Another day, another article supposedly assessing the cutting edge of Science Fiction written over the decades. Citing twenty five authors. All men. No, I’m not going to link. You can find it for yourself at SF Signal if you really want to. Or whatever particular piece has prompted me to repost this.
Like every other such article, it hands women writers a poisonous choice. We can object, with all the hassles and loss of our own working time which that will entail, as the usual counter-objections come straight back at us. That’s best case. Worst case? The full gamut of ugly insults and threats.
Or we can let the erasure stand, damaging women in SF&F, present and future.
Either way, we lose out.
I can easily predict the ways an objection to this particular piece will be dismissed. “It’s taking the long view and since men have dominated historically, the list will inevitably skew male. There’s nothing to be done about that.”
Yes, there is. Research. Start with Octavia Butler – and while you’re there, make a note that erasing writers of colour and those of differing sexuality is equally damaging and yes, just as dishonest.
Then there will be the expressions of concern – some even genuinely meant. “It’s just one article. Does it really matter?”
No, it isn’t just one article. Stuff like this crosses my radar if not weekly, at least once a fortnight. And that’s without me making any effort to find it.
As an epic fantasy writer, I’m just waiting for the first instance of that now well-established harbinger of Spring. The article saying “Game of Thrones will be back on the telly soon. Here’s a list of other authors you might like (who just happen to all be men).”
And if I object to those? “Oh, don’t take it so personally.”
No, women SFF writers don’t take these best-of lists, these recommended-for-award-nominations and shortlists, these articles and review columns erasing us ‘personally’.
We object because they damage us all professionally.
More than that, erasing women authors impoverishes SF&Fantasy for everyone by limiting readers’ awareness and choices today and by discouraging potential future writers
Which is why this matters.
Right, I have work to do, so I will go and do that. If you want read further thoughts on all this, check out Equality in SF&F – Collected Writing