Publishing, Gender and Genre

Gender. It’s rarely as cut and dry as male and female in this century, but it still influences a lot of things, and people.

Right now the writers forums, blogs, and news sights are blowing up with articles and commentary about gender roles in SF and fantasy. Articles about women who hide their sex so they can break into the elite ranks of SF, and those that question if they are starved for great women authors, or just sexist. A Tor UK team member even weighed in on the matter, complete with graphs.

4SB4smI will be putting up “Small Bites 4” tomorrow which is Science Fiction. It is the first time I will be sharing my science fiction writing. I’m kind of nervous. I’ve done stories with horror, blood, torture, rape, abuse, and sex. I will never be as nervous about them as I am about something that delves into the science fiction (except maybe erotica).

Why? I chose to use my personal name on my books. “Crissy Moss” isn’t a pen name. It’s me. I kept it because I’m one of a very few people online with that particular name. And it is incredibly feminine. I can’t hide behind “Chris” and still be visible. I chose this.

It’s odd that the two genres that worry me are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. I am afraid to publish in erotica because I don’t want people to judge me because I am a woman that likes sex. And I am nervous about publishing in SF because I know people will judge me for not being steeped in science enough.

Caring what other people think about us… man or woman, this simple foible is enough to keep people lost, alone, and unable to attain their dreams. This very simple fact is why I won’t sit back and let my stories sit on a hard drive collecting virtual dust. Accolades, comments, and compliments are nice, but being true to yourself is far more important. It’s worth risking one star reviews, flops, and hate mail.

I don’t pretend to know why women aren’t as prominent in the SF/F publishing ranks. I think it is a self perpetuating cycle. Fewer women try to publish in SF, so there are fewer SF books written by women. There are fewer SF books published by women, so fewer women see role models in the SF realm and don’t take the plunge.

I do know that it isn’t just about women. Male authors trying to break into erotica often have to use pseudonyms as well, and they usually have to be female, or non-gender names.

And it’s about readers, too. Readers sometimes wont get past the name on the book.

Gender is more fluid then we think it is. Anatomy doesn’t make us who we are. People can change sexes, or act in non-masculine and non-feminine ways, regardless of the equipment birth gave them. There are even those among us who have no affinity to either sex.

True equality… That’s going to take some time.

Some articles about the subject:

Is the book industry sexist or just starved for great women authors?

Women Who Pretended to Be Men to Publish Scifi Books


The best women authors of science fiction and fantasy

The Greatest Female Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors of All Time


4 thoughts on “Publishing, Gender and Genre

  1. Gender, race and sexuality inequality will always be a tough issue, and one that’s important to me. Unfortunately, I always feel like there’s little I can do about it. There’s certainly nothing I can do BY writing: I’m a white male who was born into a middle class family and I have no interest in writing erotica. Not because I’m afraid, but because it’s not my thing.

    I can, however, do it WITH my writing, and try to. We’ve talked before about how people have actually judged me for having “too many” female protagonists. It’s confuses the hell out of me since I write fifty-fifty – you know, like the human race. I try to do the same with race. And I am doing it with sexuality as well, although my books with those characters haven’t come out yet.

    I actually have a different fear – that my writing of characters of other demographics than myself will come off as fake because I don’t know enough about them. I try to keep myself informed. I try to expose myself to as many different sides of life as I can, so that my stuff will come off genuine. But there’s always a chance someone will come at me and say, “Nice job having a token black guy. Too bad he’s a stereotype.”

    Ah well. I think I’ll just keep writing stories and characters that I like.

    • While stereotypes exist for a reason, not everyone resembles a stereotype. People are people. They are all unique individuals with their own hopes and dreams. They just happen to have different colored skin, sexual preferences or religion then others. In my experience the only one that is usually obvious is skin color and language. Even that doesn’t always conform to what “race” is, like the girl I met from germany. Asian ancestry, but very german. Or the guy of mexican decent that couldn’t speak a lick of Spanish.

      I liked Lisa’s notion on the podcast last night… for every 1000 sales expect a hater. And don’t take it personally.

      Most haters aren’t criticizing you, they are criticizing something of themselves that they see in your writing.

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