Like Sci-Fi? Good, Help Destroy It.
While censoring the books that have been written is far more noticeable, there is another way stories are silenced: they are never published or never written at all. This is not always so overt as not letting the peasants learn to read or steering clear of more controversial and political manuscripts or not publishing the works of women unless done so anonymously or under a pseudonym (though even today many female writers do use a so-called moustache de plume either of their own volition or at the advice/request of others).
For the most part though, there are far subtler issues at play these days. And the subtler they are, the harder they are to recognize and address. Certain genres, such as science fiction, remain difficult or even hostile environments for women, if the whole SFWA debacle is any indication. Sometimes, this takes the form of industry bias, where a women’s book is not taken as seriously as a man’s or given the same marketing (much more on that elsewhere on the blog) or a short story by a woman is assumed to be of lesser quality than a short story by a man, even if not consciously. Perhaps female writers are given less deference or authority on panels or other industry functions, or experience harassment therein. Perhaps readers and reviewers and other writers shake their heads and honestly think everything is hunky-dory, never realizing that their to-read stack is a literary sausage fest.
Sometimes, women are pushed towards other genres or sub-genres where they are either more welcome or presumed a better fit (because women can write sci-fi, just not “real sci-fi” or “hard sci-fi”). Sometimes, girls are told sci-fi is not for them long before they even think of writing it, whether overtly or through more subtle means. Whatever the reason, wherever along the line they are lost to other genres, other careers, or lost altogether, women are still a minority in SF, from the slush pile to the review pile to the hallowed shelves of the so-called classics.
Lightspeed Magazine means to change all that. Already featuring a more even gender ratio than one might expect in any genre, much less one that it still definitively a boys’ club, a single frustrated tweet about women destroying sci-fi got such overwhelming response, that they decided to make a special issue of it. Women Destroy Science Fiction! will be written and edited by women, showing the diverse array of female-created science fiction (a genre arguably spawned by a seventeen-year-old girl, mind you).
The Kickstarter to fund it not only met their goal, but, well, destroyed it, getting enough funding for Women Destroy Horror! And, if they raise a little over $5,000 more, they will work with Fantasy Magazine to make Women Destroy Fantasy! Be still my beating heart.
You can read more about Women Destroy Science Fiction! here. I also recommend reading the personal essays shared on the Kickstarter updates, as they’re really good and full of familiar frustrations and a shared love of the genre. In addition, the Kickstarter has some pretty sweet perks, so it’s also just a great way to load up on science fictiony goodness.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s put the X-Chromosome in X-wing and go destroy us some science fiction. And, if you happen to still be looking for that perfect last-minute gift for your Valentine, nothing says love like acknowledging women’s contributions to science fiction. Oh, and science fiction itself. Han and Leia, Spidey and MJ, Marko and Alana, Starbuck and himself, that’s some epic romance right there.
“‘Its bitches like you that are ruining SF. Why cant you leave it to men who know what their doing?’ [sic]” (Qtd in “Science fiction authors attack sexism amid row over SFWA magazine“).
Ruining SF, eh? Challenge accepted.