Equality in SF&F – Collected Writing

I’ve been writing about the subtle ways in which women writers are disadvantaged for a while now. If anything is to change, it’s important that we all understand the dumb systems involved and how they work to create the unconscious and cumulative biases that add up to a negative impact.

On one level, yes, this is about sexism – but it’s a case of institutional sexism. There’s no patriarchal conspiracy, no cabal of evil men intent on doing women writers down. Dealing with these issues would be so much simpler if there were!

It’s also important to realise that times are tough all round in the book trade, for male and female writers alike. There are ups and downs for everyone. Anyone, even if they’re currently at the top of the bestseller lists, would be very ill-advised to sit back and exepct the cash and kudos to roll in for ever and a day.

And while my focus here is primarily on systemic obstacles for women writers, it’s equally important to recognise how many, if not all, of the same arguments and disadvantages apply to other minority groups within writing; those of differing colour, race and gender to the mainstream.

I’ve grouped these pieces together by theme as far as possible, with those looking at book trade issues following by writing-related posts. Copies of the guest pieces I’ve written for other websites are followed by links to posts on my own blog from oldest to most recent, and with the posts specifically referencing Waterstones gathered together.

Lastly, I’m also including a few related pieces assuredly contributing to this debate, including those relating to panel parity at EightSquaredCon, Eastercon 2012, where I served as Chair for the Committee collectively committed to promoting equality.

I think I’ve found everything that’s relevant from my own blogging. If you know different, let me know. I’ll aim to update this page as new things come along.

Guest Posts

Everyone Can Promote Equality in Genre Writing (for SFX Magazine, 2011)

Inequality of Visibility for Women Writers(for Fantasy Cafe 2013)

Sexism in Genre – Myth or Menace? (for the British Fantasy Society 2013)

The Representation of Women in Fantasy. What’s the problem? (for Bad Reputation 2011)

Writing Characters with Disabilities (for SF Signal ‘Special Needs in Strange Worlds’ 2014)

Blog Posts

What the black scientist Rufus Carlin brings to “Timeless”

Gender in Genre and the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2016

Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes – a masculine view of epic fantasy entrenching bias.

Brief thoughts on women writers being erased from SFF – again
Because articles doing this cross my radar if not weekly, at least once a fortnight. And that’s without me making any effort to find it.

Why the SFWA Shoutback Matters

Reviews, Reviewing, Reviewers and Gender

Is it time for a Women’s Speculative Fiction Prize?

Disability and fantasy fiction – more questions than answers

Where are our Female Villains?

What Do Female Villains Do That Bad Guys Don’t?

Diversity in SFF – some thoughts on some recent reports

Let’s hear it for the quiet girls

There’s a point to ‘rainbow sprinkles’ for writing and ice cream.

“That girl looks like trouble!” The distinction for me between writing epic fantasy as a feminist and writing Feminist Fantasy.


How your choice of good books and new authors to discover is going to shrink and shrink

Equality of Visibility – Progress with Waterstones

Waterstones & Everyday Sexism – the book & the problem in action

Waterstones & Gender Equality. The good, the bad & the business case for doing better

A noteworthy & positive SF&F promotions email from Waterstones!

Waterstones? Yes, I’m still watching…

Eastercon 2013 and Panel Parity

Why we are committing to Gender Parity on Panels (Eastercon 2013)

Panel Parity – what we achieved and how we did it (Eastercon 2013)

Blog Posts with Links To Other Relevant Writing

Discussing diversity & representation in SFF – links round up
Because I’m by no means the only writer to post reflections on this issue.

Epic fantasy and Women. Girls and Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks

Who Gets to Escape? Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown ask a fascinating question.

Links to some gender in genre thoughts (and book recommendations) from other folk

Invisible: essay collection edited by Jim Hines. See Why Diversity & Inclusion Matter in SF&F

Genre sexism. Yes, it really has been one damn thing after another lately.

The Guardian gets the idea! Women do write and read epic fantasy!

Thoughts on accessibility at conventions – Mary Robinette Kowal

4 thoughts on “Equality in SF&F – Collected Writing

  1. Thanks for this post. I now have a lot of catch-up reading to do, and you’ll be finding some comments. (Although–I have to admit to using this excellent post to procrastinate a bit…er…more…than I should.)

  2. Thanks for this, Juliet. Excellent work. I’ve read all the linked articles and your breadth and depth of thought on the subject is satisfying and impressive. I’m repeatedly drawn back to the fact that it’s perception that must alter and that I was attracted to these genres because it seemed like narratives here were uniquely suited to pushing that alteration forward into a more fruitful and equal space, as you say. Thanks for helping clarify and illuminate so many aspects of it.

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