Behind the curves

E. Catherine Tobler, writer — and, since 2006, editor of Shimmer magazine — bids farewell to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America:

It began with issue #200 of the [SFWA] Bulletin — all right, #199 if we want to get technical. It began with the Resnick and Malzberg Dialogues, a long-time feature of the publication. It began when two men sat down to have a dialogue about editors and writers of the female gender. How fantastic, I thought, because I, being a writer and an editor and female, had a keen interest in such things. I love reading anthologies such as Women of Wonder (and its sequel) and seeing how women impacted and contributed to this forward-looking and -thinking genre I love. I hoped they might include the women who inspired me and introduce me to many I hadn’t yet discovered.

That’s not what I found. I found a dialogue that seemed more focused on how these “lady editors” and “lady writers” looked in bathing suits, and that they were “beauty pageant beautiful” or a “knock out.” I am certain no condescension was intended with the use of “lady,” but as the dialogues went on, I felt the word carried a certain tone — perhaps that was a fiction of my own making. As I listened to these two men talk about lady editors and writers they had known, I grew uneasy. Something wasn’t right.

“Now mere appreciation of someone’s appearance does not imply anything,” said a guy who puts up two Rule 5 posts every week. I have reference to me.


Because we ask to be called “editors” and “writers” and not be singled out, determined, judged, praised, looked down on, or slighted because of what sexual characteristics our bodies may display does not mean we hate what we are. We are writers. Period.

This is one of several discussions that ensued outside SFWA, and Tobler herself commented on Reznick and Malzberg on her Twitter account. It was quite a bit later, though, that I came up with the one line that I thought summed up the whole semi-debacle: “James Tiptree, Jr. was unavailable for comment.”


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