A couple of people have asked whether I'm attending the World Fantasy Convention in Madison. Yes, my husband is heads the board of directors of the organization that oversees the convention from year to year, and yes, this year's theme, "The Architecture of Fantasy and Horror," would be a perfect venue for me, since in the 1980's I edited two anthologies of architectural horror, The Architecture of Fear, for which I won a World Fantasy Award, and Walls of Fear, for which I was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. But NO, I'm not going.
I would leave it at that, because of course with every convention there are some people who can attend and some who can't and many of those who can't can't for reasons that are not fair, like not having enough money. And certainly, over time, I've gotten to go to a lot of conventions. But I wanted to spin this out for you a little in terms of science fiction and its social policies and what happens specifically to women.
A while back I wrote a bit about the situation of childcare at conventions at which I was able to show up. I had great difficulty being able to attend the convention program because of the lack of childcare at conventions. While other people attended the program, I would usually be in the halls with my kids, no matter how interesting I might have found the goings on inside.
People took me seriously. In response to may complaints, some changes were made. Not enough, but some. I had an impact.
But now, for the most part, I am not getting to those halls in the first place. One of our book contracts was not renewed and so money is tight. The Glasgow Worldcon had put me on the best batch of program items I had ever been assigned. But I had to cancel because the plane fares never came down to the level we could afford for a family of four. And back last fall, I had to eat a ticket to France for Utopiales because our family-member childcare for the trip fell through, and we couldn't afford to buy childcare on the open market in Westchester. (I haven't managed to get to Eurpore since Peter was born in 1997.) Between Utopiales and the Glasgow Worldcon, that's two trips to Europe cancelled in the past year.
And I'm not going to Madison. With my son in an elementary school that is very pushy about its attendance policies, we couldn't really bring him given the complexities of getting to Madison. Childcare for the weekend while I went out would be amazingly expensive here. We make $90,000/yr below the median income for our school district, so for the most part, I can't buy babysitting at market prices. (A sitter for an evening out costs about $15/hour around here, so I don't get out much.) The noose tightens, so I'll probably seeing less of people who expect to just see me around, if only in the halls though not in the panels or evening parties.
I would lay on you my grandmother's line, "I'm not complaining, but. . ." (When I was a kid I would always believe her: that she wasn't compaining, even though that line always prefaced a complaint.) But it would be a lie: I am complaining. But I'm telling you folks in the science fiction field about this not because I expect you to fix it for me, but because I'm sure I'm not the only woman you are losing access to over things like this.