Sexism, Novels and Me
My thoughts are all jumbled up. And my old friends are going to think I have a chip on my shoulder (and maybe I do).
There's been a lot going around SFF blog communities about the ingrained sexism. I guess it's SFF's year for it. In the past it's been racism; it's been sexism in games (it's always sexism in games), it's rape culture, it's an election year.
This year: Publishing and sexism, extraspecial focus on SFF.
Yeah, it's a thing. So is racism. Blame the business, if you want. Blame the need to appeal to the most people to get the best profit margin, if you want.
And people are talking about it. They're talking about it and that's good.
But I hate that whenever a white man talks about racism or sexism or both, the conversation stops being about the problems and starts being about how awesome that man is. Even if the post is perfectly fine, the comments– oh, the comments. Thank you, thank you, great job, we need more men like you, oh thank you. This, this, I would have said this if I'd thought about it, this, thank you. You've nailed it. Congratulations.
(And I think: It's thanking somebody for announcing that it's bad to trip people.)
And my thoughts are all jumbled up. Because sexism is a thing. Sexism influences what people take seriously and what people dismiss. It influences what they think other people will want to read. It influences how they describe something. It influences how they interpret something.
And I'm happy anytime anybody exhorts others to rise above their biases.
But there's always a way out, you know? When readers, inspired by one of these conversations, swap the names of favorite women authors, I wonder about the authors who never get into the mainstream because they don't even make it past the agents. Because anywhere, any conversation, people will casually throw out the idea that anything actually good enough will be published (and published by the publishers they approve of).
After all, there are plenty of books published that buck the sexism status quo and they're all really good .
(But everybody knows that when the ladies make it past sexism they're the best of the best, right?)
I would like each of these bloggers who go post about Sexism! It's a Thing and We Should Stop It– I'd like them to find an author none of their readers have ever heard of, and I'd like them to fight sexism (or racism or whatever) by promoting an author who might have been overlooked by the mainstream of SFF publishers because of her gender (or her name or her race) or because her book doesn't conform to institutionalized genre gender standards. Yeah, there are women authors out there whose books pass the Bechdel Test. Find a new one, because there aren't enough.
And yeah, it might take a little more time and energy than an exhortation to the masses upon the 'ol blog platform. It's going to be putting their most precious commodity where their mouth is.
But they all seem so very genuine. I really think they can do this.