|How to suppress women's criticism -- After Eastercon
||[Apr. 11th, 2007|12:39 am]
The panel was entitled 'Is UK SF overly masculine?' The discussion was going well, some interesting thoughts had come forth. mevennen for instance suggesting that for many women, and he cited her own mother, writing is what matters rather than being published. zarabee and coalescent contributed stats that showed the gender balance in readers and submissions is probably not as skewed as it used to be. People talked about the other pressures on women writers, such as motherhood etc, the case of men pretending to be women to enter an all-woman anthology also raised keen and thoughtful questions and then fjm tried to ask a question.
Up to this point the moderator John Richards had done a reasonable job of pointing out who was next in terms of audience comments, but after indicating that fjm would be next he then bypassed her when her turn came. So she spoke up anyway.
Gollancz' Jo Fletcher was one of the panellists and the question highlighted the lack of women on the forthcoming Gollancz-published Future Masters list. The explanation given was that the selection was made purely on the basis of previous sales and that had they been able to chose ten titles rather than eight then White Queen would have made the list. Its a feeble defence, and fjm wanted to respond. Unfortunately John Richards wanted to exert his masculinity at this point.
"That question has been answered" he thundered, "we're moving on to the next one." I know I wasn't the only one to find this rude and I objected loudly. 'No, it hasn't been answered actually. That explanation doesn't stand up, its a self-fulfilling prophecy because next time around those male authors sales have already had an advantage so their sales will be higher again.' This time Jo brushed John aside to answer both questions. I don't accept her argument that the next promotion will use different criteria and thus may incorporate women authors because that could have been done this time, or last time, or the time before in her tenure as one of the more powerful women in UK SF publishing. And I'm not convinced by her claim that she fought hard to get Gwyneth Jones on the list for the same reason. At least she had the good grace to look embarassed at John Richards' boorish manner.
And actually i felt a little uncomfortable too, because I was aware that fjm had been trying to speak and I had shouted over her. It may have been as an ally but was I not as guilty as John Richards in silencing her? She thanked me after the panel but I tried to apologise and I'm still not sure about this.
Later in the bar I overheard John Richards complain to a group of well-known fans about this incident, as though his panel had been hijacked and he had done nothing wrong but manfully salvaged the discussion. I regret not tackling him there and then on this arrogance.torque_control Niall Harrison called the moderation of this panel inept and I thought about it again. Yes, it was for other reasons than the above. Fletcher and mevennen had plenty to say but the other female member of the panel Jaine Fenn was barely acknowledged by Richards, he failed to draw her into the discussion at all and I'm not sure if she saidf much at all from memory. I also noted that on a couple of occasions male audience members were acknowledged by name (Conor Kostick for one) but I don't think fjm (who is hardly unknown) was. For me Niall is being kind, inept allows for good intentions badly handled, but John Richards' remarks in the bar make me think this was deliberate and offensive and it is totally inacceptable behaviour.
In his comments on
A final note: John Richards isn't on my LJ friends list but if anyone wants to show him this please do.