Isaac Asimov is one of the best, if not the best science fiction writer that has ever lived, but that shouldn’t excuse him from criticism. Or people calling him a dick, which he kind of was when you realise he was notorious for sexually assaulting women at science fiction conventions.
As noted in the image above, Asimov was well known for his penchant for goosing women, which is how British people say “squeeze someone’s ass” when they’re trying not to be rude. And to be perfectly clear, we don’t mean Asimov was known for giving women he knew a playful tap on the derrière (which would still be kind of gross), we mean he was the kind of dickhead who thought poking someone in the almost-asshole was funny or flirty.
To be clearer than an Angel’s negligée about this, pinching a woman’s ass is 100% sexual assault and we welcome anyone who thinks otherwise to insert a pool cue into their anus sideways. But we digress, in 1962 Asimov was asked by the organizer of a Sci-Fi convention in Chicago if he’d give a talk about the positive aspects of touching a woman’s lady-lumps without her consent. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the organizer also offered to provide Asimov with some voluptuous volunteers to demonstrate the proper technique of being a lecherous shitlord first hand.
Asimov ended up turning down the request, though he did express interest in taking the organizer up on the offer on the day, if they managed to track down some literal, fine-ass women. Just for a second imagine if something like this happened today. Imagine if tomorrow it emerged that Chris Evans had been sexually assaulting women at Comic-Con and instead of punishing him, the organisers asked him to come on stage and demonstrate how he did it. Actually that’s probably a bad example because we refuse to believe Captain America would ever be a dick to anyone.
But we’re getting off topic, Asimov’s habit of pinching asses is so well known that there are dozens of anecdotal stories across the web of women meeting him and then immediately regretting it when his wandering hands tried to get just all up in their business. Now of course you should take any anecdotal story with a pinch of salt, but keep in mind, Asimov was so notorious for doing this that someone once literally asked him to demonstrate it on stage. Hell, in the letter the organizer wrote to Asimov the first thing he mentions is his “reputation” for pinching women’s buttcheeks and it’s noted that if he ever had a female handler at a convention, it was pretty much guaranteed that he’d try to grope them, even if his wife was there.
What makes this doubly odd is that Asimov believed himself to be a feminist, he even went on record as saying that he supported the right of women to work and do other cool things like ride jet-skis and practise Karate, all at a time when that sort of thing absolutely didn’t fly. However, before you read too much into that, we should note that Asimov’s primary reasoning behind wanting women to have options beyond marriage and childbirth is because he felt that without them, the world would become overpopulated and we’d all die. Yes, Asimov supported equal rights for women because he was scared that without them, they’d bury the world in babies.
Does this change the fact Asimov wrote some of the most influential science fiction books of all time? Probably not, but we should be careful not to let the more unsavoury aspects of famous people fade from history, even if they make us uncomfortable.