December 25th, 2004


Further note about Hengrave, plus misc comments

I'm usually scrupulous about naming my sources when I'm discussing interesting new ideas. However, I've deliberately not mentioned the names of the two celebrity speakers in my account of Hengrave, because they are quite famous and I want to say negative things about them.

The thing is, along with all the dinosaurs and fossils and hobbits at this year's conference, I actually came face to face with a real live sexist. One of the speakers insisted on peppering his talk with really crap sexist jokes, the sort that are predicated on the idea that women are always nagging and don't understand men, but it's worth keeping them around because that's the easiest way to get the housework done, and get laid occasionally if you're lucky. And he was really patronizing towards female members of the audience (including a Cambridge philosophy lecturer, no less, but that kind of thing isn't ever acceptable even if the person asking a question actually is stupid). He didn't respect women's personal space; he insisted on kissing me (and took my head in both his hands so I couldn't escape without being directly rude if not actually violent).

And, in a discussion on SF/F, someone asked him why so few women read SF (which was perhaps not the most sensible question anyway), and he replied, "Oh, there are lots of women in fandom, they're just all much too fat and usually ugly." Actually it's sort of weird: my reaction to that was not just, what a ridiculously sexist comment!, but more, how dare you insult my friends? Since I've been on LJ, I've come into contact with a community of people who identify as SF fans, and to an extent I feel a connection with that group, even though I'm very much on the fringes of it if I'm in fact connected at all.

To tell the truth, he came across more as a rather pathetic old man than a Villainous Patriarchal Oppressor. It transpired that he'd very recently divorced and was rather obviously taking out his unhappiness about that on women as a class. The women present didn't react to him by curling up in shame and terror and deciding they'd better keep their opinions to themselves. People just ignored him when he was being ridiculous and carried on quite happily.

Anyway, I doubt that being able to say that yes, I have now experienced sexism will much endear me to some of the feminists I've been arguing with recently, but I thought I'd mention it. Also, talking of sexism, I've just posted a review of Marian Keyes' Rachel's Holiday, a book with a hot pink cover set in the alternative reality where men and women are two alien species struggling to co-exist.

It snowed here yesterday. Not much, but enough that there was a white dusting on the ground before the sun came up this morning. Yay snow.
  • Current Music
    Radio 3 (Christmas music of some kind just now)