Sarah/Katherine (truepenny) wrote,

quarantining the girl cooties

catvalente has a good, chewy post about Realms of Fantasy's plan for an All Women-Authors Issue. What she says about it, of course, goes for any minority group: women*, African-Americans, GLBT writers, writers with disabilities, etc. etc. etc. I think there's a point in the process of opening a genre where the Very Special Episode Issue is a good thing, when what you're saying with it is, HEY! There are enough [women/African-Americans/GLBT writers/writers with disabilities/etc.] doing excellent work in our field to fill A WHOLE ISSUE! Maybe we should all be PAYING ATTENTION!

But, returning to the specific circumstances, that's really not where women SF writers are anymore, and hasn't been for, jeez, thirty years. Because, seriously, a whole issue of Realms of Fantasy (or any other magazine) is, what? Six stories? Seven stories? Ten if they're small? I guarantee you there are more than ten women writers doing excellent work in sffh. As Cat says, a Very Special Issue is tokenism. (It also suggests, subliminally, that women writers are fragile flowers and can't compete with men head-to-head, that our stories wouldn't be good enough to fill a whole issue without this special enclave, like we're a rare species of owl or something.) It neither causes nor promises fundamental change in the way a magazine is run or the way an editor makes decisions.

I should say here that I don't know what the motivations are at RoF. For all I know, this is a sincere attempt to cut through the male-dominated bullshit and champion the cause of feminism and women writers. And it's a very attention-getting way of doing it. I'm just not sure it's the best way.

[ETA: as jimhines kindly points out, Douglas Cohen explains some of the editorial thinking in the second comment to the announcement.]

*Not, of course, that women are a numerical minority. Tra la.
Tags: feminism is the radical notion, sffh, with my soapbox or on it
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