The day before Mother’s Day is as good of a day as any to be really open about my experience with this, right?
Here we go.
Two years ago, when I was brand new to writing and researching everything under the sun, I ran across articles suggesting that women hide their gender with a pen name. To someone who obviously couldn’t hide her gender in A&P school or while flight instructing, this was the strangest thing I’d ever heard. To my knowledge, no one ever refused to fly with me because of my gender–and if they did, I certainly never heard about it.
And aviation is known for being sexist. Surely an industry as progressive as literature–as one as full of women as literature–wouldn’t have problems with…sexism. Right? How could it? I grew up reading women authors and wonderful female characters and never gave them a second thought.
Then I finished my first piece, a short story with a female scientist protagonist. Some people loved it. But it would have been better if the main character had been a man, someone said.
Huh. Well, that’s weird. But it’s just one person, right?
Then came the troll who attacked my work on Amazon with multiple one star reviews because I’d stood up to him when he questioned my knowledge of science.
And then the reader who said he wasn’t interested in my book because he “doesn’t like women in his science fiction.”
Hmm, I thought. Maybe there’s something to this sexism thing.
And even later came yet another one star review of Asrian Skies, one that called my 28-year-old protagonist a “young girl.” It doesn’t take a lot of imagination–maybe just a tad of experience with this kind of thing–to figure out what kind of person needs to slam an adult woman like that, in direct contradiction to historical fact (yes, actually, women make terrific spies and have for hundreds of years).
Why am I posting all this? Because it’s not ok that sexism still exists in the literary world. Women exist. We write books. We have adventures. We even, believe it or not, fly spaceships. Yes, in 2018 (as far back as 1963, if you want to get specific), not in some science fiction book in the faraway future. We deserve the chance to have our words read and our stories told.
So. Go buy a book written by a woman. Or about a woman. Or maybe even both.
And don’t stay silent when you see or hear of this kind of thing–even when it relates to the sensitive issue of reviews.
Author Defends Sci-Fi as A “Purely Male Domain” in Cringingly Sexist Review of All-Women Anthology
Male writers still dominate book reviews and critic jobs, Vida study finds
Women Who Pretended to Be Men to Publish Scifi Books
“He Won’t Read Books About Girls”
Why Won’t Men Read Women?