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Writers and Illustrators - Elf M. Sternberg
Writers and Illustrators
So, there's been another storm over male privilege, this time in the vaunted halls of the Science Fiction Writers of America, where a few complaints about a chick-in-chainmail illustration on the cover of SFWA Bulletin #199 quickly devolved, with a regular column by Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg in SFWA #200 discussing the sexual attractiveness of women writers in their industry, and how much of a shame it was you could no longer say stuff like that without being "censored." This was then followed by another editorial in the next issue extolling the virtues of Barbie (!) for "maintaining her quiet dignity the way a woman should."

(One of the big lessons this time around, guys, is one we've been saying for years on Usenet: it's a gas to hear someone tell a million people he's being silenced for his opinions. Disagreement is not censorship. Hell, it's not even disrespect. If we disrespected you, we wouldn't even bother engaging.)

The thing that stands out, to me, is that this conversation isn't happening among illustrators. Especially not illustrators working in the SF/Fantasy space. Despite its attractiveness to wanna-bes, ImagineFX is still the best magazine on SF/Fantasy illustration out there, so check out the past dozen or so covers. The last six issue feature some variation of "hot chick" art, much of it absurdly exaggerated or disproportionate.

Given the differences in the medium, I wonder if the conversation about treating women like human beings will ever come to the illustration side of the business, or if this is something ever more entrenched.

Then again, maybe that's not the point. The chick-in-chainmail cover may have been pointless and silly, but it was the guys at SFWA's "Why can't you women take this sort of thing lying down?" attitude that drove the anger. I'm sure there are troglodytes in the illustration game as well, but it's a question of how much voice they have in high-profile positions, and how much they can get away with.

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2 comments or Leave a comment
idancewithlife From: idancewithlife Date: June 4th, 2013 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, maybe not so much. Also in issue 200 is an article by Jim Hines about covers, part o a more-than-year effort to raise consciousness about the issue. Hines also has an LJ post that gives links to responses, some of which also comment on the covers.

mcjulie From: mcjulie Date: June 4th, 2013 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
To be honest, I think that a lot of the SFWA controversy is driven by the fact that a lot of us had come to expect better from SFWA and the SF community in general.

But you're right -- the biggest problem was not the original cover, it was the Resnick and Malzberg reaction to people who objected to the cover.

2 comments or Leave a comment