Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Official SinC Response regarding Men of Mystery Inclusion in Bouchercon

Monday, November 3rd, the Sisters in Crime board of directors spent many hours discussing the inclusion of a two-hour, 65-men, breakfast event at Bouchercon called Men of Mystery. We feel that the event represents a huge step backward in the fight for gender equity in the crime fiction community. Below you will find the response we have sent to the Bouchercon organizers.

I recognize that some of you will think stronger measures were called for, and others will think we were too harsh. Some of the factors that went into our response include the closeness of the event and the contractual obligations Bouchercon has incurred with the hotel, the hardship forced on the men participating in the event if it were to be cancelled suddenly, and the frustration to fans (and their possible backlash against the entire mystery community) if Bouchercon pulled a "bait and switch" by convincing some of them to register for Bouchercon with the promise that the Men of Mystery function would be part of it, and then withdrew it. 

If nothing else, this situation shows us the ongoing need for Sisters in Crime. I thank you all for being part of this organization, and for your continuing support of the crime fiction community, readers and writers, men and women. I hope to chat with many of you at Bouchercon, about this issue or anything else that's on your mind.


Laura DiSilverio
President of Sisters in Crime

Dear Ingrid and Bouchercon steering committee members:

Sisters in Crime's board of directors and many of our members are gravely concerned about Bouchercon sponsoring the Men of Mystery event during the convention. While we understand your reasons for folding the event into Bouchercon (thank you for sharing them), the message that many writers are getting from its inclusion is that women are still marginalized in the crime fiction community. You may have enticed a few new fans to Bouchercon, and avoided the possibility of dueling events, but at what cost? We know that Joan Hansen has been a stalwart, Raven award winning, supporter of the mystery community for many years, and she is certainly entitled to organize any event she wants to, but when the largest mystery fan convention gives that event its sponsorship and imprimatur - without a corresponding and comparable platform for women - the situation changes.

Our last monitoring project report noted that "taking the [crime fiction] genre as a whole, things are improving for women, but inequality remains and is particularly noticeable when prestige within the genre is factored into the analysis." We would have hoped that Bouchercon would present a level playing field for men and women writers, but that is not the case this year. If this correspondence were taking place a few months ago, we would strongly call for the event's cancellation. Given the lateness, however, and the harm caused to individual writers by cancelling now, we ask instead that an explanation of the process which led to Bouchercon's association with Men of Mystery, an acknowledgement of the unfortunate result, and a statement of future intent be delivered at the beginning of the session. In upcoming years, we urge you to dissociate the convention from Men of Mystery, and support in word and deed the value of diversity and gender equity.

Laura DiSilverio
President, Sisters in Crime


Sarah Glass said...

Barbara Fister posted a nice blog piece on this as well. See it here.

Jillian Scott said...

I appreciate the discussion and time spent on a thoughtful response. I am dismayed by the Men of Mystery event, and yet - I am proud to be part of Sisters In Crime who keep their focus on equality.

Anonymous said...

We did hear back from Bouchercon's organizers and we got permission to post it on our website, which you can see at the above link.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Men of Mystery talk about that Women of Mystery can't? Jokes about women wanting equality without writing equally well?
If so, let's discuss it. Perhaps a session on "Who Is More Equal in an Equal Society?" Look what happens in Orwell's Animal Farm.