Alright. Since this is the first time I’m writing this … column, shall we call it?… a little explanation. I spend a bit of time on Twitter here and there, and follow a bunch of influencer types in SFF. Well, they all seem to know each other, and know the cliques, and who we’re supposed to like and not like and who is problematic, or a fave, or a problematic fave. And it’s, well it’s confusing.
So this is a sort of lighthearted look at the befuddlement one feels when trying to navigate the muddy, swirly waters of SFF fandom without putting a foot in it. In the poo, I mean. There’s a lot of poo just lying around, and people often like to pick it up and sling it. So, how do we know who we can like without getting poo aimed at us, or even just getting caught in the poo crossfire?
Today’s dilemma: Will Shetterly
Probably this is an old one, so, good to get it off the queue.
On the surface, Shetterly is a smart guy living the middle north of the U.S., who writes SFF, supports other writers, and is married to Emma Bull, who writes beautiful SFF. (By the by, should I be worried about liking Emma Bull, too?). But scratching the surface a little, maybe the veneer hides something unpleasant?
Reading Shetterly’s own website, he kind of comes off as a self-aggrandizing white guy who is very interested in being seen as not-a-racist–not-a-sexist. I dunno if he is or not, but his own commentary on the subjects sound just a tad mansplainy–alright, a lot mansplainy–especially when he talks about how he would call himself a feminist if it were not for all those feminist out there doing it wrong and making feminism not fun for all the poor menz out there trying to help women get along in “Man’s world.”
There are a few semi-private forums you can find if, like me, you’ve gotten elsewhere a whiff of something poo-ish in an offhand remark, or a strange result off a search engine when looking for something like “misogyny,” such as this Livejournal post that hints at something a little bit off. The best part, of course, is the line that he seems to be a nice guy in person but online is willing to engage in a lot of stuff that makes people uncomfortable. Hey, we’ve never hears of anyone doing anything like that before, eh? How bad could he possibly be?
Funny thing about asking that question, though, is that it tends to invite an answer. Just as soon as you open the door for doubt, certainty barges its way in, usually in the form of an abusive man-baby with seemingly no ability to evaluate his own behavior.
On the other hand, Emma Bull. I’d like to think she’s a pretty smart person, willing to marry this guy and work with him and whatnot. Shouldn’t she know if he’s a total racefailnaut? Who knows. I still see her books appearing on SFF lists, as well as Steven Brust, who is also a close associate of Shetterly.
Ok, I think I’ve outlined my dilemma enough, without actually digging into the giant manure pile that is the internet anymore.
Please, though, remember I’m just asking a question and not making a judgment.
Don’t throw poo at me. Or on my behalf. Or anything.
Just don’t throw poo.