Gender biases in sf
here has been a bit of a blow up on the blogosphere. Starting with Charles Coleman Finlay writing about a gender bias in science fiction writing, and especially in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. And this led to his suggesting a submission bomb, where a lot (hoping for 100) of women writers send in work on a specific day (August 18th) and we see what happens. And there has been some responses. Some positive, some negative. F&SF itself seems to be more happy at the idea of getting more submissions by women. So is there a bias?
Of course this is my opinion, but maybe. But I don’t think it is a planned one. For example, if 100 people, 50 male and 50 female, sent me stories and I had to pick out 10 to publish (and this is no where close to the slush pile they get) it would have to be a rare and wonderful action/adventure war story to get into that top 10. It’s just not what I do. So if a bunch of the men sent in that kind of story…
I’ve gotten rejected from F&SF plenty of times. A number
of them with just cause. The two (good stories) that stick out in my
mind were the story about a woman baking cookies in a futuristic
kitchen and another about a woman tailoring the wedding dresses of a
bunch of fairy brides. Both very female stories. Both rejected in
kind personal letters because they didn’t interest John Joseph Adams.
And that’s okay. Both later got published by paying magazines, one by
a male editor I might add.
I think I’m going to participate in this submission bomb (if I
remember to do so). I have some work ready to go and I hope by that
point to even have a return address to put on it. It will be a good
starting date for submitting again after a summer in transition where I
don’t dare send anything out because it may not get back to me. That’s
And so far, I haven’t felt either held back or singled out because
I’m a woman. Nor have I felt that writing about women’s stories has
been a problem. My stories have sold. I’ve seen books such as The Time Traveller’s Wife,
a quiet story of a marriage, doing well along with the galactic war
stories. If anything, I’ve found most men who are into sf edge more
toward feminism than is typical. The men I know who read sf are just
as likely to pick up a woman writer as a man. The men I know who read
Tom Clancy are not.
In fact, I wonder if this would even be an issue in any other area
of fiction? Do bloggers in the Western genre wonder if there are as
many male as female writers represented in their magazines? Any war
story writers asking these questions? How about romance? I doubt it.
So that the discussion has come up makes me happy to be a fan and
writer of speculative fiction. Whether the bias is there or not, at
least we’re looking and thinking about it.
P.S. Have you noticed both the sf bloggers on this site are female?