Yesterday I read a very thought-provoking post by author Delilah S. Dawson on the topic of sexism in the publishing industry — specifically in the science fiction/fantasy arena. I can't even begin to summarize her words in any way that will do justice to her experiences, so take a moment and go read her post…I'll wait.
Finished? Good. My turn.
Before you dismiss the idea of sexism in the industry, I'd like to point out that Delilah's post (which had received 67 comments the last time I checked) was inspired by another one written by bestselling author Ann Aguirre (435 comments at last count). While I've never experienced anything nearly as traumatic as either Delilah or Ann have at conventions, I've been very cognizant of the attitudes they describe and I've been on the receiving end of snubs and patronizing airs from both writers and readers. I've never been much for conflict (perhaps it's the pacifist Doukhobor genes I inherited from my father's side), so at the time, I chose to ignore the snubs and put them down to just plain bad manners. But when I read stories like Ann's and Delilah's, I realize that it's about more than just ignorance. It's hurtful, it's demeaning, and it's wrong.
Folks, this isn't about flag-waving or whining. It's about a pervasive attitude that needs to be hauled out of all its dark, nasty little corners and into the bright light of the 21st century. Writing a good story has nothing to do with an author's gender, and the ability to enjoy a good story shouldn't have anything to do with a reader's gender either — or his/her race, culture, or anything else. Do I think this issue is symptomatic of a greater one? Yes, because doing anything well has nothing to do with gender, race, culture, or anything else…but that's a bigger problem than I can begin to address here.
So I'll stick to the one at hand.
Ann and Delilah are right. It's time we started speaking out about sexism in our industry or — just as with anything else that we tuck away and ignore — nothing's going to change. I'm still not expecting myself to be very good at the whole conflict thing (it really isn't in my nature), but neither am I going to sit back and let others fight my battles for me. The discussion has begun. I'm choosing to participate.
What about you?
Addendum: Since I posted this, other writers have spoken out, too. Male writers who are just as appalled by the fact that we even need to be discussing this topic…again. You can read Chuck Wendig's posts here and here, and another by Paul Anthony Shortt here.