I tried to let it go...
The winter issue of the SFWA Bulletin has been taking a lot of flak for it's embarrassing softcore fantasy porn cover. But the part that's been bothering me even more is on the inside, from an article on female editors:
"She was competent, unpretentious, and beauty pageant gorgeous" -- [well-known male author]
I'm omitting names here because I have no bone to pick with this author in particular. It's just symptomatic of a general social trend that drives me crazy, and I was upset to see the trend so flagrantly displayed in the Bulletin -- and as a pull quote, nonetheless.
My question: what exactly does her bombshellness have to do with her being a notable editor? I realize it's an article about women, but I feel like the authors are rather missing the point if their thought process goes like this: article about women, women are for sex, must mention sexy editors. I'm guessing -- or perhaps naively hoping? -- that the original purpose of the "Literary Ladies" column was to counteract unconscious social bias against women by highlighting the accomplishments of notable ladies in the industry. Ladies who have been historically overlooked because of their gender. Ladies who now get to enjoy being objectified in print for all of SFWA to see. Yay? Progress?
How many times have you seen someone accepting an Oscar thank their "beautiful wife"? It's so common it's cliché, but really, if you have to reduce your spouse to one adjective, is that the best choice? Even if you are in a sexual relationship with someone, how hot they are is not necessarily their most important characteristic. And for the love of god, if you're in a business relationship with someone, there is NO NEED to mention their physical appearance when extolling their virtues.
To provide a gender-reversed example from SFF fandom, some folks around the intarwebs have noted that China Mieville is a good-looking dude. It's not necessary, however, to add "...and he's teh hott" whenever you want to say something positive about his books. The hotness, when remarked upon, is incidental. The vast majority of the time, we discuss the work done by men without ever referencing what they look like. Why? Because it is enough that they do good work.
Good work is never enough to make a woman good. To be the complete package, she must also be pleasing for her co-workers to look at. Because we are still objects.
I'm sorry, dudes of the world, but pleasing your aesthetic sense with my hotness is not on my top-ten list of life goals. I am not a fucking piece of décor in your workplace. And I am so sick of the automatic, unexamined need to add commentary about a woman's attractiveness when it should be sufficient to say she's "competent" and "unpretentious."