When Gays Are Beaten In Russia, Why Should You Give A Crap About SFWA's Shenanigans?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

My critique buddy Charles Oberndorf had this to say on the SFWA scandals:

Given the disastrous stance in Soviet Union and Nigeria against gays and lesbians, given the lack of rights for women in most of the Middle East, it seems to me there are bigger fish to fry than a few outdated musings by two older guys who have done a lot for the field. To acts as if these musing were civil rights violations is plain silly.

I agree that the shameful treatment of gays and women overseas is a bigger deal than the internal politics of some writers’ organization.  But you know what?
I’m not a member of the Soviet Union’s culture, or Nigeria’s, or the Middle East’s.  Those people aren’t reading me – and even someone handed them translations of my essays, they’d probably view me – rightfully – as some idiot outsider trying to meddle in their morality.  That always goes well.
They’re also massive issues.  My chances of affecting what they think are small.   I can put in a vote to maybe have Congress condemn them, but realistically?  My voice in those organizations is miniscule.
My voice in SFWA, and in gaming culture, and in polyamory, is large.
Not as large as, say, John Scalzi or Seanan McGuire or David Gerrold or David Brin.  But I have a far better chance of affecting those cultures by writing and complaining about them.  Already, the fact that several prominent SF authors have spoken up has changed the culture of SFWA – maybe you don’t agree that it’s for the better, but by God when we spoke out loudly, things shifted.
Maybe that’s not, say, legalizing the protection of gays in foreign countries.  But we have made this space into something I perceive as friendlier to women.
And I think the idea that, “Well, this change isn’t as big as the global changes that need to happen, so why bother?” is pernicious and detrimental.  You change what you can, where you can.  Even if it affects five people, those five people’s lives are bettered.
I can’t change the location of the Olympics or arm-wrestle Vladimir Putin into being cool with homosexuality.  I can, however, speak out loudly in the smaller groups I’m involved with, and contribute significantly to creating change within them.  That’s vital.  In some ways, it’s more vital, as changes don’t happen in one global sweep; they happen in tons of little evolutions cascading through smaller structures until they achieve critical mass.
If this was a more equitable world, I’d devote hundreds of blog entries to the massive inequalities across the world, and those blog entries would change people’s minds.  But they won’t.  Those distant folks aren’t listening to me.
So instead, I’ll talk to the people who are listening, and maybe change a couple of minds in smaller cultures, and call it “good enough.”
This shit matters.
Keep talking.

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