Fantasy author Intisar Khanani featured a great guest post on her website this week, in which SFF author Anela Deen examines the challenges female sci-fi writers face in creative circles. The incisive piece really hit home for me. Although compelled to respond, I don’t have a Disqus account and my remarks are unreasonably lengthy for website comments, so I’ll use my own online platform to join the discussion!
In her article, Deen describes how male and female members of her critique group responded differently to her latest sci-fi story. (I liked it, but is that just because I’m a girl? Grab a free copy and decide for yourself.) Despite the rich tradition of female sci-fi writers, we still fight marginalization. Deen’s experience resonated with me on a simmering personal level: when a literary website posted about my debut novel Blue Karma in 2015, they assumed I was male simply because I’d written in the science fiction genre.
These narrow attitudes are not limited to literature, either–I’ve also encountered flagrant sexism in my technology-focused career field. For example, at a recent symposium one man assumed I was an event assistant because only about ten percent of the actual attendees are female, and another man interrupted my professional discussion with someone to inquire whether I “have a family”, as if my marital or parental status were relevant to my work. It’s a maddeningly antiquated battle to be fighting in the twenty-first century. Bad enough we have glass ceilings in reality without encountering them in fiction, too.
Sci-fi fans of any gender will find the post insightful. Thanks to Intisar for hosting the piece and to Anela for her trademark candor. It’s reassuring to know I have sisters in sci-fi!