE TO. This is part and parcel of being a professional in *any* organization of any kind. Just because writers “do it at home” does not give them a pass.

    Second, I find it astonishing that all of those comments you made, there is NO recognition that it is extremely common for people who are not straight white males to receive outright threats to a person’s *physical being* – as in, rape threats, death threats, etc. One doesn’t have to respect my writing or my taste in art and entertainment, but they DO have to respect my humanity. HAVE TO. This is non-negotiable. This is not just in the SFF world. No one should have to worry that they will get physically attacked if they go to a Con, and if there is no shifting of the general dismissive, silencing attitude in the SFF world, then others in the SFF world will continue to feel free to make their offhanded attempts to terrorize.

  367. Lenora Rose says:

    I used to sometimes wonder about the descriptions of sexism in conventions, because I haven’t encountered that degree of it myself. Surely people had to be exaggerating, or meeting ONE person who was a prick and casting blame on the lot? It’s the 21st century. Awesome female characters and female writers are OLD NEWS.

    Maybe it was the coincidence of writers, mostly female, that got me into genre. Maybe it was that I was encountering fandom in Canada (or visiting Minneapolis, which I’ve joked might as well be Canada). Maybe it’s that I am still a no-name fan more than I am either a known artist or writer, or not hot enough to target.

    Or maybe I was ignoring it. Or dismissing it as, like above, isolated incidents.*

    I’ve stopped. it’s too common. Too well documented. I’ve tripped over it all over the internet. It is, in a word, epidemic.

    The only good news in having to believe its really this bad is that now I speak out. I do what I can to support people who’ve faced it. And as silver linings go, that’s a pretty small one.

    * Keycon has had its issues on sexism, harrassment and worse arise. I’m delighted you enjoyed my home convention and felt welcomed, but we are not truly immune.

  368. EmmyRook says:

    I just read Linda Poitevin’s blog post concerning this post and one by Delilah S. Dawson. She linked both blog posts to hers. I was floored when I read your post. And I was also floored by the 4 email examples that you posted. I will copy and paste my post on Linda’s blog at the bottom of this post. And I will go one further. To the men who wrote those emails, when I picture you in my head, I see misogynistic and sad basement dwellers who cannot communicate with a woman and have no hopes of ever having a successful relationship with one. Perhaps THAT is why you are so hostile.

    My post on Linda’s blog:
    “I just read your post and went and read Ann’s post. It’s disheartening and sickening that in the year 2013, people are still so unenlightened and misogynistic. I read all of Ann’s 6 book Sirantha Jaxx series. It is without a doubt Sci-Fi. Sure, there are feelings and a little romance, and it’s from a woman’s perspective. But Sirantha is a kick-ass, take no prisoners, heroine. Anyone who bothered to read the series would know that. The romance is there, but it’s definitely not the main story line and the series is certainly not all sex and “filth” as one comment to her post stated. The worlds Sirantha, March and Vel live in are varied, complex and richly developed, as are the characters themselves. To discount her writing, or that of any female author, purely because “women can’t write….” makes me sad for the criticizer who is robbing himself and others from the experience of a truly great read. And as for the male authors who discount a woman’s work, well… Ann’s books sold out at the con, so I would daresay, sour grapes gentlemen????”

  369. Wow, I am really sorry. All of that is completely uncalled for and rude.
    Yeah, I promise – not all of us science fiction male writers are like that.
    I have several author friends who are women and write excellent science fiction books.
    I’ve been invited to several cons but never been able to go. Maybe I should be grateful for that fact.
    Keep on writing, Ann.

  370. Lisa Hertel says:

    Women writing hard SF is nothing new. In fact, that’s why I made Tanya Huff my Guest of Honor for Arisia 2014. Of course, Huff also writes fantasy and paranormal romance, but her milsf series–from a woman’s POV–is some of her best work.

  371. Susan Gourley says:

    Those cavemen are why hard-core scifi is doing so poorly. Most of the books in the scifi and fantasy aisles are written by women. Yes, we’re taking over the field because people want to read books with more plot than how big everyone’s missiles are or how fast their ships are.
    What a crazy thing that people writing so often about the future are so ignorant.

  372. T. M. Crone says:

    I’m am a female scifi writer as well, and the stumbling blocks are too numerous to count. One thing I’ve learned is that men don’t consider it scifi unless there are sex slaves in the story. Scifi, in my opinion, was ruined by men because they turned it into a male fantasy genre. But this will change, because the old men are dying, and female authors like Karen Miller (fantasy) and Nancy Kress are around. But the road has not been easy for then, I’m sure. The old men (and there are young ones too) who are critical of females writing scifi are insecure assholes.

  373. This is simply amazing to me. I haven’t been to a con for quite a few years, but when I was attending regularly (up until about 2006), I never encountered anything like what you describe. Yes, a few very stuck up Golden Agers, a few oddballs who like to hog the mike, but not the kind of rampant sexism you’re describing. I also write SF (as well as fantasy) and was on a few panels during my active con period. I hope this doesn’t mean that we’re backsliding, but it just might.

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  375. Connie says:

    When you touch a nerve and there is no logical argument people often resort to degrading the writer / speaker. Do not resort to their tactics. You keep being you and doing what you are doing and set an example for those who want to be and do what you are and what you do.

    Their bravado and bullying does not belittle you, but it does belittle them quite a bit.

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  379. Himani says:

    I am sorry you had to go through this. I found this post from Chuck Wendig (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/06/10/25-things-to-know-about-sexism-misogyny-in-writing-publishing/) and thought to myself, “Anne Aguirre? But her writing is amazing!” I think that the male SF writers you mention need to modernize; they’re living in by-gone days. I like the kind of science-fiction you write (which I do think is SF!), one that focuses on *characterization* and *plot* instead of techy speak. Actually, before you, the only other SF writers I could stomach on a frequent basis were William Gibson, and Philip K. Dick — all writers that I think focus more on characterization and plot. Gee, all those aren’t women. In fact, your Jax series had everything I love about sci-fi conveniently in one package. So don’t feel belittled or ashamed, you are an amazing writer and that’s all that matters! :)

  380. esselleaitch says:

    How interesting! In the comments from “men”, which you quote at the end of your post, Ms. Aguirre, two of them can’t even use the English language! I noted that one used “your” when he obviously meant “you’re” and another, “their” in place of “they’re” — ha. These three-legged slow-brainers, with wonderful exceptions like Mr. Wendig (whose posting of the problem brought me here as I see did the previous commenter as well), are non-evolved humans with way overdeveloped nincompoopery! Dinosaurs indeed. I am 75 years old and know from long sad experience exactly what you are talking about so keep fighting. We more chronologically enhanced female folk have your back!

  381. Brigid Q. says:

    I’m a young woman (23 y.o.) and lifetime SFF fan. Most of my interests were traditional “boy” activities, ranging from football and sports to science and politics. I went to an all-girls’ high school, so I’d learned about sexism, but I rarely had to deal with it outside of an academic setting, where I could outsmart them, or in public where I could just ignore them.

    That is, until I went to my first non-Harry Potter convention. I was 17 and a bright-eyed college freshman on a weekend trip with my boyfriend and his friends. The SFF community isn’t huge in Hawaii (not for Western fiction), and I was excited. But I was brushed up against, touched, cat-called, put down, asked out (or to bed, in one memorable instance), and outright groped by a man older than my father. I was so shocked by how I was being treated that I didn’t respond — I could barely look anyone in the eye — and the only reason the last one wasn’t punched by my boyfriend was because I was shaking and ready to cry.

    As an aspiring writer, that was heartbreaking. But when I got home, I looked at my bookshelf and the number of female writers on it, including you. I’d like you to know that just being there, just publishing as a woman has encouraged me to continue writing. The fact that now I know that you’re willing to stand up for yourself and speak out, that it was just as hard for you after being published as it was for me as a fan, helped. It makes it easier for me as both a writer and a fan to realize that I belong, too. Thank you so much.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that this was your introduction to fandom. I will never understand why some people think it’s all right to behave this way. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story so other women know they’re not alone.

      • Brigid Q. says:

        Strangely, being aware of it has made it easier once I got over the initial shock. Despite being top of my class and class president, I’ve dealt with sexism just because I’m a pretty girl who went to an all-girls’ school. Once the shock wore off in this new situation, I was able to deal with it better. I know that most guys aren’t like that; they just happen to be louder (as most jerks are).

      • This is a reply to Brigid Q. (For some reason, there is no “Reply” for her post.)

        If you only listen to the loud ones, you will get a distorted picture. I wrote about it briefly in my blog:
        http://genew.ca/2013/07/03/the-loud-ones/
        Some people just have to shout their views (to drown out others), and some do not care for much other than the run-of-the-herd “opinion”. This happens in areas other than the treatment of women, too.

  382. I’m so glad more and more women are speaking out like this, particularly in the SFF genre.

    I also found this post through Chuck Wendig’s blog, and as a new author myself, I can only hope that should I ever see any author treat people the way you’ve seen people treated, and been treated yourself, I have the courage to step up and say something.

  383. Stephanie N says:

    What the hell is wrong with people? Did someone forget to tell me that we were back in the 1950s? As a woman who writes science fiction, I find this appalling. Genres are constantly changing and evolving. What I see in this chauvinism is fear. Fear and ignorance. Don’t let it get you down. Keep fighting.

  384. I would totally get you coffee.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      Aw, thank you. I get coffee for people I like, too. It’s different if I offer because I want to. The point is not to treat someone as lesser and assume they’re there to serve.

  385. Wow. Just Wow.
    My story is not as publicly disheartening, but . . .
    I was unable to get my first book even read by an agent when I submitted it as “Alana Scudiere” – I was 100% rejected at the query letter. I decided to use AJ, and due to a clerical error, sent the exact same query back to the same agents with the new name. Not only did 20% of agents ask to read my book, one of the biggest agencies in NY picked up the phone and called me . . . from my query letter. The agent asked to speak to AJ and I said “You’ve got her.” He said, “Oh!” very clearly shocked. to which, I responded, “Come on, it’s 2007.” (Yes, I really said that to an agent who called me. I may need some mental filters.)
    My first offer of publication came from a house that wanted me to get two of the characters romantically involved so they could sell my magnetic-polar-reversal-science-fiction as ‘chick lit’ (their words.) I turned it down.
    I’m now published (5th book releases in July with a launch at ComicCon – would love to see you there, Ann). I haven’t had the same panel experiences you have, but I’m pretty forceful and won’t let people run over me. Ironically, fans come up to me all the time and ask why I didn’t get certain characters together or such.
    I’m so saddened by your experiences. Come with me, we’ll get on some panels together! Or if you want to toss around some ready comments to throw out, I always have those ready.

  386. Oh my! I’m so sorry Ann. People are miserable.

    I’ve read and absolutely LOVED your Jax series. I love the worlds and universe you created there. It’s sad that people feel that way. If they don’t want to read it, look past it. But, there are MANY people out there you have pulled into Science Fiction with your amazing books. That is a HUGE accomplishment, SF is one that people don’t get into because there is no emotion there. They should take note and learn from you.

    Your SF books have been major ice breakers for many to try SF and love it. I’m so glad you never gave up as I loved the series.

    THANK YOU!!! For writing them. They have been a pleasure to read and venture the worlds you created. And, I too, look forward to Perdition.

    **hugs** And keep going as we are all looking forward to the books. :)

  387. Carole-Ann says:

    I have been following this situation through various blogs, FB, and Twitter for a while now, and am amazed at the stories coming to light in this so-called age of equality. It is totally disheartening to know that discrimination of women still exists and I have a great respect for everyone who has called a halt to it!

    I was in a comparable situation in the mid 90’s, but there was nowhere to go, or no laws to prevent what happened to me. I worked in the newspaper industry (a male bastion, if ever there was one) when computerisation was introduced (this was early 1980’s). I had a maths degree, was familiar with the new ideology of a paper-less world, and I knew programming and it’s applications. I had this job of introducing computers into the workspace, and teaching the work-force how to use them. For 15 years I managed the amalgamation of newspapers and computers; from punched-tape input to top-of-the-range design using Apple-Macs; to being responsible for the introduction and use of a geographic database, to managing financial applications and design techniques – all for (what is called here in the UK) a Regional Newspaper.

    By 1995, I was nearly 49 years old, had taught most of the technical guys all they knew, and was more than competent if left in charge. I was made redundant (forced to leave my job) because I was nearing 50 years old, they were aiming for a younger work-force profile, and my services were no longer required (because they’d learnt everything they needed). I had no recourse but to accept the situation. There were no Equality laws in place, and nothing to protect my age or sex from being discriminated against.

    I was a single parent, with a school-age daughter, and two others at college, and I was out of work for 5 months. I consider myself very lucky that it was so short a time, and that I was able to land a new job in a new Government project. I had no help whatever from anyone, and there was nowhere to go to complain. But I coped. Just.

    Probably from naivety, I never complained or pressed for compensation – it just wasn’t “done”; and I couldn’t prove (legally) unfair dismissal. So, nowadays, I cheer and hoot and yell “Yeah!!” at anyone who has the guts and the will to shout out “No! Not fair!!”

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  389. Kay Camden says:

    I wish I could say, “All we have to do is wait for them to die out,” but it won’t be that easy. Men like this teach this stuff to their sons.

    I have a sci fi story inside me. If I ever finish my current series, maybe I’ll write it. I’m a woman and I’m indie–the boys club is gonna be all over me. I’ll get my middle finger prepared…

    Post those guys’ names. They need to be held accountable.

    Just got the sample to Grimspace. :)

  390. Charles Le Blanc says:

    Reading what you write brings me joy, the level of creativity and intelligence within the confines of the pages always leaves me wanting more. To undermine your ability by listening to the delusions of “nay sayers” hurts not just you but those inspired by you. I have read “Grimspace”, “Old Man’s War”, “I, robot”, “Honor Harrington” and countless more because I enjoy the worlds created therein. To even think that only one gender, has the depth to grasp, understand and write Sci-Fi, is as idiotic as sticking you finger in an electrical socket to see if there is power. “Wordsmithing” has been a concept that all sides of humanity can play at and a few master, but No one should ever say that the work of another is worthless when judged by who the writer is, for it only plays to show the depth of their own ignorance. Every writer brings unique perspective,to enrich and expand the genre, thus giving birth to more worlds and thoughts to explore.

    Please Ann never stop writing for within the worlds you create, I find an escape from the idiocy of reality.
    Thank you for all that you do! Keep Up the Awesome Work!!

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  392. Holy crap. Wow. I am so sorry that you had to endure what you did. It drives me nuts how misogynistic these people are. As the husband of a fantasy boardgame designer who has to deal with this stuff, I am disgusted. The SF genre needs to evolve to stay relevant, and I think the viewpoints yours represents are an important part of that. As the father of a geeky 7 year old girl who likes to share her opinions on all sorts of things, I hope we can make progress and nail the coffin shut on these antiquated modes of thinking. I appreciated the post.

  393. KL Klein says:

    Ann,
    Thank you for posting this, and not remaining silent.

    Don’t listen to the hate mail. Some people are just nasty.
    The world is changing around them, and there’s nothing they can do about it.
    They’ll do what they can to intimidate and harass, but ultimately they are going to lose.

    For what it’s worth, your books are awesome – I got hooked 30 pages into Grimspace, and read the rest of the series nonstop until I ran out of books.

  394. Nichole says:

    You have a right to speak up, I sincerely hope that the fan support outweighs the hate mail. There is no reason for it. You are a wonderful writer and you have given me science fiction to read that I enjoy. Keep writing, you are good at it. You have fans that will stand up for you. In fact, I haven’t found sci-fi I have enjoyed as much since The Rowan.

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  396. JP McLean says:

    Thanks for the education. I had no idea this level of discrimination still exists. It saddens me, but my eyes are open now.

  397. Heidi D. says:

    Well. I just found myself a new author to support…. Keep fighting. We all need people like you.

  398. Lisa Morton says:

    Thank you for your courage in offering up this great essay, Ann. This coming week I’ll be moderating a panel that will discuss women in the horror genre at the World Horror Convention in New Orleans, and I plan on offering up a few of your quotes. Of course we all know that women can’t write horror, either, so it should make for an interesting discussion.

  399. Matt Billock says:

    Sometimes we look around and see a progressive world where people are judged on their abilities and not their superficialities. Then other times we look around and are disgusted by the ignorance we see at every turn. Hopefully things keep changing for the better. Your treatment appalls me, and I hope the ignorant people who affected you so negatively are shown the error of their ways.

  400. Jamie says:

    I’ve never read any of your work (I ended up here by following a link on tumblr) but you better believe I’m going to start. And I would love to know the names of the men who belittled you so I that could be sure to avoid them entirely. Please know that for every man who tries to put you down, there are dozens of women who are inspired by your success. I am one of those women. Thank you for speaking up.

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  402. I’ve already replied to Ann’s post, so I won’t go over old ground here.

    What I will say is that both of your stories made something ugly rear up from the depths of my being.

    Violent and ugly.

    And I’m glad that I have the opportunity to vent to the ether, and amongst like-minded folk.

    The behaviour you describe is abhorrent, and has no place in the writing world (or any world for that matter) and I am at a loss as to how anyone with even a modicum of intellect could believe that such comments – even if offered off-handedly – could be considered reasonable.

    What is this? 1958?

    The power is given to these individuals not just by the industry, but by the people who read them thus raising them to demi-god status within this genre, but I suspect that the behaviour isn’t isolated to SFF.

    I applaud you for speaking up, and I challenge anyone who finds themselves at such conventions to call out these people on the spot.

    Tell them that it isn’t suitable, or even realistic to hold on to such antiquated beliefs.

    For those who are a little shy about speaking against the “authority” consider this tactic:
    When someone speaks over another when that other is answering a question, the response need be nothing more than “Thankyou for your points, but the question was directed at

    For those of a more vicious temperament – just tell the demi-god that they are out right wrong.

    As to the ugliness that grew in me on reading these posts, I have it under control, but even though I am a writer, and even though speaking out against such statements in public has historically been considered a death sentence to my own work… I choose not to subscribe to belief of power over truth.

    I would rather be right, and sell 1 book, than pander to the whims of the ignorant on the outside chance my booksales will allow me to buy acreage and a pretty house by supporting views that have no place in my world.

    *sidebar* the Main character in my book is not referred to once by name or gender. Not once. No pronoun, no specific action, nothing. 90% of my readers think that the narrator is a man.
    It might be because I am male – so the reader just thinks it is me.
    It might be because the narrator’s partner is female.

    I didn’t set out for the narrator to be one or the other – and left the reader to decide – the conversations regarding the sex of the Narrator would be funny if they didn’t drip with pre-programmed ideas on sex.

    This conversation happened between me, and a highly educated, evenly minded female friend of mine:
    “The narrator is a man”
    “Why?” I replied, used to the question of the narrator’s gender.
    “Well, his partner is female!”
    “But J**** you have lesbian friends, I’ve met them.”
    “Well, yes but… what about the scene when he is sitting on the porch with the policeman… drinking beer”
    “What girls don’t drink beer? On a porch? You drink beer, you BOUGHT us a beer at the pub”
    “But the policeman’s wife was inside making dinner…”
    “So the narrator, if female, should have been in the kitchen? Who are you? I want J**** back…”

    Pre-conceptions on what it is to be a female writer OR character seem to be ingrained. I’m not dissappointed that J**** thought that the Narrator is female… I *am* disappointed that J**** – someone I have joined in a rear guard action about women’s rights against an onslaught of drunken Male musings – chose THOSE reasons to think that the Narrator is female.

    Some of this stuff seems to be heavily programmed in – and it’s time for a re-boot.

    • Kay Camden says:

      A, I don’t think your friend J**** is programmed. I think anyone would reach that conclusion based on those reasons. When given certain facts about an unknown, we’re going to go with the most likely answer. It’s statistics.

      A, you’re awesome, by the way. I don’t understand why more men aren’t as angry as you are about this issue. I hope you have ten sons. We need more men like you in the world. With your help, we can win this. Women can’t win it alone.

      And this is what’s so complicated about gender stereotypes and women’s rights–to assume because a woman is in the kitchen making dinner is because that’s where she belongs, and she’s lesser because of that. Why can’t we just make dinner? Why can’t we still do traditional female roles and still be respected? Must we lose our femininity to be equal?

      • I think she is. Balance of probabilities is fine in general, but NOT in specific. If 90% of X’s are men, it is invalid to assume that an X is a man.

        In one office that I worked in, the office manager was a young woman. She effectively ran the business. The important point is how people react to that sort of situation. When I was told, I was fine with it. (Because of her position, although I had a different boss in a different-though-related business, I did have to take orders from her in certain areas. Yeah, so? It was not an issue for me.) She mentioned other people though who she encountered in the course of business who treated her disrepectfully.

  403. This kind of stuff sickens me, so thank you very much for speaking out. I’m also a female Sci-fi author and had no idea this was so much of a problem. Off to check out your books. I love sci-fi with relationships in!

  404. Chris Eisenberg says:

    I’m glad you are around Ann Aguirre. Keep fighting the good fight. As an avid male SF reader, all I can say is that any man who doesn’t want female SF writers is an ignoramus. Such writers as Connie Willis, Lois McMaster Bujold, Ursula K Le Guin are stars in the genre and must reads. SF, with all its forward thinking writers should be at the forefront of being gender neutral in terms of writers. Don’t let the bigots get you down.

  405. Tom Crepeau says:

    Hi, Ann. I’m loving Bronze Gods. I don’t remember GrimSpace, much, although I’ve read it. i had NO OBJECTIONS to it being about women, and having feelings in it. As a fan of Patricia Wrede, I pretty much expect female sci-fi and fantasy writes to include women, feelings, and even sex, FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE. That is, the sex that has emotions in it (my experiences with sex usually have emotions in it, and when they don’t, I don’t like it).

    Although I’m not a fan of GrimSpace, it’s more from a plot perspective. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup of tea. But I’m not indifferent to the SFWA mess, and I’m glad Scalzi wants it cleaned up.

    I’m a guy who likes what you’re saying here, about the SFWA stuff and about conventions. Thank you for speaking up. The dinosaurs aren’t actually extinct, but hopefully they are failing to reproduce, owing to a lack of respect for any females they might seek as sex and reproduction partners, so hopefully they will become so.

    Count me as a fan of what you’re saying here, as well as of your writing. Again, thank you.

    If we ever meet on a panel, feel free to ask me to get you coffee. I will get it for you, out of respect.

    tc

  406. Alicia W.B. says:

    “I don’t actually write SF because it has women, sex, and feelings in it.”

    Wow. Then I guess Battlestar Galactica was not sci-fi either. I’ve been misinterpreting the term “sci-fi” for many many years. But I’m a woman, so go figure.

    P.S. You rock. ;)

  407. Ann,

    I keep checking the date. Sincerely, I can’t believe that this is a thing. Now.

    I’m fortunate not to have encountered this. I write SFF as well as contemporary, but haven’t published the spec fic (yet) and because I’m on the YA side I think there’s a slightly different culture. I’d love to know if you’ve found things different with response to your YA work?

    Seriously, this is happening now? I can’t even.

    With appreciation,
    EKA

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      My experiences pertain to what I’ve seen personally, but I’ve found the YA community to be welcoming and dynamic. I have felt included from the beginning, found everyone willing to talk and share and recommend books. It’s a wholly different feel from the SFF fandom.

      • See, maybe why I’m so shocked is I’m not immersed in the SFF world. But I would think that even SFF fans, readers, and writers would be appalled by this. It’s unbelievable.

        If you’ll be at ALA in Chicago, I’ll be sure to come say hi in person, and give you a high-five.

        xEKA

  408. Susan Lohrer says:

    Ann,

    I’m stupefied that anyone could treat anyone with zero respect. Shame on them! And I’m adding your books to my TBR list because I like my SF with women, feelings, etc. in it.

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  410. The Imp says:

    As someone who has never read your work before (I was sent to your blog by Gennita Low), I’m appalled that this kind of thing is going on, but sadly not surprised. I’ve spent my fair share of time at Cons where women are treated so badly I mostly want to take my steel toed boots and… well, you know… :)

    Anyway, I just went and purchased Grimspace. I can’t wait to read it! And I hope you get the recognition you deserve for standing up and saying “enough!”

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  412. Kaylie Austen says:

    Umm…wow. I’m appalled, speechless, and irate. Not because I’m a woman, or because I like to both read and write sf, but because I’m a human who can’t tolerate such crude, unwarranted, and tactless displays of intolerance and prejudices. If people don’t like your writing, then so be it, but it should never be based on the author’s background, gender or otherwise. The work should speak for itself, and quite frankly, your work is exceptional. It has heart, plot, and plausible imagination. It isn’t testosterone packed into pages, more than foul-mouthed characters and heartless story lines. That is NOT to bash male sf writers, but give us a break. A good writer is a good writer. This is like saying women aren’t smart enough to have careers, dedicated enough to attend college, connected enough to vote, worth enough to write anything other than romance. In any case, people should be nicer. Don’t like something? Don’t read it. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I had no idea this is how it is out there. Shameful, and regression is not a becoming value in our society. I admire your strength.

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  414. Thank you for sharing your experience, unfortunate as it is. It was one of the reasons I spoke up on my own blog about the issue (in my own rambling, awkward way).

  415. Jeroen says:

    Hey Ann,

    I’m the SF/Fantasy buyer for an English language bookstore in the Netherlands, and I just wanted to let you know that you’re a continual bestseller here, you have plenty of fans and I always make sure to stock all your books (Corine Solomon, Sirantha Jax, Razorland; all of ‘em). You write what people want to read, which is a gift, and I wish you all the best.

    Jeroen (M)

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  418. John Orford says:

    “I’ve gotten an overwhelming number of emails, thanking me for being brave because now this woman has the courage to tell her own story or to stand up for herself and demand better treatment.”
    Now you have one more. I’m 81, the archetype white middle-class male and I am angry with you and for you and for all women. Keep fighting and keep shouting.

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  421. Amy Sisson says:

    Thanks, Ann, for this post. I think you’re writing terrific SF.

  422. Tina Moss says:

    I’m so sorry for your experiences. I’m appalled this boys’ club attitude even exists. It’s 2013. Those emails are horrific. Hugs to you. Be strong. And keep doing what you do.

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  424. Sparkie says:

    Having been introduced to you, Ann, just recently, but dwelling within the SF world for a very long time, I can understand and sympathize with your battle. Particularly because, as an underage female, I’m forced to live under the restrictions of my father, who as I’ve grown older, is seemingly stuck in the 1950’s. I have an older brother and it has been recently obvious to see the natural sexism my father enforced upon his family. My mother is not allowed to work, I am not allowed to work, my sister is not allowed to work. My brother has had a job since he was sixteen. I am not allowed to curse, argue back, or in anyway disrespect my father. I have personally heard my brother call my mother a cunt. I’m not allowed to wear tank tops or shorts above my knees, even in the privacy of my bed.

    If this sort of extreme sexism is happening in my very little world, I cannot imagine how hard and frightening in must be to move yourself into a male dominated career such as that. And I really just wanted you to know, Ann, that reading your books is a refreshing and welcome change to the other SF books. I have noticed, (how could you not) that most SF books contain very few female protagonists who cover themselves appropriately for their desired course in life. Most stories have female sex objects, evil women, or “strong” female characters who despite being an rare alien, warrior queen, army commander, seem to need and rely on the male characters. Your books, however, describe positive female sexuality, a real female with needs and desires, who can stand up when she needs to, and thinks as complexly and violently as I do, and it is with my deepest emotions that I say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving me ‘her’, for that character who is real to me, who could be me, who makes me feel like I have a chance to compete with my brother, who makes me think that yes, right now it sucks, but very soon, I’ll be able to dress/act/think how I want, without the constraints and opinions of a man.”

    So I guess I have to say, that even if you are tried and sick, please, please keep writing. Because you’ve given me hope for a better future. Thank you so much for what you do, and for fighting for us. Thank you for being who you are. Thank you.

    • Steve Stanley says:

      Sparkle, there are a lot of s-f online groups out there, probably including some who are fans of your favorite author(s). If you haven’t already done so, look them up. You are likely to find people there who enjoy some of the same things you do and understand the problems you have. If you are able to get out and attend meetings, there may be an s-f club in your area, one where members get together to discuss their interests, socialize, and engage in activities like movie nights, readings, or book drives. Many schools have them. For a lot of fans, conventions are something to look forward to – a day, a weekend, or longer to immerse yourself in an event where just about everyone attending is there to have a good time and you can take on whatever identity you choose for the duration. Of course, cons are also a place to meet authors, artists, and other creative types whose works you’ve seen elsewhere. They can be a lot of fun, particularly if you take part with friends.

      I know there’s a fair chance that none of this is news to you. But either way, I hope you will continue to enjoy the imaginative worlds s-f offers and, perhaps, take the chance to become more involved in the field.

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  428. Anna! says:

    Keep on! There’s room in SF for female authors, and room in chick lit for a hard-edged guy take. I’ll support anyone who’s working hard on developing in their chosen genre!

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  430. PK Hrezo says:

    Unbelievable. You’d think we were living in the 60s like you said. Its def a generational gap and I guarantee the X and Y gen of writers do not agree with this mentality. I write SFR as well and there are other female writers like us blossoming all over the world. Stand your ground, Anna! We’re all behind you cheering you on!!! Start a Facebook page!

  431. Maggie Brinkley says:

    Sitting here thoroughly angry and disgusted at how you’ve been treated.

    I discovered SF in 1969 (aged 15) when I read ‘Diary of a Spacewoman’ by Naomi Mitchison. It’s still one of the best, most challenging SF novels I’ve ever read. The neanderthals who treated you so badly have absolutely no idea of the history of SF and the amazing contributions that women – and people of Colour, though that’s another argument – have made over the decades. Those people are total twits, and you are amazing. Thank you for speaking out! x

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  434. Found something astonishing that would not have made an impression except for Ann Aguirre’s post here: this whole anti-SFR attitude that’s erupted may have nothing to do with SFR at all!

    I read a newspaper article about ONLINE HATE SPEECH that cited this book, and indicated that a lot of this hatespeech (such as the emails Ann got as splashback when she posted this blog) may originate with teenagers.

    That article cited this book, titled “Viral Hate” so I looked it up on amazon (paper and ebook)
    http://www.amazon.com/Viral-Hate-Containing-Internet-ebook/dp/B00BRALE20/

    It examines what we can do about hatespeech going viral on the internet. Blurb says:
    Emboldened by anonymity, individuals and organizations from both left and right are freely spewing hateful vitriol on the Internet without worrying about repercussions. Lies, bullying, conspiracy theories, bigoted and racist rants, and calls for violence targeting the most vulnerable circulate openly on the web. And thanks to the guarantees of the First Amendment and the borderless nature of the Internet, governing bodies are largely helpless to control this massive assault on human dignity and safety. Abe Foxman and Christopher Wolf expose the threat that this unregulated flow of bigotry poses to the world. They explore how social media companies like Facebook and YouTube, as well as search engine giant Google, are struggling to reconcile the demands of business with freedom of speech and the disturbing threat posed by today’s purveyors of hate. And they explain the best tools available to citizens, parents, educators, law enforcement officers, and policy makers to protect the twin values of transparency and responsibility. As Foxman and Wolf show, only an aroused and engaged citizenry can stop the hate contagion before it spirals out of control—with potentially disastrous results.

    Lots of 1-star (hate it) reviews!

    Maybe Ann has tapped into something much bigger than just the world of fiction writing?

  435. Pim Leepet says:

    Great article about some terrible stuff. It’s shameful that you experienced this kind of thing, and even worse that more people are defending the jerks at the conventions. Thanks for speaking out. I’m looking forward to reading the book, cause it sounds pretty good. I’m glad you’re not going to let this stuff bring you down too much.

    All the best PimLp

  436. Ian says:

    Some people are idiots. Going to read Grimspace now.

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  440. Maya Missani says:

    Very late to this thread, found it after stumbling onto more recent Shattersnipe post following Jemisin speech –
    though I’m late and not sure you’re reading comments anymore, I want to add my thanks to you for posting because it reminds me that it is not cool to just let things lie when unacceptable sentiments are expressed because it is easier, or because of a wish to to stand out negatively somehow. And it doesn’t have to be in a “big” way, as you have had the courage to do here, it can be in little ways, too. Something as small as when I go to my book club, and being the only non-fully Caucasian person there, offering a comment now and again that offers a bit of a different view or experience than other attendees may have had.

    Being a parent of boys, I’m also concerned about preventing them developing into the “Girlie-Coffee” type men you’ve described. I think it needs some awareness of what it is they are reading, and then talking to them about it (whether or not they feel I’ve forced that talk upon them). My 16 y.o. boy was reading Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ for school, a book which was my own first introduction to scifi as a teen and which I’d loved, having at that time missed what was now at this later date on re-reading it stunningly obvious to me, but which my boy also missed: the almost complete absence of female characters. There is one off-page young, harem-type woman (IIRC) as well as one on-page planetary queen type character (with extremely few lines and no agency, unless you count irritating her ruler husband as being active), as well as the very worst thing – a single reference to the wives and families of the Foundation scientists having to be moved off planet. Ergo: ALL the scientists, in this distant futuristic world, were men.

    I pointed this ludicrousness out to my boy, who then said “But did that make any difference to the story?” Whereupon I may, briefly, have flipped out on him, about picturing the crowd scenes in his mind of being all populated only by males, about how every single character who comes up with a strategy or makes a decision or gets to be smart or heroic etc. etc. I hope he reads future scifi novels – including by women – with a little more critical analysis now.

    • You overstate the case. Bayta Darell stopped the Mule! Arkady Darell had an active role (and was later a writer per the Encyclopedia Galactica). Callia was an agent of the Second Foundation.

      BUT, I sigh, while you did miss a bit, there was not much to miss, and yes, there were no women scientists. It was somewhat better in later Foundation books.

  441. I’m a new writer graduating with her MFA next month. Thank you so much for this post–it warns me about what’s to come and makes me stronger knowing you’re out there.

  442. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of your work. I will make a point of picking it up now. Keep fighting the good fight for all of us. Sometimes it feels like the more things change, the more they stay the same. But, never give up. We all know the male suppression of women, in whatever form, is wrong on so many levels.

  443. Ann Aguirre says:

    I am still reading comments, yes. Thanks for your continued support.

  444. Colleen says:

    I have to say I am appalled at the way you’ve been treated. And the emails you received are disgusting. I have interacted with many authors both in person and through social media (I write horror book reviews as well as articles and essays on horror films) and I have never been treated as anything less than in a respectful manner. I know a lot of female horror writers who are very successful. I don’t think the misogyny exists in the horror genre as it does in the SF genre, but I could be wrong. I’m glad you’re sharing your story and not just sitting down and shutting up. More women need to be brave enough to come forward with their stories so this kind of attitude can come to an end.

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  448. Maggie Amada says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve started writing urban fantasy and all I would like to say is screw them and the spaceship they rode in on. Please keep writing. A writer is a person with a unique perspective, whether male or female. If they can’t see that, then they’re missing out on a whole lot of wonderful perspectives. I enjoy your work and the work of so many other females in SF&F.

  449. Justin Howard says:

    I haven’t experienced you writing first hand yet. I came by this blog by way of a post Karina Cooper wrote and Chuck Wendig posted to his Goodreads blog. Being a guy a am painfully aware of sexism, not by being a victim of it mind you, but seeing it and the offending males in my proximity assuming my tacit approval simply because I am male. I did not realize that it was so rampant in the culture that I hold dear. I have been very proud of being a geek for a very long time now, though after reading the aforementioned blog post and all the subsequent blog posts linked in it, I’m not so very proud of the culture that I loved because I held belief that it, unlike all other subcultures, was the most forward thinking, progressive, and accepting of all the other groups. I was very wrong, and now I am very sad.

  450. @Justin Howard
    Culture is always a WIP – a work-in-progress. This feedback on how we’re doing (not so well) is the most valuable thing to come out of the entire flap here.

    I do seriously suggest you read Ann Aguirre and Gini Koch, then talk about those novels where you can make the point.

    Also let people know how many of the originators of Science Fiction were women writing under male bylines (or initials), and readers didn’t know. How many writers of Romance were men writing under female bylines and readers didn’t know (or care). Good writing is good writing! Ann Aguirre is one of the best.

  451. Justin Howard says:

    @Jacqueline Lichtenberg Thanks for the suggestions. I added them to my to-read shelf on goodreads. I noticed both got at least a 3 star rating from Felecia Day, whom I adore.

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  455. Hermgirl says:

    Greetings, Ann:

    I’ve never heard of you before, I was directed here by a post in Publisher’s Weekly.

    I am a feminist, I am a VORACIOUS reader that loves SF, and now I’m going to grab up every book of yours that I can get my hands on, and tell others to do the same.

    And now, could you tell me how to pronounce your name, so that when I get that job in the bookstore that I’m hoping for, I can get it right when I help customers find your books?

    Good luck to you, and DON’T EVER SIT DOWN!!!

    Hermgirl

  456. Lisa says:

    I am so sorry you have experienced these things. Although I haven’t read your work, I went out to Amazon and ordered a copy of your book because it sounds like great fun! I hope to run into you at a convention where things have changed!

  457. Wayne Borean says:

    This needs to be addressed. By going public, you did the best think possible Anna. You’ve got a lot of support.

    And the insects don’t like the light. Let’s shine more on them.

    Wayne

  458. Alex Garcia says:

    Ann,

    As a cosplayer, I have several female friends that encounter these same issues. As a result, we often have a pack of bigger cosplayers ready to police things up if a woman calls for help. So not all scifi people are like this. Please don’t feel afraid to speak up.

    PS: I haven’t read your books before so I decided to pick up a copy from Amazon for my Kindle.

  459. perlhaqr says:

    First off, prefacing by saying that I am absolutely not saying “this doesn’t happen” or anything of the sort.

    That said, I’m a 36 year old male SF&F fan and it would have never occurred to me to dismiss an author just for being female. Some of the very first SF&F authors I ever got into were female (Margaret Weis on the Dragonlance front, Anne McCaffery, Ursula K. LeGuin) and the very idea of judging a book by the gender of the author rather than, well, the content just boggles my damn mind.

    As for the notion that male-written Hard SF doesn’t have sex in it, um, hello? Have these people never heard of Ringworld?

  460. Jean Johnson says:

    Wow, I…wow. I hadn’t realized how lucky I’ve been, so far. Ann, I am so sorry you have received those “comments”…which aren’t comments, they’re attacks, and have no place in a polite discussion, even a disagreement. And I am very sorry you had such bad experiences on panels as a female. Please, come to Norwescon, it’s always Easter weekend. I know Seattle’s a bit far away, but the concom have a strong anti-harrassment policy, it’s always well-run (even the year that a water pipe broke over Hospitality), and the people are in general friendly and courteous to all.

    I’ve only had one panel so far where the gentleman (an older, gray-haired fellow) more or less tried to monopolize the conversation away from the other 3, all women, who were on the panel…but to be fair, I’ve also been on a panel where an older woman tried to do the same thing…and I’m guilty of talking a lot myself, though I try to let others have their fair share. But I haven’t been faced with being ignored or dismissed all that much. I guess possibly because I’m not in the least bit afraid of public speaking. (I started out very shy as a young teen, but my best friend was even more shy, so she made me do all the talking, lol; I also did a lot of public performances in singing, and eventually in storytelling, which eventually became panel appearances…)

    I have had to face a bit of discrimination as a female science fiction writer–specifically as a female writer of military science fiction–but so far, it’s mostly been because I first got published as a romance author. (In specific, fantasy/paranormal romances with as much actual fantasy plot in them as erotic romance.) I guess I’d always assumed that it’s worse for an author to go from romance to science fiction or fantasy because of the “stigma” of being “just a fluffy romance author” always clinging to a person…but from what I’ve been reading after the SFWA explosion, I guess that, compared to other women writers, I had a modicum of a shield: “I Am Already A Published Author (Even If It’s In Romance)”…and multiple national bestsellers at that.

    I still get some flak for it, but nobody has actually ever threatened me with a cocking. …Then again, as an erotic romance author, they may be a bit too intimidated to suggest such a thing to me, because of the fear that I will grade them on their efforts…and I WILL grade them, with a Russian Judge flair to said grading…

    No, the more I read, the more I realize what I got was a mild version of not being taken seriously as a military science fiction author because I write “fluffy romances” that “aren’t serious.” And it did help, I think, that straight out the gate my first military SF novel was a PK Dick nominee. Those few who did try to dismiss me after that point, I just said, “My romances are national bestsellers, and so are my military SF novels. On top of that, my debut SF was a PK Dick nominee, one of the top 7 scifi novels in 2011 out of the hundreds that were submitted,” with a silently implied, “…So?” tacked on at the end.

    The more I think about it, the more I think my self-confidence and my willingness to be up-front about the fact that I do write bestsellers in both categories has helped shut down all that nonsense. It’s clear you write bestsellers, too. It’s clear you’re a good writer, and a good person. Know your value as a writer. Cherish it. Cuddlehug it, and stand firm in the face of those who try to belittle it. You have great things to bring to any panel you’re interested in speaking on, because you know you have experience, wisdom, and “learn from my mistakes” moments to share with those who want to hear them.

    Like David Brin, there will be lots of people in that audience who want to hear YOU talk. Specifically you, Ann Aguirre. In fact, there will be a percentage who will attend just because they will want to hear someone NEW talking on the topic at hand, someone who can bring in a fresh perspective. That’s you. A simple, polite reminder may be enough to assert your right to be there: “Pardon me, but some of these people came to this panel to hear ME speak, as well as to hear you, Please be courteous while I share my own experiences and give my answers to their questions. Thank you for your cooperation.”

    And if it’s a problem of a broken microphone, so long as the room isn’t ballroom huge in size, then just tighten up your stomach muscles and speak strongly. (As opposed to shouting/yellling.) I’ve actually been at a panel where the microphone at my end of the table was broken, but was able to be heard clearly all the way to the back of the large room I was in. (I’m also mildly microphone-phobic, myself, but I can use one, and I am equally accustomed to speaking and being heard clearly in situations where there aren’t any.)

    If you’re not accustomed to public speaking, if you’re not comfortable doing it, then I suggest looking around for any local chapters of Toastmasters International. (There are half a dozen within or near Mexico City, for example.) Vocal lessons may also help, and of course picking on friends and family to hold panel-style Q&A practice sessions will help quite a lot.

    Don’t let the negative flaming commenters stop you from being proud of your skills, experiences, and enthusiasm as a writer. Don’t even let them slow you down. And definitely, DEFINITELY, do not let them stop you from writing. You sold all 50 copies of Grimdark at a convention before you even had your autographing session? By god, girlfriend, don’t you let anybody stop you from attending more conventions. (And do consider if Norwescon is in your budget, or maybe going to Worldcon in San Antonio, TX this year; I’d love to meet you in person!)

  461. I had an unusual thing happen to me in 7th grade – an English teacher turned me on to SF. Unusual in that she didn’t consider it trash. In 10th grade, I had a teacher openly belittle me in class for turning in a book report on Stranger in a Strange Land.

    To think that such authors as Cherryh, Bradley and Norton had to put up with the behavior you describe is appalling.

    I don’t read a lot of SF anymore. I don’t find a lot that I really like. But I have read Grimspace, and enjoy Linnea Sinclair and Melissa Scott. It never occurred to me to discriminate on the basis of the gender of the author. But I do know that many people do.

    As a man who writes urban fantasy with female protagonists (something I’ve never admitted in public before), I discovered that reviewers and bloggers naturally assume that I’m a woman. Obviously a man could never successfully write a female character. I’ve received blatant hints that women who loved my books wouldn’t have picked them up if they knew I didn’t share their gender. Urban fantasy and PNR are for women, for God’s sake! Other than Jim Butcher (who knows his place and writes a male character), the genre is devoid of male writers. The funny thing is that women authors are allowed to write male characters.

    We would like to think that we live in a civilized society. As long as the majority of people are considered second class citizens, and white males are considered ordained by God, we can’t claim civilization. At best, we are still semi-intelligent apes.

    Good luck, Anne. I’ll continue to disregard gender when deciding what to read, and who to listen to. Perhaps a few generations from now we’ll emerge from the dark ages.

  462. Kay Camden says:

    BR, I agree with you. I often wonder why we women can write male characters (and read male characters written by women) and not think twice, yet we get all uptight about men writing female characters. I think we’re just sensitive. It’s a touchy subject. And we have trust issues. We’re just kind of sick of being misrepresented by men and male dominated media. We need to get over it. Easier said than done, though.

    And the funniest thing–I have read some really awful portrayals of men by female writers. And often I can’t figure out if it was done on purpose (as in, it’s fiction, so yeah, wouldn’t it be great if men said that/did that/didn’t do that), or if it’s just bad writing and we get away with it because it seems pretty harmless. But then I see YET ANOTHER ridiculous portrayal of a woman by a male writer and I’m like here we go again…

    • Matthew_Lane says:

      “I often wonder why we women can write male characters (and read male characters written by women) and not think twice, yet we get all uptight about men writing female characters. I think we’re just sensitive.”

      Who is this “we” you speak of? The only people who are making a big deal about it, heck the only people who appear to care at all, are the very people women who spend so much time complaining about some sort of assumed sexism in the industry.

      I personally think this is a case of “we hate in others traits we see in ourselves.” The very people inventing sexism to complain about are the very people who are in fact sexist: They invent sexism in others because they see it in themselves & assume that everyone else must be exactly like themselves.

      I mean just look at how the author in question tried to turn “I watched a respected male SF author get sloppy drunk and make women uncomfortable, fans and writers alike. I was one of them” into sexism.

      Talk about a serious case of projection: The fact is there is not this vast conspiracy of institutionalised sexism in the publishing industry. An all this inventing of super double secret sexism by particular authors do is poison the well, making it harder for up and coming female authors, who have been feed a steady diet of sexism hysteria by a particular subset of people who see sexism every where they look, except for the one place its present… In the mirror.

  463. SteinUlf says:

    Frankly, I don’t ususally pay attention to the gender of the author of a book I’m reading. Okay, my favorite author (Heinlein) is a guy. Whoopie-do. I don’t care. I like what he writes. I’ll read anything I think is good. In fact, after reading a review of Grimspace, I think I want to read that now.

    No matter where you go, you will find assholes. Male, female, other, whatever. Ignore them. To be honest, I am sick of the gender issue. I cannot conceive of why it should matter. I’m not going to appologize for my gender. Like I said, its an issue of being an asshat, not a guy. Screw this “token female” crap. Does that then give us the token rocket scienteist, the token grunt, then token Fed (NASA)? Bugger it all. You’re a writer. Write.

  464. I have not read any of your work. I do not know whether I would like it. BUT I do know that there are a number of female authors who I think write very good stuff. Whether an author is male or female is of little consequence to me.

    I find it somewhat amusing looking for books in a new-to-me bookstore, because who knows where a given author’s work will be shelved? It could be SFF or maybe it is romance. As a 52-year-old male, it was just a bit offputting, but I blew through. I have found that I enjoy some of that so-called “fluffy” romance stuff; I have found a bunch with excellent characters and situations. Charlaine Harris creates wonderful, female characters. Ilona Andrews (and her husband) have the Kate series and The Edge series; I have no idea how they divvy up the writing. Nor do I particularly care. Good stuff.

    I remember my first reading of Patricia Wrede’s “Magic and Malice”. It is an omnibus of “Mairelon the Magician” and “Magician’s Ward”. I got partway into “Magician’s Ward” and realised that I was reading a Regency romance. I was greatly amused. I kept reading. It was great. The story is excellent.

    Misgynism also strikes in the computer field with such garbage as “Women can’t program.” I have no patience for this sort of nonsense in any area.

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  466. perlhaqr says:

    Dude, fuck those people!

    I just read Grimspace, and it’s great.

    I don’t want to say “you can’t tell it was written by a woman” because that makes it sound like having been written by a woman is a bad thing, and really what I’m trying to convey is… it doesn’t matter. It’s just a great story. Whether it was written by a man, a woman, or a slider. ;)

  467. Rochelle says:

    Thanks for writing about your experience. I get so tired of people telling me this kind of thing doesn’t happen any more. I’m not a writer, I don’t even work in a male dominated field, I haven’t had this experience in front of a large number of people. But there have been many times when I have called a meeting and then been treated as the coffee girl/assistant by the men who don’t know me until a man who does know me comes in and validates my authority. Every time I share my experience there is always one person who starts assuring me that it has nothing to do with my gender. I won’t go on a rant. Thank you again for sharing your experience. And thank you for talking about the hate mail. Talking honestly about unpleasant things is the first step in fixing them. And fixing them is a long road full of pot holes.

  468. Maggie says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. Keep on speaking out!

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  470. Chained Divinity says:

    Well, that seems pretty screwed up, on the face of it.

    I do have to wonder, though, if the writers were targeting you because you were female, or targeting you because you were new and this is just sort of a rite of passage in the sci-fi community. A hazing ritual, sort of.

  471. Cheryl C. says:

    The smaller the mind, the louder they scream.

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  474. Monika H says:

    I just wanted to say that this post made me go out and buy your books, Ms. Aguirre. Thank you for speaking up and telling the misogynists in SF that female authors in SF are here to stay and will not shut up.

  475. I just wrote a post of my own about this– I was told to write my science fiction under a gender-neutral pen name. But I won’t do it.

    I wanted to tell you I picked up Book 1 of Grimspace the other day and it pulled me in immediately. I can’t wait to finish my revisions so I can dive into your story. I have a feeling I’ve finally found the science fiction book series I’ve been searching for. ;)

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  477. Meeta Kaur says:

    Dear Ann. I hope you find sister SF writers, and start hosting your own panels and conferences. I encourage you to contact Mills College. I am an alumna there. They’d love to hear from you. I don’t know that they can afford you, but I really do hope you find your tribe. I am starting out in this genre. And I am here to support as many sister writers as possible.

    Love and light.
    Meeta Kaur

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  480. Daiv says:

    No time to comment. Too busy buying Grimspace from BN.com
    Thank you for the lead on what looks to be a really cool book.
    Oh, and (sincerely) I am sorry that you were treated that way. I find such behavior reprehensible, and unacceptable.

  481. Just bought GRIMSPACE.

    Because that’s how we, readers and writers can make a difference. And now I’m off to write more stories, including SF.

  482. Glen Spratt says:

    An utterly fascinating read. It worries me to see that women writers may not have their voices heard in the genre’s community. It’s a shame that the words on a page are disregarded by people because of gender, skin tone, sexuality etc. It’s ironic that people are giving you grief over having a female protagonist with female thoughts and desires (I’m not going to deign to address the sexism directed at you by other authors. It’s repugnant behaviour), when one of the biggest authors in SFF has a female protagonist. Some of the biggest names in the genre, are women: Anne McCaffrey, Trudi Canavan, Gail Z. Martin, J. K. Rowling, and still this sort of narrow minded bigotry exists.
    I’m male, so I can’t quite relate, but I can empathise.

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  484. Kearin says:

    The world changes, and the men will have to roll with the punches. I used to love SF. I then read a few more books, and then even more; quickly realizing that women with power, emotions, thoughts and ambitions of their own… rarely existed. After putting SF aside for many years, *you* made me love it once more. Sirantha has been an inspiration to me and a wonderful change to the very male driven world of SF. I desperately hope that you will continue in the SF world; they will be forced to make room – your books are amazing. <3

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  486. Was the most popular Sci-Fi series of the 70s/80s? (and so on. There are a lot of books in that realm.)
    Dragonriders of Pern, written by Anne McCaffrey and enjoyed by millions.
    That isn’t to say that Grimspace is bad. I’ve read and enjoyed that book.
    Please continue to create great stories.

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