The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., also known as SFWA, is a non-profit organization that informs, supports, promotes, defends and advocates for its members. The organization includes professional writers and others who work in the publishing industry. I contributed four years of volunteer service to SFWA from 2009 – 2012 and I’m presently a member.
One of the many SFWA membership benefits is a subscription to The SFWA Bulletin: a quarterly printed/glossy professional trade magazine produced by the organization. It features content about writing, publishing, and other industry topics and is also available to the general public by subscription. For the past four sequential issues (about a year’s worth) The SFWA Bulletin has had a problem: consistent and increasing derogatory content about women.
SFWA has previously promised to correct some but not all of these problems internally, they also have a policy which includes text content that is not being followed. In fact, quite the opposite. Jean Rabe, the editor of the magazine, mentions in her latest editorial that she reviewed the latest content and thought it would “keep the SFWA forums busy”. Well, it has.
And this is another reminder of how insidious sexism really is. I have enormous amounts of respect for the current members of the SFWA board of directors and I consider some of them my friends. I can think only the best of the current staff members I worked with, their hard work, and their generosity. And yet for an entire year under the organization’s watch this was happening. And is still happening.
My membership is due for renewal in November. I’m going to be watching the actions that follow the organizations statement closely, because this is a deal breaker for me if things don’t change. It’s also a reminder that volunteer work and organizational pledges to do better are sometimes not enough. I can’t contribute the change I want to see — through time or money — if by action or inaction the editors and board decide differently. It’s been a year.