It appears that this month's SpecFic Floozy column touched a nerve. Good, says I. Not because I like to irritate people (although it is a bonus) but because it might provide an opportunity for discussion about the Hugo nomination process.
The full letter, which I'm about to excerpt from, is linked here. Quotes are in itals. Jessa's intro is blue. My response is in plain type.
An anonymous reader responds to this month's Spec Fic Floozy column:
It's always so heartening when a reader has enough courage to put his or her name with his or her convictions.
In her recent column about the Hugo awards, Adrienne Martini described the committee of this year's Worldcon as "bastards" because she didn't like the list of nominees.... The Hugos are a popular vote award, with thousands of people eligible to vote each year, and anyone allowed to join them. If anyone deserves to be the target of Ms. Martini's ire it is the voters, not the Worldcon committee.
This is the one thing in the column that I would have written differently. Contrary to Anon's belief, I do know how the Hugo process works and should have done a more accurate job of explaining it to the readers of my column.
So I'll do so now:
The Hugos nominations are made by the paid members of that year's WorldCon. Anyone who ponies up $50 can nominate and vote. The $50 fee is the smallest amount one can pay and still be franchised.
There are lots of good and noble reasons for the fee, which Jed Hartman and others explain for all. Hartman also points out that even of those who have paid for membership to any given WorldCon can actually be bothered to nominate and vote on the Hugos, which says more about the electorate and their belief in the process than I possibly could.
Hartman also suggests that anyone who is unwilling to pay $50 to be involved with the process should, in essence, not bitch about it. And that seems to be the largest issue that Anonymous has with my column -- that I shouldn't complain because I didn't participate.
In a way, Anonymous is correct. I didn't participate in the process. If I had an extra $50 floating around, which is unusual, I'd spend it on books rather than use it to buy my way into an organization whose most vocal constituents -- the ones who actually vote -- have made it pretty clear that as a group they don't give a damn about my voice.
(Or, in some instances, tacitly agrees that my gender is still OK to grope if you are a wacky old man. I'm not saying that I want a fruit basket or any other special privileges -- but the Hugo voters and ceremony attendees haven't really created a gender-neutral environment, despite their protests to the contrary.)
While there are organizations like Broad Universe whose raison d'etre is to increase awareness, mentor women, etc., the Hugos are still the most public face that the genre has. For many reasons, that face is mostly white and male. And, incidentally, is able to buy his or her way into the discussion.
...Ms. Martini is calling a group of Japanese "bastards" because they did their job in reporting how a group of predominantly American fans voted. Goodness only knows what they will think of us if they feel Martini is typical of American attitudes.
I strongly suspect that the Japanese are smarter than that and know that one person isn't representative of an entire culture. Anonymous would rather not give them that credit.
Feminism will never get anywhere just by whining. You have to act. So I'm hoping that in future Martini will put her anger to some use and participate in the process. And perhaps also use her position of influence as a high profile reviewer to recommend top women writers, and encourage other people to vote for them.
Leaving aside the idea that I am a high-profile reviewer -- do you mean using my position to advocate for works like this? Or this? Or this? Or this? Writing a column about the process and the ballot seems to be an excellent way of putting my anger to use. It is leading to this discussion, if nothing else, and it is a discussion worth having. Or was I only supposed to put my anger to use in non-public forums, like a good little girl?