Feminism: Female Science Fiction Authors

Female Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Still Encouraged to Use Male Pseudonyms.

Studies still show that while women will read books by male authors, men won't read books by female authors — and this might be especially true in some areas of genre fiction.

My favorite part of the article may be the comments, where someone falsely equivalences Romance as a genre (which is not the same thing for many reasons, not the least being Nicolas Sparks) and where someone else states that he doesn't buy scifi if the author sounds female, but it's totally not a gender bias on his part. Of course it isn't!

I will say this, briefly, and it is just my opinion: On an individual level, there is nothing wrong with judging a book based on any criteria you personally choose. No one owes an author their money, and if you want to make a rule that you won't buy any books with, say, the color green on the front cover, or where the cover font is sans serif, or where the author's gender seems to be female, that's your choice. I consider it to be largely a morally neutral choice on an individual level.

Because! Maybe the color green physically hurts you, or maybe you have 2,000+ books at home waiting to be read so you're being super-picky on purpose. Maybe you've had some bad experiences and are practicing once-bitten-twice-shy and you don't feel the need to buy another apparently-male-written novel until you know for a fact that his female protagonist won't have POV sections reading like: "As Luanna walked down the long corridor, she was intimately aware of the sway of her firm breasts under her silk tunic, and the way that the soft material aroused both her curiosity and her awakening youthful urges."

Or like that one author who Husband picked up at the bookstore, whose book started on a spaceship lacking in artificial gravity and within the first ten pages had astronauts shooting around the room after sex because of Orgasm Velocity or some such tripe. Husband reports that particular book edged past "vaguely funny" to "okay, get on with it" to "um, is there a plot somewhere underneath all this" really fucking fast.

My point ultimately being: on an individual level, using Author Apparent Gender as a book selection mechanism isn't "wrong" because there's really not a "wrong" way to go about selecting books for individual reading. Select 'em however you want! I'm not going to judge you.

But! Eventually a collection of individuals becomes more meaningful than the sum of the parts, and that is what these studies are looking at. There's more going on here than just "Bob Johnson won't buy scifi written by female-coded authors." This is happening on a large-scale, society-spanning level: people -- especially boys -- are being taught (consciously and unconsciously) that works created by women are automatically of lower or suspect quality and that these books have to be proven to be up to snuff in a way that male-coded authors do not have to be on a society-wide level.

And these people -- especially boys -- grow up to work in publishing and reviewing, and the cycle continues by pushing women authors into male pseudonyms, and by favoring works written by male authors for industry awards and associated marketing campaigns that are systematically harder for the female authors to receive.

The problem here isn't that some boys won't buy girl-authored stories. If it were merely a question of individual preferences, those preferences would be balanced out by some other boys and girls not buying boy-authored stories. The problem here is that our society disproportionately and as a group entity awards male authors for being male, and encourages female authors to present themselves as male in order to survive and thrive in the industry.

This is an issue, and it's a big one.

(Please feel free to use this thread to recommend female science fiction authors who write under female-coded names. I'm all about rewarding those brave souls who risk their financial livelihood in an attempt to buck patriarchal trends.)


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