“I am a woman. I write SF. And it’s not acceptable to treat me as anything less than an equal. I won’t stand for it. And I won’t get your fucking coffee,” sci-fi author Ann Aguirre writes in an impassioned blog post detailing sexism she has endured from fellow writers and fans of the genre. Recounting episodes of being asked to get coffee by a writer she was sitting on a panel with, and being called “the token female” by the (female) moderator of another panel she was on at Comic Con, Aguirre says many male sci-fi fans also dismissed her work.
“The one bright spot,” Aguirre writes, “was my experience at KeyCon in Canada, where I was not only made to feel welcome but valued. Not a single soul at the con questioned my credentials or my quality of fiction, due to what I don’t have in my pants.” But overall, she says it got so bad she stopped attending science fiction conferences for a time.
Publishers Weekly contacted Aguirre to ask her how the sci-fi community and the industry at large has responded to her blog post. In addition to receiving hate comments and mails, Aguirre says writers like Neil Gaiman and David Brin have publicly expressed their support.
Unfortunately, sexism is not limited to sci-fi. Bestselling author Jodi Picoult tweeted “Would love to see the NYT rave about authors who aren’t white male literary darlings.” Author Jennifer Weiner concurred: “I think it’s a very old and deep-seated double standard that holds that when a man writes about family and feelings, it’s literature with a capital L, but when a woman considers the same topics, it’s romance, or a beach book—in short, it’s something unworthy of a serious critic’s attention.” Weiner’s bestselling books are often patronizingly categorized as “chick lit.”
Of the 545 books reviewed [in the New York Times] between June 29, 2008 and Aug. 27, 2010:
—338 were written by men (62 percent of the total)
—207 were written by women (38 percent of the total)
Of the 101 books that received two reviews [in the New York Times and the Sunday New York Times Book Review] in that period:
—72 were written by men (71 percent)
—29 were written by women (29 percent)
A repot on VidaWeb.org shows that reviewers disproportionately reviewed books by male authors in 2012 too. Ironically, New Republic was the worst culprit. Less than 17% of the books reviewed by New Republic were authored by women.
Aguirre told Publishers Weekly, “The positive I see coming from this is that we’ve broken through the wall of silence, where it’s better to swallow our shame and outrage. If we’re united in our determination to demand equality and respect, the situation must improve.”