“Kerfuffle” is such a great word.
I’ve said before that my usual mode of feminism is to wander blithely about doing whatever it is I feel like doing, happily oblivious to factors that are supposed to be oppressing me into not doing said thing. I won’t claim it’s the best mode in the world, but it works for me.
So apparently one of the things I’ve been oblivious to is a perception that F&SF (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, for those not eyeball-deep in the field’s jargon) is unfriendly to women writers and/or readers. As in, they publish substantially more men than women (a verifiable statistical fact), and perhaps publish fiction of a more “masculine” type (an evaluation that’s being vigorously debated in many places). This all came to my attention through a pair of posts by Charlie Finlay.
The chain goes thusly: Fewer women send stories to F&SF than men. Fewer women are published in F&SF than men. (Side tangent on the chain: this may mean fewer women read F&SF than men.) This creates a perception that F&SF is not friendly to women. Therefore, fewer women send stories to F&SF than men.
Watch it go round and round.
Charlie’s suggestion to fix this is to schedule a day (August 18th) for a hundred women to send stories to F&SF. I haven’t waded through the morass of responses to his suggestion, but I did make a comment I decided I wanted to elaborate here, namely, that I have no particular interest in participating. Why? Because I send to F&SF all the time anyway. I have no fewer than thirty-four rejection half-sheets from them (some from JJA, some from GVG), and I’m expecting my thirty-fifth any day now. Some women may have given up on subbing there due to a perception that they aren’t welcome, but I’m not one of them. I could send in a story that day, but I don’t really see that it would constitute much of a message.
I’d be more interested if the campaign was to get a hundred women who have given up on sending stories there, or who never tried at all, to send something in. Reportedly both John and Gordon have said they would like to publish more women, but they don’t get enough subs from them. Provided they’re telling the truth (and I’m happy to grant them the benefit of that doubt), then we don’t need to be sending a message to F&SF. We need to be sending a message to the women who are avoiding it. (And, perhaps, F&SF needs to send out a message of its own — but that isn’t in my control.) Bombarding F&SF, not with women as a blanket category, but with voices they haven’t been hearing, strikes me as a more meaningful response to the situation.
One way or another, once “Selection” comes home, I’ll be polishing something up and adding to their slush pile once again. If I’ve felt unwelcome there (i.e. those thirty-four rejections), I’ve attributed it to my lack of writing skill, not my gender.