Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Groping Incident

One bad thing about being compulsive and being a blogger simultaneously is the nearly overwhelming feeling that one must Say Something about every controversy within the SF world, even if one has nothing actually to say.

And here I go again.

Harlan Ellison groped Connie Willis's breast during the Hugo Awards ceremony on Saturday night -- I didn't quite believe it when I saw it (in a "surely that car can't fly" kind of morbid, horrified way), but everyone else saw it, too. It did happen.

I think Patrick Nielsen Hayden was the first to publicly talk about it, and make it clear how very wrong it was. I'm running through my SF blogs later than usual today, and I've already seen it a few times, so I'm sure it's all over the place. Harlan has issued something taking the outward form of an apology (it's on this page, but I'm afraid I don't have a direct link), and he's actually being forthright and taking responsibility more than usual for a "Harlan apology," but it's still a lot more like a vaudeville audition than a mea culpa.

Yes, he's an old guy, brought up in a very different time, and yes his schtick has been obnoxiousness for longer than I've been alive, and yes he was trying to "get back" at Connie for some of her digs at him earlier in the ceremony (and I bet he did it that way, instead of exploding verbally, because he knows that once his mouth gets started he's likely to go too far -- so I do think he actually groped Connie because he thought it would be funnier, and less offensive, than the things he otherwise would have said). Yes and yes and yes.

It's still horribly wrong and embarrassing and demeaning. Harlan used to make a big deal out of being a feminist, which makes it even worse -- he's a guy who knew how wrong that was forty years ago. I don't want to defend him; I don't want to attack him. I wish it hadn't happened, but that's not a constructive response.

So I think I'll go back to reading the end of James Tiptree, Jr., which already had me thinking about feminism, gender roles and horribly self-destructive behavior, and which I think will elicit more coherent, and maybe more useful, comments from me.

Harlan, I'm so ashamed of you right now.

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