Not bring a fiction writer – I gave it a go once and have a couple of awfully nice personal rejection letters from high-level editors for efforts – what SFWA does isn’t entirely my bailiwick. But the latest sexist eruption from the old guard has Anna, who is a writer, asking – in rather clear terms – what the hell this organisation is for, and why it’s worth her time.

I’ve read excerpts from Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg’s “rebuttal”/”counter-opinion” piece (courtesy Foz Meadows, who posted them), responding to a Jim Hines commentary on sexism in the field, and I find myself led back to a place I’ve been before.

Now, I don’t like making this kind of generalisation, and if it weren’t such a matter of strong self-identification of the group itself, I wouldn’t. But Baby Boomers have always been generationally hyper-identified. Until 1978, it was a rallying cry: “don’t trust anybody over 30.” Then they started turning 30, and it became “don’t trust anybody under 30,” and they’ve never listened to anyone else since.

Of course, I speak in the general, and there are always exceptions; I even know a couple. But over the broad spectrum, that self-proclaimed generational hyper-self-identification has led them to hearing no one else. Which is why they’ve been having the same damn arguments since Vietnam, and why it’s Team D vs. Team R in politics and why it can be so fierce on so many levels while still being so utterly disconnected from reality on the ground.

As I’ve said many times, when I was more commonly posting about politics: this will go on until it can’t.

But now we’re on the leading edge of a change: where they’re going to have to deal outside their own. Just a little, just on the fringes. The world is changing out from underneath them, right as they’re starting to think a good bit more about mortality, and they’ve spent the last 30 years being determinedly unaware and dismissive of the either possibility.

And they don’t like it.

This isn’t unique to them. A lot of the War Generation sat out the 60s, then got slapped upside the head by the 70s, tried to get reconnected, and found themselves totally, and I do mean totally, lost. We’ve been seeing these erupt more often, lately – see also this bad-even-for-Fox sexist explosion a few days ago – as reality starts to close in.

It’s going to be kind of awful. And in some ways, if you’re a bad person – like, say, a supervillain – kind of hilarious. But no matter how you choose to react, it’s going to be common.

Because Reality – who is one of the Supervillains of Crime and the Forces of Evil, she’s in the back on the Sketchy Characters cover – she may not be the fastest of us. But she is cold, and hard, and she will take you down.

And there is nothing you can do to stop that.
eta: Since most people don’t check comments, Mary Robinette Kowal has good commentary on how this kind of thing undoes so much of what SFWA is supposed to be about, and Ann Aguirre talks about how this feeds back into conventions and career – that second one is pretty hard reading at times, so be warned.

This post is part of a series of articles on sexism and racism in geek culture.