Friday, September 7, 2018

Which groups are more privileged than you? A handy list.

All numbers are for US median household income in US dollars, rounded to the nearest dollar.

Note: Many people say education explains income. They fail to note that education is expensive, so it's easier for richer groups to get the education for jobs that pay well. The old observation applies: correlation is not always causation.

The takeaway: Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, and Hindu Americans are the most privileged groups in the US.

Race

Asian Americans: $81,431
Caucasian White Americans (not Hispanic): $65,041
Median household income: $56,516
Hispanic Americans (of any race): $47,675
Native Americans: $39,719
Black Americans: $39,490

Sources: Median household income by race or ethnic group 2016 | Statistic2016 ACS shows stubbornly high Native American poverty and different degrees of economic well-being for Asian ethnic groups | Economic Policy Institute


Religion



Source: How income varies among U.S. religious groups | Pew Research Center

More: List of ethnic groups in the United States by household income - Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

An update on the gentrification of fandom

Neil Gaiman shared this, making it one of my most popular tweets:
In 1960, you could buy 10 comic books or three 35 cent paperback books for about $1, the minimum wage. Today, an hour's work at minimum wage, $7.25, will buy two comics or one paperback.
When a few people noted that it's hard to find a paperback under $7.95, I added:
To be precise, an hour's work at minimum wage will buy you a paperback for children, but not for adults or young adults: "School Library Journal: The list of average book prices for 2016 and 2017 to date."
I also recently shared Who Reads Science Fiction? - SFWA:
The Bowker Review says about sixty-five percent of book buyers make more than $50,000. My survey indicates science fiction readers are wealthier: seventy-two percent make more than $50,000. A majority of Sci Fi readers make more than $80,000.
That didn't generate much attention, probably because fans tend to be wealthy enough now that it doesn't surprise them. I suspect, like people who go to Disneyland, that they just take that for granted.

But fandom was more accessible to the working class back in the day, and not just because books were cheaper when compared to the minimum wage. I would love to know the cost of a Worldcon membership over the years—I do know it's usually been too expensive for me. My bet is that when compared to the minimum wage, it's far more expensive now.

That cost of admission affects everything about fandom. I've talked about gentrification of the genre before, so I googled to see if I'd said anything relevant now and found Simon Penner's Social Gentrification | Status 451, which begins:
Earlier this week a friend of mine was talking about nerd culture, and was surprised when I mentioned that I don’t like it. I avoid nerd culture and, despite being the exact target demographic, find it uncomfortable and unwelcoming. My friend found this puzzling and asked why. 
“It got gentrified,” was my reply.
I recommend reading the whole thing. Penner has smart observations about fandom and gentrification, both the good and the bad.

I also stumbled on a fair summary of my position at A response to George R. R. Martin from the author who started Sad Puppies | Monster Hunter Nation. Keranih commented:
People have said “I’m going to try to read more written by women.” They’ve said “I’m going to try to read more translated works” or “I’m going to try to read more by minorities.” (As Will Shetterly pointed out, they hardly never say “I’m going to read more by low income writers.”) 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Did anyone ever say women are destroying science fiction? No.

 I shared this on Facebook and Twitter:
Has anyone in the last fifty years actually said women are ruining science fiction? When I was a boy in the early '60s, one of my first faves was the ubiquitous Andre Norton. By then, her readers knew she was female.

Because of her, I thought Andre was a girl's name.
A lot of discussion follows on both sites, but after several days of discussion and googling, the answer seems clear. No one ever said that. Based on the evidence, no one ever even thought it.

Some readers suggested one of the Sad Puppies might've said it, but two of the five most prominent Sad Puppies are women, Sarah Hoyt and Kate Paulk. Their Hugo Award lists include winners like Nnedi Okorafor, Hao Jingfang, and Naomi Kritzer. It couldn't have been said by a Sad Puppy.

Others have suggested Vox Day or one of the Rabid Puppies must've said it. But a glance at the Rabid Puppies' slates show VD also recommended women every year, including one winner, Hao Jingfang. So if anyone associated with the Rabids said women were destroying science fiction, it had to be someone who disagreed with VD's slate.

If no one said it, where did the idea that someone believed women are destroying science fiction come from? It's especially odd since most scholarly fans believe Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was the first modern science fiction novel. Who would say women were destroying a genre begun by a woman?

The phrase was bandied about in 2014 (see Women Destroy Science Fiction! - Lightspeed Magazine and Review: 'Women Destroy Science Fiction!' : NPR). It appears to have come from a speech by Pat Murphy in 1991:
What seemed significant about my friend’s confusion was that it related to a persistent rumbling that I have heard echoing through science fiction. That rumbling says, in essence, that women don’t write science fiction. Put a little more rudely, this rumbling says: “Those damn women are ruining science fiction.” They are doing it by writing stuff that isn’t “real” science fiction; they are writing “soft” science fiction and fantasy.
The people who cite Pat don't seem to notice that she said "put this a little more rudely"—she was commenting on her impressions, not on what anyone actually said. The end of her paragraph reveals the real source of the disagreement: fans of hard f&sf dislike soft f&sf, regardless of the gender of the writer.

For as long as the genre has existed, subsets of writers have loved their subgenre and thought the others ranged from foolish to destructive. But those writers didn't make their division on the basis of gender. Andre Norton was SFWA's sixth grand master, chosen before Clarke, Asimov, Bester, or Bradbury. For decades, everyone knew Leigh Brackett was female—she was the first woman to make the short list for the Hugo in 1956. Three years later, three women were finalists: Zenna Henderson, Katherine MacLean, and Pauline Ashwell. The idea that science fiction was for men could not be defended after the 1950s, and as more women entered the field, the Hugo Award reflected their presence—see the list of women who won Hugos at Hugo Awards | Geek Feminism Wiki.

Does this mean women didn't encounter sexism in the last fifty years? Of course not. The field still has sexists of all genders. It only means that "women are destroying science fiction" is a meme, and like all memes, it obscures at least as much as it reveals.