Friday, June 7, 2013

On Sexism in Publishing, or Why I'm Writing this Now Instead of Two Days Ago

Highly simplified, the reason is the same one that kept me from pressing charges against my rapist: because I was scared.

When I read Ann Aguirre's words (Ann's original post here) about her struggle with sexism as a science fiction and fantasy writer, I find so much kinship with how she felt as a new writer and how she feels now. When you're just starting out as a traditionally published author, there's so much insecurity, so much willingness to put up with anything to see your book in print. As a Southern woman who was raised to be polite and respectful, my instinct is to shut up and smile, to kill 'em with kindness and hope that the audience around me will recognize that I'm fighting with class and confidence instead of whining and complaining and yelling.

But you know what? It's not right.

Being quiet doesn't get results.

I'm not a member of SFWA because I looked at their website and composition and quickly came to the conclusion that I wasn't the target demographic. Sure, I write science fiction and fantasy, but once you throw romance and sex into the mix, it's generally agreed that my book will sit on the Romance shelf instead. Never mind the intricate alternate history steampunk world that's based on the supposition that the majority of prey animals have become predators. Shirtless dude on the cover? Romance. End of story.

And I'm fine with that, because I know that romance takes up 48% of the paperback market, and I'd like to be successful in my career.

What I'm not fine with, however, is being ignored or mistreated in industry articles or on con panels because someone has taken one look at my face and my book and decided that I'm not worthy of respect or time.

Story 1:
The first con I ever attended was a small steampunk con in Atlanta. It was two months before my book came out, and I wore a steampunk costume for the first time and was really excited. I asked the con if I could be a guest, and they turned me down, politely, probably because I had no connections and no actual book in hand. I offered to volunteer, hoping to meet people, and they made me into a green room hostess-- because I'm pretty. The first person I met was a famous science fiction writer, the Guest of Honor. He asked me what I did, and I told him I wrote steampunk paranormal romance. He scoffed and said that in the grand pyramid of writers, I was the bottom level. That I wasn't worth, and I quote, "the shit on his shoe" because I didn't have quality science in my books and just wrote "vampire porn". He said that women like me were ruining his genre.

And do you know what I did?

I smiled and tried not to cry. And served him breakfast, because that was my job, and because telling the Guest of Honor at a con that he was a misogynistic dick didn't seem like a good way to get invited back or to move my career forward.

That guy was the first professional I met in my field, and I've since learned that his books are basically rape fantasies. Fortunately, I've found a community of wonderful authors who have become friends, many of whom fight tirelessly for equality in an industry that is often criticized for its inability to quickly adapt to the changing cultural and technological landscape. How ironic--a genre based on technology, science, fantasy, and the future clings desperately to the past regarding the treatment of women.

Story 2:
I was on my first panel at Dragon*Con, sitting next to one of my favorite authors, a female writer with several successful series in several genres. Also on the panel were three writers with whom I was unfamiliar and who could all be described as "old white men". Can you guess how much they let us talk? How much they interrupted us? How much they complained about women mucking up science fiction right in front of us? The author beside me turned to me and rolled her eyes and said, "Why are we even here?"

And that gave me the courage to speak up, because dammit, we were there for a reason, and that reason was that we are writers (just like them), and we have books (just like them), and just because those angry old guys shouted louder and talked longer didn't mean that they were any more entitled to our time or attention. I remember saying something along the lines of, "Well, I may be the youngest and most inexperienced one on the panel and the newest to the publishing community, but I think that means I'm the future of our industry and that my beliefs on this topic have value for the new directions taken by science fiction and fantasy."

When you're a new writer, you receive a lot of advice from people who care, telling you to stop making waves, to avoid alienating readers or making industry people angry. But for me, this is a deeply rooted issue that might be worth losing potential readers. My book is just as much of a book as any man's book, and my words are just as important as a man's words.

And the fact that there are men out there who would even attempt to argue that fact makes me furious.

When I was raped in high school by an upstanding scholar, a teacher's son, I was told to keep it quiet so that I wouldn't look bad or ruin his life. I was asked, gently, if maybe it wasn't rape, if I had goaded him on or had given him the wrong signals. I was asked if I'd been "asking for it". I was told that since we'd dated, no one would consider it rape. And he wrote a letter to me explaining that he knew what he had done but that it was okay now, because had asked Jesus for forgiveness, and maybe I should ask Jesus for forgiveness, too. I told my favorite teacher, and she told me that if I pressed charges, I would just make myself look bad.

So what did I do? I stopped talking about it.

Over time, I realized that surviving that night with his knife at my throat was, in a way, fighting back. But I've wished for seventeen years that I'd fought back physically, loudly, that I'd risked everything to avoid letting him make me a victim. I want to think of myself as a fighter, as someone who does the right thing, even if it hurts.

So when I say that I'm not going to be quiet anymore, I mean it. I'm not going to let someone talk over me at a panel or tell me I'm worth nothing. I'm not going to be told that "it's always been this way", or "boys will be boys", or "stop complaining and do something". In this case, complaining *is* doing something.

Because men who belittle women, who turns us into damsels and whores in their books, who speak over us and tell us we're ruining things-- they want the same thing my rapist wanted: for us to stop talking about it.

I'm not saying that sexism in publishing is the same thing as rape. What I *am* saying is that when you expect a woman to shut her mouth and be pretty, to not complain, to accept the fact that you devalue her and her work-- you're taking away her voice and turning her into an object, one that won't get in the way of your plans.

And I'm no longer going to shut my mouth.

***

113 comments:

Ann Aguirre said...

Thank you for being brave. The more of us who are, the less power the misogynists have. I'm so sorry all of this happened, but I'm so proud of you for speaking up.

Wren said...

Thank you so much for this. We need more women to take a stand. I'm pretty much convinced that this whole "you might alienate readers" is pulled out just to make us sit down and shut up.

L Gwenn said...

First: *HUGS* because yeah.

I'm hearing a lot of dudes telling me to just STOP already I MEAN JEEEZE.

Remember when you were fun?

And I do. AND I MISS BEING FUN.

But this is too important. And I'm too angry. And it's been too long.

Fight on sister. <3

Jamie Wyman said...

I love you. Not just for standing up against the Old White Guys club, but for surviving your experience and sharing it.

Thank you. Thank you a thousand times. THANK YOU for that bravery. (And for also being amazingly nice to a newb writer at PHX Comic Con.)

I'm "in the door". My book comes out in November and I've started approaching Cons to be let in. My books are urban fantasy, but I'm being published by a romance publisher. So, I'm looking at recent events and wondering, "Oh sweet muppety Odin, what am I getting myself into?"

It's scary. It's disheartening. It's fucked up.

But no one is going to stop me. :)

You are amazing.

J. M. Dow said...

*slow clap*

This is absolutely awesome.

I'm sorry that you've been treated that way, especially in a field that's supposed to be full of your peers.

I actually found you on Twitter through Chuck Wendig's recommendations, but it was your awesome tweets and blog posts that convinced me to buy your books.

I know it's a small thing, but if it makes you feel any better, know that, as a reader, I won't stop fighting to make women equal in the SFF field either.

Thank you for being brave and speaking out.

Rachel said...

*applause*

Delilah, I'm really happy for and proud of you for deciding to take this stand.

You won't alienate any readers who matter.

Solidarity, sister.

Jill Braden said...

And now I will read your books because it sounds as if you write in the same space I do. And because you're brave. And because the best way to not be alone is to band together.

Danie Hermes said...

Delilah, I have to say since meeting you I knew you were the type of woman I could love with all my heart. A strong female with depth, wit, humor, and unabashedly yourself. You are a constant inspiration and a damn smart lady. Thank you for simply being you and writing things like this. The world is hard and the worst thing women can do in any environment, especially publishing, is simply accept things the way they are.

SheRaconteurs said...

This post made me cry in a good way. Our voice is our power. Women helping women. This is awesome. Truly a new day for women. Thanks for being brave.

Jill Braden said...

Well, now I will buy your books, because it sounds as if you write in the same space I do. And because you are brave. And because the best way to fight through this is with a community behind you.

swamifred said...

This is why I've subscribed to your blog. Keep talking. I'm listening.

Kristina L. Martin said...

You are my hero. Let's all speak up and speak loudly enough so that another generation of old white guys doesn't happen again.

Heather said...

Amen. When we let fear direct us, we lose, and no one wins. It's time to stop living in fear.

V. N. said...

You go, girl!!

Thanks for this post. Insightful and inspiring. I'm sorry you had to experience all that but I'm glad you found the courage to stand up for yourself and other women.

Kathryn Wierwille said...

Delilah, you did the most important thing: you survived. He had a knife to your throat.

It's despicable that everyone to whom you turned for help not only did not help you, but suggested that it was your fault and that you should protect him from the consequences of his criminal actions, because he had a "bright future" and you should not "ruin it." Despicable.

I was raped when I was in college. I had been on a few dates with him. I said No, but he didn't stop. I told him, Stop, you are hurting me. I told him that I had not had sex before, and I didn't want to now. Stop.

He told me that I couldn't be a virgin, because I didn't "act like one." Further justification in his mind that it was okay to rape me. He brutally tore my hymen. He bruised me all over, so badly that I wanted to see a doctor, but I didn't. I was too afraid that she would judge me, tell me that I shouldn't have "set myself up" to be raped. I didn't want her to pressure me into doing a rape kit and pressing charges.

I was too afraid to press charges. I told no one that I was raped.

He bragged to his friends that he had "nailed a virgin." I was humiliated.

But, I survived the attack.

Harry Markov said...

Completely boggles my mind such things happen and such interactions continue to be the norm. I'm happy you've survived and I'm happy for speaking out.

Harry Markov said...

I'm horrified that these things have happened and that this attitude even happens in our field. It's beyond me. I'm happy you have survived, even though you should never have lived through any of this and I'm happy you're speaking up and making a stand.

robin reid said...

Thank you so much for this post!

I've picked up so many fantastic new authors in the past week or so--just bought all your books for my Kindle.

Rachel Caine said...

Delilah, I am SO SORRY. As someone who's been in the SF/F community for lo, a dragon's age, I am disappointed, horrified, and not terribly surprised, although I truly wish I didn't have to say that last part. You should never have been subjected to that kind of treatment. Nobody, male OR female, should be. SF/F is supposed to be the outsider genre, the one that embraces diversity and celebrates difference.

But there is a significant fracture in the community of the ones who want it The Way It Was, and those who are, frankly, the future of the genre. So please, don't give up on it. It will change. It has to change.

Also, before I ever saw your post, I'd already read WICKED AS THEY COME and I thought it was amazing -- jam packed with vibrant, great writing, riveting characters, great world building and yes, a fair bit of romance that was entirely appropriate to the characters and beautifully written. I've already recommended it, and I'll continue to do so, wholeheartedly. (And if you want a blurb, please let me know -- not because of this post, but because I sincerely admire your work.)

I have no words to tell you how sorry I am about your rape experience, except that you're right: by surviving, you did fight back. And you're still fighting back. You have my deepest respect.

Deep breath.

I have a similar story to yours. Early in my career (waaaaaay back) I got stuck on a panel with a Big Name SF writer who politely (I thought) let me go first on the topic (which happened to be about having a career in writing). Once I'd finished my piece -- which was NOT controversial, I simply talked about the need to develop your craft and be persistent in the face of opposition -- he turned to me and said, "Well, you're an idiot, because you don't understand the first thing about writing or about the business." And proceeded, the rest of the panel, to attack and belittle me and what I wrote (that he had not, of course read). His attitude was utterly disdainful and dismissive.

I got angry after the first two sandbags, and refused to go first just to provide him with ammunition, but like you, I was raised a polite Southern woman, stubborn as steel, but not a name-caller.

Wish I had been a confrontational person, because after the panel I thought maybe I'd somehow got off on the wrong foot, or maybe there was something to be learned from someone higher up in the publishing chain than I was.

I emailed him (politely) and introduced myself again, and said that he'd brought up some interesting points at the panel. His response was, "If you're so weak-minded that you can be swayed by some casual bullshit comments I made at a panel, it just confirms that you're not worth my time."

Now, to be totally fair about it, he could have just been a raving asshole, and it might not have been because I was a woman at all ... except that there was another male writer on the panel also, who'd just published his first book, and his comments were treated with respect. He even came up to me after the panel and said he was sorry for how I'd been treated.

That's far from my only story of the kind of thing writers face. I've been bullied on panels. I've been groped by drunken colleagues and fans alike (well, when I was younger, thinner, and they saw me as "fair game"). It wasn't a compliment; it was an attempt at dominance.

Professionally, I've been called a hack by more than a few, simply because I write at a fast pace. (That last, I take as a badge of honor, because the working writers who built SF/F? By the same definition, they were hacks.)

So you're not alone. We're not alone. There are hundreds of us, all fed up with the bullshit. SF/F is a great community, and it's time for the good ones to stand up for each other.

Vivi Anna said...

Thank you for being so brave in standing up and speaking out and for sharing such a painful experience.

I have been there, done that. I know exactly what you went through.

Together, as a united women front, we can all speak up to those who would seek to shut us up.

Fuck you misogynistic dickwads!

Gwenda said...

Thank you so much for this post.

shanshad said...

If I get to meet you at some con in the future I would like to thank you in person. Thank you for speaking up and staying strong.

Anonymous said...

It infuriates me that such a closed-minded bunch of horseshit exists under our noses in a creative community where people are supposed to be encouraged to live outside the box. Let alone that this happens in specualative fiction? Holy shit, how can you create a fucking world that doesn't exist in a world that you are so removed from? Anyone who thinks that evolving the genre in any way is doomed to help us kill it. To be so opposed to making sci fi and UF mainstream by opening it up to both genders....even the statement of it makes me want to slap a man and say "what gives you the fucking right to own my creativity?" Good for you, and stay strong in what you do.

--Julie Hutchings

Laila Blake said...

Thank you so much for your beautiful post and for sharing that with us. It resonated deeply with me and I am grateful :).
I am also new in this industry and my fantasy novel was picked up my a romance publisher. That's fine and I am proud of it because yes, I personally feel that a story that also has a love story in it's central plot arch is something I enjoy reading -- but all it earns me from men is scoffing and scorn (and from a lot of "progressive" woman, too).
We'll see where it leads :).

Amber Love said...

One thing is certain: when more victims of injustice and "lesser" crimes of misogyny speak out, it gives voice to all of us who are scared, confused, and still fighting those feelings of being worthless.

You're amazing!

Gaie Sebold said...

I'm so sorry you've had to deal with this. I think I've been extraordinarily lucky in my con experience (maybe partly because I didn't get published until I was middle aged and bolshie) because I've never had anything remotely this bad. Could it actually be different here in the UK? (I've never been to an American con). I wouldn't have thought we were necessarily at the forefront of gender equality. Or maybe I'm just oblivious. Anyway congratulations for speaking up - I understand why you don't give the name of the dickhead in question, but I'd love to know just so I don't ever accidently read one of his books. Whereas I now *really* want to read yours.

Sharonda SexxyBlogger said...

you are a strong woman and a just applaud you.

It never ceases to amaze my that some people just refuse to see that the world is evolving...changing. I'm glad you won't be quiet...make a fuss! You'll never loose this reader :)

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

The more women speak out like you, the less ignorant old men will be able to talk you down. For both surviving what happened to you and for speaking up here like this, you're an inspiration. The kind of example I want my daughters to follow.

Also, steampunk romance? That's got my curiosity piqued.

Paul Riddell said...

I have one thing to say: thank you. I have something else to say: keep fighting. I may be, chronologically and biologically, an Old White Guy, but I can't agree more with your assessment. If there's any hope to the current state of affairs, it's that I'm seeing a very slow but very encouraging movement for new fans to say "I'm sick and tired of having what I'm doing being associated with the Cat Piss Men who think they're in charge of fandom," and they're leaving the Old White Guys to play in the corner. Feel free to leave them in the corner, too, until they can learn to play with others.

Liz Williams said...

Well done!

Gaie, I think there is a level of it at British conventions but I've never experienced anything this dire. But it is inexcusable.

Cate Masters said...

Mind-boggling. Thank you for putting this out in the open, and taking a stand.
It occurs to me that they're driven to lash out due to fear. The community of romance writers seems to understand that there's room for us all, but for some reason, writers who abhor that label don't get it.
And your books look amazing. I just bought two. Given all you've had to endure, success might not be the sweetest revenge but I sure as hell hope you achieve it.

Kevin said...

I thankfully have not had to deal with most of what you spoke about, but as a male reader I love the world building, characters, and story you tell. I like that the romance in your books has a story more than a race to see how fast the corset gets ripped off.

Andrew said...

As a male it makes me so angry to hear about men who treat women like that. It makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed of my half of the population.

And yes, you beat that bastard because you survived. It makes me sick that they told you to be quiet. That too makes me sick.

You are an amazing person and an amazing writer. I don't give a damn whether you write romance or paranormal or whatever, a good story is a good story.

Thank you for posting.

whiskeychick said...

Bravo! I can't tell you how many times I've been told to keep quiet. I don't know how many times my daughters have been told to be quiet. I won't. We won't. I'm glad and supportive of you not keeping quiet any more either. This is so important. I've walked out of panels at cons because of sexism or glorification of rape culture. The most important part of your post that I know to be true? You are the future of the genre and publishing.

Regge Episale said...

Bravo!!!

flchen1 said...

Hugs, Delilah--thank you for speaking up and sharing your stories. It's good to see that you/we are not alone.

Arthur Roberg said...

Thank you. Being one of the--not so--old, white-haired men, who, being unlike many that you've run into, I appreciate your position. What particular vehicle our intellect and spirit happens to be driving around in this reality should have no bearing on whether we are listened to or taken seriously. Hearing stories like yours--and they are all too common--always infuriates me, makes me be ashamed for my shared gender. For all of the others that happen to share the same chromosome with me, I apologize. Just know, there are some of us out there who are not the same, some of us who appreciate you, some of us who enjoy hearing you not be quiet.

Linda Poitevin said...

I haven't run into the level of sexism you describe, Delilah, but I've talked to enough other writers to know that you're absolutely write about its existence -- and about our need to speak up and out. Sadly, I don't think many people (yes, men) even realize they might be a part of the problem. I would love to see a panel discussion on this topic, particularly among industry professionals -- it might be a great one to plan for the World Fantasy Convention 2014 in D.C. Sometimes the best way to dispel the dark is to shine a bright light into the corners.

Carolina Kel said...

If you weren't already on my list of female authors I deeply admire, you just got there. I'm amazed by what you've been through and the fact that you're speaking out. Women like you are what is going to make this world a better place for the daughters, and sons, we leave behind.

Keep writing and keep talking girl!

Rachel Helie said...

A million times yes. There is no time to sit idly by and be polite. We have just as much right to a voice as any man any day of the week. I was in an abusive relationship with my father and my first boyfriend and was constantly made to feel as if somehow the abuse was MY fault. The adult who was tasked to care for me didn't. The boy who claimed to love me punched me and called me terrible insults. Somehow, by virtue of being female, I earned this assault. According to other people, members of my family, it had to go back to me. It had to be my fault, even though I was just a kid. I got sad. Very sad. But then I got seriously pissed off. For a very long time. I had to learn how to own that anger. I have a right to it and it's based in real stuff. It doesn't define who I am, but I'll be damned if I'll be quiet a second longer to protect someone who refuses to protect me, my ambitions for my work, or those that I love. Good for you, Delilah. Thank you. We need more women who are willing to lay it on the line in favor of what's real. Put the narrative in the novel if you have a problem with that, boys.

Ellie Di said...

Yes, yes, yes! All of this. As a new female writer looking to make her way into the publishing industry, I've been pretty freaked out about all the news of sexism swirling around. I honestly had no idea it was an issue until a few months ago. (I'm not sure if that makes me naive, stupid, overly tolerant or what.)

Thank you for speaking out and letting me know what to watch for as I attempt to get into the field. I'm so glad there are women (and men) like you fighting against this type of ridiculous bullshit and making authorship a safe place for everyone.

Matthew MacNish said...

Good for you, Delilah. It's going to take the dedication of many brave women like you (who stand up for what's right), and the support of their friends, women and men (like me) alike, before the world is willing to change (old assholes dying off will also help).

I for one am proud to know you, even a little bit.

Philippa Ballantine said...

Delilah, when you told me that story about the 'big name' Sci Fi author, I was so mad! It wasn't the first time I had heard such stories, about him and others of his ilk.
The old guard, and their butt-hurt reactions come from fear. They fear they are losing control of the industry that was once theirs. That women and their scary lady parts are selling books, and making a living outrages them. They see their own demise, and the reaction is to pine for the old days when dames knew their place. They are dinosaurs seeing the meteor coming, and knowing they haven't got the skill set to survive.
However, that doesn't mean any of us should be silent. So you're doing the right thing speaking out. Light drives the creepy crawlies back into the shadows.
*Hugs*

DC Spell said...

Go Delilah!

Mike Shepherd said...

I'm sorry you got that kind of treatment. Your GoH story, and the other old white men would have likely dismissed my novels too, as drivel. I write fun space opera with a woman starship captain. No doubt he'd complain that I was taking up shelf space from his books that have few enthusiastic readers and small sales.

As for moderating, I've often found it to be more a contact sport than a rational position. I hope you have more fun next time you have to ride herd on a bunch of cats and old white guys, says this old white guy.

nelizadrew said...

*claps*

John Kessel said...

You are eloquent and your arguments are irrefutable. I wish you didn't have to face this kind of treatment, and I will work for the day when it doesn't happen anymore. Thank you for speaking out.

Leo Elijah Cristea said...

Posts like this are painful, yet so important. Thank you for writing it.

Nobody should ever have to "shut up". Sexism absolutely needs to be a thing of the past - it should never have existed.

Keep doing precisely what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I wish the world was different. I am doing what I can to change it and support all those who try. Your words are inspiration.

Andrew Jack said...

I'm glad to have read this, and now I want to read your books!

I am truly sorry for everything you've been through, and I'm glad you're talking about it now. Even if you inspire a positive change in only one person then it was worth having it out in the world. Looking at the comments I think you've done much more than that.

barelyok said...

Rap the old woman-haters with your steel tipped umbrella with vigor. And this geek thinks women SF writers rock: James Tiptree (Alice Sheldon),Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler...

Was that Guest of Honor David Niven? I heard he's a major industrial strength douche. Can you give us a hint.

James said...

Thank you for surviving and representing. Sexism and inequality are ugly things. They needs to fade into history where they belong. Wish you all the best.

James

Anne Michaud said...

I won't stay silent either, D.

Thanks for speaking up:)

Hestiah said...

I have never read your books, but I also probably haven't read many of the books of the male authors you're referring to either. But I feel that the feminist fight, the fight to end misogyny, in any field is an important one not just for the treatment of women, but for the treatment of young girls. And the stories that we have to tell (in fiction and in our lives).

I commend you for being brave enough to tell your story and to keep going.

I will tell you, as someone who fights "The Menz" on the internet and in video games and twitter (and on and on and on). As someone who writes about why it's important for all genders to be equal. As someone who consistently tells strangers to please stop. As someone who often cries because of the horrible, horrible things the anonymous internet masses say because I refuse to sit down and take it anymore. You are not alone. And there will be bad days and amazing days. You will have support and people who will dislike you for what you do.

Stay strong. It's worth it. And much love from a stranger.

(Also, unrelated, your first link doesn't work and I was really curious to read it. I'll google, but I wanted to let you know)

April Grey said...

You keep speaking out! I've been on my fair share of panels with older men behaving badly and I often wonder why I bother. You are an inspiration.
I'm not sure if going to cons is cost effective for me, though, so I might stay home and put the money I save into advertising. But if I do continue I will keep you in mind.
Hang in there and don't stop!

Laura Kaye said...

Bravo on every level, Delilah!

Cecy said...

Delilah, I commend you on your courage, for not only speaking out about your struggles in the publishing world, but for sharing the experiences of your assault. I'm disgusted by the way you were treated by both the idiot writer and the piece of filth who attacked you. BTW, Jesus and I talked, your rapist is not forgiven, he is a monster, and there's a special place waiting for him in hell. Stay strong, keep writing, and thank you for having the ovaries to come forward.

Erica Monroe said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Delilah. I'm proud to know you (through Twitter, but nonetheless) and I've shared this post.

pjmccrack said...

Thank you for speaking up, not just for me but for my daughter too. Good for you, Delilah!

Jamie M said...

FIGHTING!!!

Jace said...

The GoH story sickens me. Guest of Dishonour, more like. I don't even know who it is, but I can't believe I ever wanted to be a writer like him. Still want to write, just not... ugh.

Keep fighting. Keep talking. You have my axe.

And I promise that if I am ever published, if I ever end up on a panel with a dude who acts like that, I will do my best to annoy the shit out of him.

(Sorry if this posts twice, I think I lost the first one somehow.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. As a physical abuse and incest survivor, I know this was difficult to write.

Never be scared to speak up. If anything you've gained readers. I'm certainly going to read your books now! I hope you keep us updated on any feedback you receive from the Science Fiction community.

Rachel Wilson said...

Thanks for writing this. Every story makes a change.

Alyssa said...

Thank you so much for this. So brave of you, and an inspiration. I am so sorry that these things happened to you, and it horrifies me that they continue to happen in this world. We all need to keep fighting and speaking. I only met you briefly at Phoenix Comicon, but I am very proud that I did!

Alyssa said...

Thank you so much for this. So brave of you, and an inspiration. I am so sorry that these things happened to you, and it horrifies me that they continue to happen in this world. We all need to keep fighting and speaking. I only met you briefly at Phoenix Comicon, but I am very proud that I did!

Anonymous said...

I could not find the original blog post you refer to, but did find a news item quoting much of the post: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/beyondherbook/?p=8152

Terri Windling said...

Thank you for speaking out. The attitudes and situations you describe were common in sf/fantasy when I entered the publishing industry in the early 1980s -- along with constant complaints that women editors were "ruining" the genre. (We were often referred to as "green girls from Vassar"- although as far as I know, none of us had actually attended Vassar.) I'm truly sorry to hear that this is still a problem 30 years later.

Shaun Duke said...

You are what they call freaking awesome. Thanks for talking about your experiences, even the deeply personal ones.

As for SF/paranormal romance...I still don't understand the argument about how that is destroying our genre. Is it my chosen generic form? Not really. But is it ruining the stuff I like to read? No. The stuff I like to read is still there. It's not like SF/paranormal romance is going to swoop in and end ALL OTHER GENRE FICTION EVER! I'll still get my space operas and epic fantasies...

The more I hear about these kinds of stories, the more I'm concerned what Worldcon will be like...and how I'm going to respond. Because I'm with you and Ms. Aguirre: I'm frakking done with this shit...

Suzie said...

You are a brave and intelligent woman, an inspiration to us all. I hope people read this post and spread the word. But more importantly, join the fight of sexism in all careers. Thank you for sharing you personal story, it takes courage to speak out.

Anonymous said...

I feel terrible for how you have been treated. No one should have to endure these abuses. It is doubly worse that no one stood up for you.

I understand your hurt and outrage and I stand by it's legitimacy. But I took the term "old white men" as derogatory and having made it over the hill of 40 years and being a white male, I have to say reading that hurts. I guess the loudest voices become those who represent the majority and set the template for how we view the world. But I'd like to think that all old white men are not selfish misogynistic bastards. Maybe I'm just overly sensitive.

I'm glad you have the courage to speak out. I applaud your post and hope you don't stop there. I hope you have an excellent career, make boat loads of cash, and enjoy creative fulfillment everyday. I hope you find the best, most supportive people to surround yourself with and that positive examples of old white guys find their way into your life. You deserve to be happy, successful, and safe.

Amber Dawn said...

Thank you for speaking up. I am a life long science fiction fan and like "hard" science fiction and "romancey" science fiction pretty much equally. I am a huge fan of Ms. Aguirre's work, and I'm going to go read some of your books now.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Wow. I've really wanted to go to one of the big cons but haven't had the money. Now I'm rethinking. I knew the fantasy and scifi fields had an overwhelming majority of male writers but I hadn't guessed so many of them were the same prigs as their protagonists are.

T.L. Costa said...

Thank you so much for speaking out.

Reading this makes me so furious that I am literally shaking.

I'm a debut author and just the thought that your first experience at a con ended up with that "guest of honor" makes me sick.

I pray that if I do ever encounter this attitude in the future, that I will think of you and be brave enough to speak out... and loudly. Thank you.


Shamus7474 said...

I'm not a fan of books with shirtless men on their covers but I've got your back :)

Is the era of cranky, old white men in speculative fiction dying? Most of my favorite authors have more progressive outlooks on the world. Perhaps I gravitate toward those types of writers. I suspect that the writers who have disrespected you at cons and elsewhere publish lousy books that don't reach my bookshelf.

aishamonet said...

You are such an inspiration to me. Seriously.
I'm just a young woman who has no experience with the publishing world and I have never had to deal with the issues you have and for you to go through those issues and actually stand up for yourself is such an inspiration to girls my age. Really, it is. You show us that we deserve to be treated and talked to like any man.
Thank you for standing up and say "No".

michellelouring said...

This was such a brave and inspirational post! It horrifies me that in a world that should have come so far with equality, there still exists so many prejudices against people because of their gender.

Brigid Q. said...

When 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.

I'm pretty. I paid for private school by modeling, and paid for college by modeling bathing suits. I've dealt with jerks before. But one of the reasons why I was put into such shock and my boyfriend (and childhood friend) was so protective was because I'd been sexually assaulted earlier that year. If he hadn't walked in when he did, I would have been raped.

It may not be rape to be treated like you're nothing, but it triggered me. Rape is not about sex, but the power and ownership that certain people, mostly men feel over women. Feeling like they have the right to tell us that we can't write, that our books are "real," that we can't even like SFF is domineering, it is a power trip, and it is not okay.

Thank you for speaking out. Writers like you, writers and others in the industry (both male and female) who won't stand for it anymore are helping young writers and fans like me realize that we do belong.

Angela Korra'ti said...

Hi, came in off of Chuck Wendig's blog and just wanted to add my voice to the rest: thank you for posting this. As a newbie SF/F author (with a generous side helping of love story on the side in generally anything I write), I'm keeping a real sharp eye on this entire conversation.

And you're right. You're totally the future of where SF/F will be going.

Tess said...

Wow, thank you for sharing. I know that must have been hard.

I work in the film industry and it is the same in Hollywood. HOWEVER, there is an ever growing trend toward female driven stories, because the money is going that way.

Those male views on women are a thing of the past. It's our century. Not only are these old fossils wrong, but they will soon be whining in a small room with other small minded people for company.

Keep writing, and enjoy the success I know is coming your way.

Virginia Brasch said...

I cried while reading this. I think on some level, all women can relate to this and have been subjected to some form of sexism and misogyny.

Someday I want to be a published writer. I want to meet other professionals and go to cons, interact and mingle. But I do wonder if my books will have soft, pink covers with shirtless male models. I wonder what shelf it will be placed on. I wonder how I would be seen by male contemporaries.

In that vein, I can only thank and applaud you for being there now. For having seen and suffered through those panels and refusing to close your mouth. Whether you meant to or not, you're paving the way for others.

It's also incredibly brave to share such a personal story.

Thank you!!! Keep on not being quiet!

K. VerHage said...

Delilah, I own a used and out-of-print bookstore. Women SF writers might not get a lot of respect in the industry, but, from what I've seen, they get it where it counts most, in the bookstore. Women authors are outselling men authors now. Even if you are shelved in the Romance section men will still buy your books.
Also to Rachel Caine: You are one of my favorite authors. I read your first Weather Warden book at the recommendation of a male customer. Since then I've recommended you to three customers who have me order your new releases for them. At least one of those has a daughter in another state who also picks up your books as soon as released.

Doug Alder said...

Good for you - more people need to stand up and call it as they see it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. As an opinionated boss-bag from the Northeast, I say don't take crap from anyone, because you don't have to. Keep speaking up. Call people on their bullshit whenever and wherever it happens. Once this guy I worked with was being a douche, so I said, "It's hard being a high-fivin' white guy, isn't it?" That shut him up. People will call you bad names and challenge your "femininity" (whatever that is) but don't let them tell you what you're worth. You deserve better.

Selene Grace Silver said...

Fantastic post. Thanks for speaking out.

AD Starrling said...

Hi Delilah. Also came to this post from Chuck Wendig and Nate Hoffelder of the Digital Reader. Thank you for your raw and honest post, and for highlighting such an important issue.

You have my heartfelt respect and admiration.

AD Starrling xx

GoingToAcapulco said...

I don't live in USA, but I've been reading a lot of posts about what happened in SFWA because I like books, and I like the United States, and I'm considering looking for employment there when I finish college, and I really hate discrimination of any kind.
So I just wanted you to know that this post is one of the best I've read, and that I think you're really brave.
=)

GoingToAcapulco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen Greyson said...

I'm so proud to have big sisters in this genre. Sisters who will stand up and shout about this BS. Sisters who will not be quiet, who will not allow jerks to be louder.

I do know a lot of wonderful men in the SF/F realm and they're class acts, every one of them....but they don't make up for these jackasses who are scared that women can write better than they can. They are speaking from a place of fear, fear that we're going to "steal" their readers -- when in reality we're bringing more readers to the genre -- readers who would never have read their stuff...and who may not, but they'll never get it.

So we get to be loud and brilliant and together. Because we will be the force that changes the world - one SF/F book at a time.

Thank you thank you thank you for speaking up. And for inspiring me.

BelleBooks said...

Absolutely awesome. Thank you. Big hugs. I'm going off to buy one of your books now.

BelleBooks said...

Absolutely awesome. Thank you. Big hugs. I'm going off to buy one of your books now.

murdersheread said...

Delilah, first of all, you are a real force to be reckoned with. I can't imagine how horrible it was to not only be raped, but be treated so disgracefully by the people who should protect you *and* to have the letter. If your rapist believes he has been forgiven, he is sorely mistaken - and his parents should be ashamed of themselves.

You have shown great dignity, not only for handling the situation with such strength; but also showing the same strength in the SF writing community.

I'd be honoured to stand up next to you against such sexism *right on* :)

shannon donnelly said...

Great words. And I'm happy to support you and buy your book.

Cate Noble said...

You rocked it. Again. Wow! And thanks!

Cate Noble said...

You rocked it. Again. Wow! And thanks!

Andrew Webber said...

Also arrived here via Chuck's blog.

I'm so angry it makes my eye twitch.

One of the constants in the industry is a variation of the "Emperor's new clothes" concept.

People don't speak out enough due to fear of looking stupid in the face of someone who has been made a demi-god of whatever genre they are peddling.

People don't speak up because of the fear that somehow there will be retribution that involves treading on the seedling of a writing career.

The writers that flailed at you have been given power by the readers and the industry to do just that.

The whole clique has to change, NEEDS to change - and it is going to take people like you, and those that are posting here to stand up.

ALL the time.

I'm glad you stood up, and I am glad that you have support here in the ether.

I am dismayed that those on the panel and in the audience didn't climb into the GoH on the spot.

Not because you are a girl who needs saving - but because the behavior is abhorrent, whether the recipient is female or not.

There is a common thread about the industry that has many sighing about "Gatekeepers" and exclusionary tactics performed by .

The successful writers within any genre ALSO act as gate keepers, and will continue to for as long as someone keeps giving them the keys.

Well done you.
If you need someone to follow you around with a stick to visit mayhem upon those who would try to treat you that way - give me a call.

Not because you are a weakling in need of my assistance...

...it would be purely for my enjoyment.

Anne-Marie O'Connor said...

Thank you for speaking out!
You've done the world a favor.

Leslie said...

I love your post and I bought your book. Thanks so much for being a committed and brave writer.

Leslie said...

I love your post and I bought your book. Thanks so much for being a committed and brave writer.

Margaret Cook said...

Have you seen this "xbox rape joke" story yet? http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2013/06/microsoft-e3-rape-joke/66092/

It seems that these are all symptoms of the same disease. "Mysogyny in geek culture" was a great way to put it.
We could be bitter and write it off as a bunch of fat, balding virgins bashing what they don't understand, but I don't guess that would solve anything either.

Thanks for speaking out and keep it up.

I'm sorry, what? said...

Only having met you a couple times, Delilah , I think you're an awesome lady.

Anonymous said...

Delilah I support your viewpoint and I buy books!!!!!

Red Sonya said...

I'm female & been reading SF for 50yrs.I've seen a lot of science fiction become science fact. I've bought a lot of books, supported the sales of a lot of writers. Through out those years I've always looked for strong female models in my fiction, females that overcome odds. I am greatful for the strong female heroines that have been developed to counteract the women as victim that some writers have offered in the past.

Maryanne Birch said...

I stopped reading most male authors years ago. I did not like their message and there are so many fantastic female writers I don't need to read them any longer. Taking a stand is the only way we have a chance to change anything. Thank You.

I also plan to read your books.

Devin Parker said...

Like many others, I was directed here by Chuck Wendig's blog, and the crap you were subjected to makes me angry and ashamed at the same time.

It always infuriates me to see authors and fans of a genre who always seem to view themselves as progressive, enlightened and forward-looking people displaying such ugly, regressive, small-minded behaviors. Calling these people hypocrites is only the beginning.

As a Christian, it also infuriates me to hear about someone using the name of Jesus not only to act like he never tried to rape you, but also to try to shame you for being his victim. Reading your account inspired in me some very un-Christlike thoughts regarding that douchenozzle, to say the least.

In any case, I want to say I'm sorry all this crap was poured on you by these people, and I eagerly look forward to the day when these old fossils are no longer the prominent voices in this community, and their spiteful attitudes are overwhelmingly met in conventions and other venues with the disapproval and scorn that they deserve.

And more importantly than them, you are awesome for speaking about this and continuing to do what you do despite everything that they threw at you. Rock on!

unstableshapeshifter said...

This post is one of the reasons I spoke up on my own blog. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sorry you had to go through anything like this.

Libby Hummels said...

Thank you. I am a sobbing mess at my kitchen table. I am proud of you for realizing you, and all of us, are worth standing up and fighting for.

Tina Moss said...

Thank you for this post. I am so sorry for your terrible experience, and have no words--well, actually, I have lots of words, but none acceptable for polite conversation--for the animal that did that to you and the jackasses who tried to keep you silent. I'm just so so sorry and hugs. So many hugs.

Your post needs to be read by the entire writing community. No one deserves to be put down on a panel or told they are less worthy for any reason. I am so tired of romance, whether it's the whole book or part of the book, being looked down upon. I write romance. I am proud of it. It is a billion dollar industry. It has millions of wonderful, intelligent readers of both genders.

Mickey Blake said...

Adding your books to my cart as a big ol' fuck-you to the misogynistic old white men of the world. Keep fighting the good fight.

Mickey Blake said...

Adding your books to my shopping cart as a big ol' fuck-you to the misogynistic old white men of the world. Keep fighting the good fight.

Nicola Smith said...

Story 1: Holy shit, what an asshole.

One day I'll tell you my husband's story about an actor he met at a con taking two underage girls up to his room.

Story 2: Kudos on speaking out. Just reached that point a couple of years ago myself. I tell myself that if they're bitching at you and putting you down, it means they're taking notice and on the attack to avoid being on the defensive. Go get 'em. :D

Also, I would recommend Chuck Wendig's blog terribleminds. He wrote three blog posts this week on this topic, the second two prompted by the reaction to the first one. It's not the first time he's raised it either, and he never fails to make me laugh out loud. Smart, funny, and does not flinch.

And also also: I don't know if you saw the video of Patrick Stewart's recent appearance at Comicpalooza here in Houston. Worth googling if you didn't. He spoke out about violence against women. I was there - slightly to the right and in front of the guy taking the video. I have so much respect for that man, and the girl who's comment and story he was addressing.

Ruby Dynamite said...

I've never been physically assaulted or raped, although I'm harassed and cat-called literally every time I set foot outside my house, so believe me when I say I'm not stranger to being on the receiving end of male entitlement behavior.

I'm an author (not published as of yet but then, my first book isn't even finished) and have been writing for over 20 years. My first book will more than likely be LGBT Urban Fantasy (the one that's not finished) but reading stuff like this, man... more than anything else, it ticks me off and it just makes me want to write even more, to buckle down and get this first book finished, and then start and finish the next one, and on and on... because anybody being on the receiving end of this type of douchebaggery is just unacceptable. Because I'm crankier and more stubborn than a donkey with a banana up its tailpipe and nothing makes me wanna prove people wrong than being told I can't do something.

So yeah, thanks publishing dinosaurs and jackass Guests of "Honor," your behavior has had the exact opposite effect you were hoping for. Well done, you.

Delilah -- I've never read your stuff and it's been literal decades since I purposefully bought a hetero romance novel, but I'm buying a copy of Wicked as They Come, just because this post was so damn awesome. You're all sorts of brave and badass and I tip my hat to you.

Male cover model said...

Glad to hear about standing up for yourself, don't ever let anyone put you down like that. I know that the established writers sometimes do. And you know, sometimes it stems from insecurity. They know that their writers "hegemony" is coming to an end as they're aging and that they are having less and less influence. They try to deny that young women like you are the future and that most readers are eventually female so they try to put a label in your forehead saying "romance novel" because of a shirtless dude.

Well, don't listen to them, because the romance genres is a billion dollar industry, and there's nothing wrong with hiring models to promote your work. The romance genre has done that for quite a time, but I think it's spreading to other genres as well (if I didn't believe in it, I wouldn't have become a cover model). Actually I'll be modeling for a friend of mine who's a writer, and she writes content that touches into scifi, I'm just doing the final toning up and dieting before the photoshoot these days.

So, don't believe these dinosaurs that merely try to put you down because of their own insecurity about becoming irrelevant in the long run.

ej8517 said...

You are an inspiration to us all.