Space for Rent: Skin in the Game

Tweet of the Day:  This Week in SF


A thing happened the other day, a bad thing to be sure, no end of the world stuff, but not great. But it was followed by a great thing.  So what is this thing I am talking about? Well, it seems that some old timers decided to write an opinion piece(s) on the SFWA  (that’s the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a trade group that represents published speculative fiction writers) that boiled down to: women + sci-fi are a no go.

Let me check my calendar: 2013.


But the thing is, as much as I abhor what happened (and I’m a potential member, since I haven’t published yet), as a man I don’t have any real skin in the game. I might scoff at the blatant misogyny of  it all but it doesn’t affect me directly so I would have laughed at these gentlemen and be on my merry way.

Enter the good thing that happened.

The women of science fiction, from writers to editors and many a SFWA member, all of the who do have “skin in the game” spoke up.

They spoke up loudly.


The gentlemen fired back this was nothing but censorship by “inconsequential voices”.

Did you just accuse writers, writers from the great tradition of 1984, A Brave New World and Fahrenheit 411 of censorship?

Did you just tell the lady-writers to stay in the kitchen?

Bad move man, bad move!

Or, as it turned out, a good move, for all of us, including us in the peanut gallery. For you see, instead of quelling the outrage, they dropped a tank full of JP-8 on it and then took a flamethrower to it. And the ladies, yes the women of science fiction donned their asbestos suits, walked through said fire and said, “Ain’t nobody shutting me up!” And the leadership of the SFWA listened.

But, for someone like me who watches from the sidelines, what in it for me? Do I want a genre devoid of voices just because of their sex? Should we cram everything back into the ghetto because someone doesn’t want to get the cooties? Shall we fall into the trap of facile gender marketing that pigeonholes good writers while exalts the mediocre ones?

The genre I love would be poorer if anyone answers the above with a YES.

So, three cheers from the peanut gallery for the ladies of sci-fi! You did a good thing yesterday, today and for all our tomorrows.


NOTE: I managed to find a copy of the response by the gentlemen in question, and dear god in heaven, I didn’t think anyone could be more obtuse! Whatever the faults of the original “dialogue” this dropped like two tons of straw on a camel’s back.


5 comments on “Space for Rent: Skin in the Game

  1. Sounds like a very lively exchange, Rafael, and good thing too!


    • A necessary one. It is sad to see a part of literature known for being progressive in so many issues fall back into its darker side, a side that really has nothing to do with the writing itself. Thankfully the ladies took care of it, in style! 😀


  2. […] Puerto Rican SFF writer Rafael R. Piñero comments on the whole SFWA and women in SFF discussion and cheers on the many women who spoke out about the sexism they have experienced in the SFF community. […]


  3. finding it all very ironic given that sfwa gives out the andre norton award….


  4. […] recent post in her Girl Cooties series highlights a number of pieces that I missed, including one from Rafael R. Piñero which I found very heartening to […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: