This will be a blog about the Nebulas female sweep. First, let me, at length, discuss the current election for American President.
The current presidential election is a compelling argument for the continued presence of sexism in the general public’s collective unconscious. Hillary Clinton is widely reported as someone requiring a clean, gaffe-free campaign to secure the Presidency. She is widely considered suspect because her husband cheated on her, and she stayed with him. She is widely considered suspect because she is ambitious. She is widely considered suspect because she had a complex e-mail thing, probably more complex than most sixty-eight-year-old women have in their lives, and it might have been a problem, possibly. She is required by the media’s constant think-pieces to have a gaffe-free, scandal-free campaign to succeed against Trump. Her scandal could lead to his victory.
Donald Trump is a rolling trash fire of scandals and gaffes. He uses gaffes strategically, it seems, to push the more serious concerns out of the media coverage. Cries about his tax returns disappeared in the wake of his time as an outspoken sockpuppet, pretending PR under various pseudonyms. The gaffe pushes the serious concern out of the news. It’s brilliant and horrifying.
Now, reserve the genders. If Clinton had faked her own PR firm back in the nineties…? If Clinton spoke of men (or women) with the sort of casual sexism that pours out of the GOP’s prime contender, would anyone even take her seriously as a person, much less a candidate? Clinton is not allowed to have any gaffes.
It’s not just Clinton. Look at other women aspiring to the highest political positions in the land on the side of the aisle. Carly Fiorina and Sara Palin are many things, but let us just say that they do not resemble an orange failed potato in their physical appearance. Could anyone imagine taking them seriously on the national stage if they did? Women can’t just be good at their job, you see. They also have to look good doing it. Men can be a failed mr. potato head with tiny sausage hands and a hairdo so ridiculous not even Hasbro’s eponymous toy could pull it off. Women have to be so much better just to get the same respect and consideration that men (like me) take for granted.
Now let’s talk about the Nebulas. Women swept the ticket. When a woman writes a book, she is less likely to be reviewed. She is more likely to receive noxious death threats. She is often described in sexist terms. Her covers will cue readers that her work is not to be taken seriously. It is harder to be an author and a woman. It is even harder to be an author and a woman and a person of color.
So, when one considers the reality that for a woman to get just as far as a man in the world, she must do a better job, gaffe-free, and look good doing it, I think it is safe to assume that the work that won the Nebulas was very good, indeed. Setting aside the sexism, for a moment, and the problems of the sexist systems that exist and punish women and should be stopped soon, the very fact that these women won should be a clear indication that their work is likely better than what a man would write with the same expectation of success.
(Remember when space whale Jesus won a major award? Or how about robot jesus?)
So, we can’t stop sexism. But, we can remember that it exists when we consider the next thing we’re going to read, and see how women and women of color – a topic I did not discuss presently, but is a topic unto itself – managed to come out on top.
Whenever I look for a doctor, I always look for a woman doctor. I do this because I want the best doctor, and I know that sexism meant at every stage of her academic and professional career, the woman doctor had to be dancing backwards in heels, as the expression goes, just to stand equal with the men in her class. It sucks. I want to change that. I have no power over the world. But, I can control who my doctor is. I can control what books and stories I read next.