The back-cover blurb to Margaret St. Clair’s Sign of the Labrys (1963)
(found at Mimsy Were the Borogoves)
As a woman genre writer covering the spectrum from science fiction to mystery, fantasy to (a very little bit of) horror, I have witnessed the different treatment of female and male writers. The covers change if the author is male or female (in 2013 there was a big discussion about Coverflipping – I highly recommend searching on that), major panelists at conventions are skewed to white male, Internet attacks are different – males are attacked for politics and females are attacked for … well, being female. The list goes on. And if the author is of color, the differences in America are even stronger.
But the fact remains women have been major influences of all forms of genre writing from the start. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is generally considered the first work of science fiction.
And yet female authors are quietly moved from the sci-fi and fantasy area to the romance area if a bit of romance appears in the story. This happens despite females making up the majority of the national readership; the number of female readership is at least partly because females make up the majority of the population. But if you look at book reviews and national reading lists published by major news outlets, females often don’t even appear on the list. Only with the advent of blogs and online resources have book reviews of female authors have come to equal standing of male authors.
For my blog, I have tried to make an effort to cover both male and female authors in blogs, author spotlights, and book reviews. Not the easiest thing in the world. And I admit, I fail horribly at covering different ethnicities.
More on this topic can be found at the following blogs:
Juliet E. McKenna – Feb 15, 2016 – Brief thoughts on women being erased from SFF – again
Juliet E. McKenna – (date unknown) – Equality in SF&F – Collected Writing (this is a Wiki of blogs on the topic)
The Guardian – Sept 23, 2013 – The Stella Count: why do male authors still dominate book reviews?
Maureen Johnson – May 13, 2013 – Coverflip: What Now?
The Frisky – May 9, 2013 – Check out these Gender Swapped Covers
Huffpost Books – May 7, 2013 – Coverflip: Maureen Johnson Calls for an End To Genderifed Book Covers with an Amazing Challenge
Flavorwire – April 1, 2013 – Are Book Covers Different for Female and Male Authors?