And So It Has to Be Said Again

Thought I’d start doing a periodic posting of interesting snippets. I don’t have time to write about all of them in depth but they will be things that I think are worthy of your attention.

Anyone following me on FB and Twitter will have seen my links to Nicola Griffith’s blog discussion about Women Authors in SF, which was a response to an article in The Guardian online. I was delighted to see that this was followed up on by The Guardian again and garnered a wide and varied response. Though, I admit to be depressed by some of the comments, it was great to bring this into an open debate.

I’ve had acerbic comments cast at me for posting these links, which I found rather insulting. Have published eight SF novels now (and written nine, plus numerous published short fiction SF stories), I feel I have a reasonable grasp of my reading audience. I don’t purport to being an exceptional writer but I am readable, entertaining and coherent and have been nominated for and won awards.

I know from personal experience that there is an antipathy and sometimes animosity to women writing SF by SOME readers. It’s there, it’s real. Many won’t even try reading work by a woman, or do so with such ingrained bias that it’s hardly worth their while. I’m still being regularly asked by emerging female SF writers (most often people I don’t know) if they should write under a masculine pseudonym so that they will be read and accepted. The day I don’t get that question anymore, will be a day for celebration.

None of this is news to female writers in genre but in the ebb and flow of change, there are moments when things need to be reiterated. I sense this is one such moment. I’m staggered that we (the reading community at large) STILL harbour such bigotry that women are STILL frightened to write under their own names. It makes me think that we are closer to Mira Fedor’s (reference: Sentients of Orion) world than we care to acknowledge.

Thankfully, I have many readers of both genders who are intelligent and open-minded and to them I nod. You, and your children are the hope for our future evolution as a species.

  • Maree Kimberley

    Hi Marianne, great post. It seems totally bizarre to me that gender is even an issue here. Good writing is good writing, plain & simple.

  • Ros

    I’m curious about how far this bigotry extends. I assume all successful authors will be exposed to detractors, and some of them will be crazy extremists. This attitude that women can’t write good SF strikes me as as sure sign that the person holding it is hideously under-educated in the genre.

  • Seems it’s not just limited to genre fiction V S Naipaul made a goose of himself here:

  • Marianne

    Hi All, thanks for you comments and taking the time to read my thoughts.

    Sean, Naipaul’s comments are scarcely believable.

    Ros and Maree, prejudice lurks in places you wouldn’t expect.

  • I like my protagonists to be female so I can really get into their heads. On many levels I am biased because I (will probably get tsk’d at for this) don’t think men always have the ability to get US right as women. So I look mostly for female authors, no matter the genre.
    I make few exceptions to my rule, and I know I am totally missing out of a huge chunk of the magnificent literary world.
    I’m just as narrow minded as the nay sayers and poopie heads that say women aren’t as good as men at writing sci fi.
    Them’s the breaks.

  • Emoon

    Is there still gender bias? Absolutely. There’s been some progress in the quarter century I’ve been in the game, but not much. I remember when an angry male subscriber dropped his ANALOG subscription because there’d been a story by a woman (one story out of perhaps 8-10) every month for several months. Another (I think it was a different fellow) who did not see any real science in Bujold’s serial (the biology and technology of human exo-reproduction clearly slid past him.)

    You don’t see that quite as much anymore…but I still get comments bragging that someone doesn’t read any books by women or/and with a female protagonist. One man asked why I didn’t write more books about men, because “men need books to read, too.” (IOW, though the libraries are full of books by men and about and for men, a mere female writing books should be sure to write them for and about men, so as not to deprive the poor dears.)

    At a recent convention, I ran into men who–at the mention of a woman writing fantasy–shrugged and rolled their eyes and said “Oh–unicorns and rainbows.” That kind of ignorance is no longer innocent: they must have deliberately avoided reading reading the work of women fantasy writers. Besides the man who never read books with women main characters, and the young male writer who was sure no women who had ever written the kind of books I (and some other women) write…it was an interesting current experience in where the bias is this year.

    When men don’t read books by women, they don’t know what women write, and thus cannot make sound judgments about them.

  • Belinda,

    I say read what makes you happy, far too many books to read to be reading what you won’t like.

    But it’s good to admit your narrow minded poopie headedness :)

  • Marianne

    Hi Elizabeth, thanks for your comment. How anyone could ever think that your books wouldn’t appeal to both genders is beyond me. As you say … ignorance.


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Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 





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