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 Post subject: Sexist comment
PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:36 pm 
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Is anyone else fed up with Stories by Women?

Just thought I'd begin with that to grab attention - I don't mean stories written by women, of course, that really would be a sexist comment, but I mean collections like 'Vampire Stories By Women Writers'. (I think I made that one up, but you know what I mean.) Is it not a little sexist to make the 'women' part a (sub)genre to itself? What next, Stories by people with blue eyes? Stories by people over 5' 10"

I'm genuinely interested in people's views here. As a teacher of English, I'm always intrigued by people who make the writer's sex a factor regarding their writing. I can understand how a collection might want a FOCUS on women, but I feel specifying the WRITER to be female is a bit discriminating...


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:44 pm 
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i have similar feelings on this. writing should be writing... no matter who it is by. and how many men use womens names as psuedonyms and vice versa...

do you feel the same about 'black writing' i always despair slightly when i see a 'black' section in bookshops or when writers feel they have to add that as a description of themselves - can't people just be writers and be judged on the merit of their work?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:19 pm 
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Yes, I do feel the same about that. It's not even sour grapes; it's not because I'm a man and therefore can never contribute to Women's Writing, but if I were a woman I wouldn't like being separated as if different to the norm. To have women's writing suggests, to me, that all other writing is male. Which, of course, is daft.

I do understand that there may be autiobiographical elements to writing (and I must emphasise 'may') but even so...

To even suggest that one 'type' (sexual, racial, whatever) writes differently to another 'type' is far too broad.

And don't even get me started on Shiela's Wheels.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:58 pm 
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I wonder how many editors would pass a double-blind test on author gender?

Some years back on the (sadly long deceased) BBC 'Big Read' board, we used to have a game where someone would post up four extracts and the rest had to guess things about them from the quoted text alone - such as: were the authors male or female? were the books considered literary or genre? etc. Interestingly, none of us were as good as we thought we would be at telling 'literary' fiction from genre, or male authors from female.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:29 am 
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It would be interesting to discover that one of the 'Women' in such a collection was a man writing under another name - that would make a mockery of the entire thing...


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:20 am 
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I know of at least one male writer who got published in Quality Women's Fiction using a female pseudonym. Not me, I hasten to add.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:30 am 
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^i've heard of a few being in 'womens' anthologies writing under other names which always seemed to subvert the whole thing of it for me.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:45 am 
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Coming at it from the opposite perspective, there is also James P. Tiptree Jr, whose masculine voice was praised, but was in fact a woman.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:19 am 
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The same was true of many writers in the 'early days' - ironic, huh, that we've gone from women pretending to be men so they can write, to men needing to pretend to be women to write in exclusive publicatons!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:02 pm 
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do you lot reckon it's the same for 'gay' writing?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:31 pm 
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Are there books/stories that claim to be written by gay writers only then? Shame on them. I can see how we have gay fiction and all that, (and queer readings, as universities love to call them - turning Jekyll and Hyde into a coming out the closet story!) but specifying anything of the writer him/herself is just wrong, surely.

Can you imagine on the shelves: 'Ghost Stories Written by White Heterosexual Men'?

Imagine - only women can write about / for women, only gay people can write about or for gay people, black, etc etc. How would we get stories about serial killers? About space travel? I once set a story in Nevada but should I have lived there first?

Okay, I think I've ranted enough now. Just glad it wasn't only me feeling annoyed by such things.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:02 pm 
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If I recall correctly, back when he wrote a column for Interzone, Charles Platt recounted how, in an attempt to be progressive, Barnes & Noble established gay literature sections in their stores (NB subject matter, not author orientation, though not surprisingly many of the writers for whom gay characters were the default setting were also gay). One of the writers who found their work 'reclassified' was Samuel R. Delany and because SF readers could no longer find his books in their section his sales fell accordingly.

Actually, I don't have much of a problem with 'women only' anthologies. If somebody wishes to showcase the strong female voice in a genre where they're generally underrepresented then I don't see why it should be a problem. What I would argue though, is that it could be better achieved by publishing retrospective volumes of 'best' stories by women writers, rather than by soliciting new work along gender lines.

Same thing for anthologies showcasing black writers, Welsh writers, young writers, Christian writers, or any other sub-group including gay writers, though in the latter case I'm not sure exactly how you determine if potential contributors qualify without becoming intrusively personal.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:50 pm 
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^fully agree - how difficult would it be to prove i wasn't black by correspondance? let alone gay etc!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:30 pm 
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Interesting article here:
http://www.mslexia.co.uk/magazine/featu ... nda_1.html

Now, there are aspects of it I find myself nodding at wholeheartedly, while I find others somewhat patronising. (And I'm not sure Arvon attendance should be taken as a measure of anything.) But at least it's a considered article on the subject.

If someone out there wants to produce an antho by female writers, I wouldn't particularly be enthused to submit, but I'm not going to complain either. I wouldn't have a problem with an antho of white males of the age of 43, I don't really care - good luck to them for celebrating creativity in whatever form. I may or may not be eligible, but there are other opportunities out there: I'll just move on...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 4:39 pm 
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I think a bit of positive discrimination can be justified in such a male-dominated area. For example, in the books from The Women's Press science fiction line it said:

Quote:
We hope that the series will encourage more women both to read and to write science fiction, and give the traditional science fiction readership a new and stimulating perspective.


I think a collection of black or gay science fiction writers would be a good thing, if only to point out that they exist, something that's not exactly common knowledge.


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