Moving beyond the wank to actual intelligent discussion… or trying to!
You’re all probably as tired as I am with this whole topic. It broke with such a fervor but then the waters got muddied and nasty and everyone kind of wants it to go away. I get that and even agree to a certain extent as the level of discord and nasty behavior has reached disgusting proportions. It makes me question this genre and the people in it.
With that in mind I’ll be as brief as possible (ok I tried but this was hella long, sorry).
When this whole scandal first broke, I was definitely a part of it. I don’t deny it and furthermore have taken responsibility for my part all over. I’ve written numerous posts lately that I never actually published because it seemed someone was always beating me to the punch.
I try very hard not to beat a dead horse so I supported those other posts, spoke my mind often, and let that be my “piece.” I never apologized for being a part of this scandal nor will I. I did what I thought was right and furthermore, I did what I thought was honest. I believe that if everyone’s going to whisper about it – say it outright, come clean, and stand up for the accusations or behavior you’re calling out.
I get that not everyone is the same way, nor should they be. It’s also hard when telling the truth is often going to hurt someone. You have to weigh your truth against someone else’s hurt. Then factor in your own pain because when you hurt someone, even in pursuit of doing the right thing, they are going to hurt you back. It’s because of this and this alone that I’m sorry people got hurt and that the issue became so convoluted and nasty. I am sorry that innocent people got caught up in this and ended up feeling insulted or marginalized.
What I’m not sorry for is helping to expose this because the heart of the matter is very, very important in this genre. It’s not about gender and it’s never been about gender, of any kind. It’s not about outing someone’s sexuality or their self identity. It’s about exposing lies and bullying behavior. There are numerous, extremely eloquent and intelligent posts about why this isn’t a gender issue but still an issue and I encourage you to take the time to read them:
What I want to address are a number of erroneous arguments used, why this issue is important to our community and where we can go from here.
The first point I want to talk about is one that is so hypocritical within our community. One of the most oft used arguments is that only the writing and the craft matter.
This is so blatantly untrue that it’s almost sad to see it continue to be used. In fact the most hypocritical statement I saw was from someone that posted “only the writing matters, I love you anyway but I’m sure as hell not going to read or buy anything of that bitch who attacked you.”
Oh so only the writing matters when you’re trying to support an author but it’s ok to boycott an author for expressing an opinion opposite of yours. This statement typifies exactly why behavior DOES matter. Why what an author writes in their bio, their blog, their twitter, facebook, etc does matter. If the writing was the ONLY thing that mattered then why do authors cultivate such an extensive and more so, careful, online presence? Authors are told constantly by everyone from publishers, editors, and other authors down to readers, reviewers, and random people on the street to never comment on a bad review, never get involved in political discussions or online drama.
They’re not told this so they can focus on their writing. This is a long held rule because an author’s online behavior matters. It matters to readers who stop reading authors due to their behavior. Call out a reviewer for being snarky and the author potentially stands to lose readers. Say you’re a supporter of a certain political party and you potentially alienate readers. This extends so much that authors are pretty much hog tied to do or say anything that doesn’t relate directly to book promotion or the occasionally funny life twitter. Be funny, personable, and informative without giving too many details. This is what author’s are told because their behavior and their words, OUTSIDE of the fiction they create, matters. Trying to pretend otherwise is simply foolish and disingenuous. When someone perpetrates a long time lie that goes to pretty extreme lengths, this matters as it always has for readers.
The second is that this community shouldn’t care what people say online because it’s online and you have to assume everyone lies so it doesn’t matter.
Um, excuse me but that’s probably the worst defense of bad behavior I’ve ever heard. This community is very small and it’s intimate and frankly, the genre celebrates that fact (even as it bemoans it often). In fact the authors and readers support the close connection between the two so much they had an entire retreat just so the two groups could hang out and talk on a more personal level. If ONLY the writing mattered or it didn’t matter if people lied, then these types of retreats would be ghost towns and worthless.
Personal interactions online matter and furthermore their truthfulness matters. Imagine meeting an author you admire and respect, getting their autograph, shaking their hand, and basically getting the opportunity to tell the author how much their book or blog or twitter mean to you. This may be something the author gets all the time but it’s special to you. Perhaps it’s even special to the author, or so we can hope *g*. Then imagine getting told that wasn’t actually the author. Oops, no harm done.
Friendships and relationships are formed online and many, many people choose to trust those interactions. Hell I went to New Orleans to stay with 6 strangers I’d only met online. I met 6 incredible, wonderful women but for all I knew I’d never make it back – though I did send a thorough email with all possible aliases and information to my mom should I not make it back… that’s just smart. I choose not to question the truths of authors and people I meet online. I’m not naïve but I choose to believe in people until I get evidence that I can’t. I want to participate and enjoy this genre and community, not stay on guard for the next lie. I don’t want to be cynical and angry so I choose not to be.
As a community, each one can choose to be cynical and expect everything is a lie or actually try to contribute in a positive way. It’s important to identify those elements that hurt the community, to expose the lies that tear apart people’s trust and move on. We don’t need to vilify either side but we also shouldn’t pretend this isn’t important. It impacts us as a community so hopefully when this happens again (because it always does) we can have thoughtful, intelligent discussion that strengthens our community and genre instead of tearing it down. People on BOTH sides of an argument have a right to their opinions without being ridiculed, demeaned, dismissed or ignored.