In case you’ve been away from the internet for 12 hours, controversy of the moment is Harlan Ellison’s having groped Connie Willis’s breast onstage at the Hugos on Saturday. Commentary from: Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Gwenda Bond, Catherine Morrison, Gavin Grant, and Ed Champion, the latter featuring a picture from the same event. A representative sample, from PNH:
Just as with George W. Bush’s now-famous uninvited shoulder-rub of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the basic message of Ellison’s tit-grab is this: “Remember, you may think you have standing, status, and normal, everyday adult dignity, but we can take it back at any time. If you are female, you’ll never be safe. You can be the political leader of the most powerful country in Europe. You can be the most honored female writer in modern science fiction. We can still demean you, if we feel like it, and at random intervals, just to keep you in line, we will.”
It’s not okay. It’s not funny. It wasn’t a blow against bourgeois pieties or political correctness. It was just pathetic and nasty and sad and most of us didn’t want to watch it. It’s another thing that’s going to stop.
I wasn’t there myself, but if it’s as reported by Patrick and others, then clearly there should be some kind of apology/making amends. I’ve certainly not seen any accounts which deny it happened. (Though it should also be recorded that Ellison has in the past done non-zero amounts of work for women’s rights, specifically – to my knowledge – the ERA.) In the meantime, your quote for the day, from Ellison’s introduction to Joanna Russ’s “When it Changed”, in Again, Dangerous Visions (1972):
I’m not trying to start a fight here, you understand, but like newly converted Jews or Catholics, like lifetime cigarette smokers who’ve put down, like alcoholics now on the wagon, those of us who’ve spent the greater part of our lives as male chauvinists get terribly zealous in pointing out the gentlemen in our midst who are still wrong-thinking offenders. […]
What [Joanna Russ] is, is a fine writer, getting better every year. What she’s proving – and “When it Changed” will serve in large measure to further that proof – is that speculative fiction up till now has indisputably belonged to the men, but that squatter’s rights to that territory simply aren’t good enough any more. Not with talents like Joanna Russ around.
And further, she looks infinitely better in a bikini than any of the editors who rejected her novel.