Monday, April 6, 2015

The Politics of Everything

It's been an interesting few months to be a fan, and things have come to a head this last weekend with the announcement of the nominees for the Hugo Awards.  io9 has probably the best write-up about the situation, but the short version is that a couple of fairly big authors decided to put together "slates" of potential nominees, and used their clout to help get these slates onto the short list for the Hugos.

Now, anything that relies on feedback from the public at large is going to have groups that have agendas that have nothing to do with the actual merits of the award.  It isn't all that surprising that there was some backlash from last year's nominations and wins, but it's still incredibly frustrating.

As readers of this blog/people who know me IRL know, I'm a lot of things.  I'm a feminist, in that I believe people should be treated equally, regardless of gender.  I'm a minority in world of fandom in a lot of ways - I'm a woman, I'm mixed-race, I'm mentally ill, etc.  There are certain (very small, thankfully) groups within the fan community that would rather I left their sandbox alone, lest I get my cooties all over them.

I spent this past weekend at Norwescon, which will always hold a special place in my heart as the first convention I ever attended.  I was surrounded by "my people" - people who enjoyed what I enjoyed, who would catch the semi-obscure references I throw into conversation on a regular basis, and who would be able to give me recommendations for other things to try.  It's a wonderful weekend in a place that tends to ignore all those things that I am, and actively rejects that group of fandom that doesn't want us.

Even there, however, there was no way to get away from the politics.  There were entire panels dedicated to diversity in games and books, and learning how to deal with the people who want to maintain the status quo.  There were ribbons for badges to help people become more comfortable in their environment by making their preferred pronouns clear, and their comfort with complete strangers.  I appreciate that the effort is being made to make people comfortable and give them a safe place to geek out, but it still saddens me that it's necessary to be so explicit in making sure that people treat each other like, well, decent human beings.

Mostly, however, I'm just tired.  I'm exhausted by the fear I feel every time I express an opinion.  I'm tired of the amount of time I spend policing my language to make sure that not only do I not offend, but also that am "enough" - feminist enough, Hispanic enough, supportive enough of those who are under constant attack.  I'm tired of knowing that any moment, an author or other content creator whose work I enjoy will have something come up online which will make their work "problematic", and I'm tired of justifying continuing to consume their content after finding out about their problematic tendencies.  I hate that reading a book or going to a movie is a political statement, and I'm terrified that if I ever do become any kind of public figure, the words I'm writing right now may be used against me.

The glow of a weekend of geekdom was marred by the outrage regarding the Hugos.  I realize it's completely naive, but I want to lose myself in a world with characters that are interesting and ignore the real world for a while.  I read to learn, and I read to escape, and right now what I want to escape is the world surrounding fandom.  I'm just afraid that it's becoming too much to ask anymore.