An Editor’s Lament

No, not mine. But I do have similar problems.

There has been a fair amount of talk around the blogosphere of late about the fact that, despite women buying and reading more books than men, reviews in mainstream newspapers are mostly by men, about books by men. Today Katy Guest, Literary Editor of The Independent, entered the fray, mildly blowing her newspaper’s trumpet, but also lamenting how hard it is to get women to submit material to be published.

I feel her pain. I have managed to buy some articles by women for Clarkesworld, but by no means 50%. I am trying to make a conscious effort to seek out more women writers, but they do seem to need to be encouraged, and men don’t. Despite my making a conscious effort to get women involved in Salon Futura, all of the guest articles I have published to date (as opposed to articles by columnists) have been by men. Hopefully that will change soon.

Of course there may be other reasons too. Currently Ms. Guest’s article has just two comments. Both of them are from men making snide “jokes”. It is an inevitable truth of today’s “have your say” culture that articles by women, especially intelligent articles by women, are liable to attract the attention of male trolls. Then there will be the mansplainers, who feel the need to explain to the poor girly, in words of one syllable or less, the truth of the matter that she is so hopelessly seeking to understand. Often they will parrot your points back at you, apparently unable to conceive that you could have make them yourself. Obviously you’ll get intelligent, helpful comments from male readers as well, but the trolls and mansplainers are pretty much inevitable.

Some of my male friends seem to relish troll comments and take them as a challenge. I suspect that far too many women look at comments feeds, shake their heads, and wonder why why anyone would both to put themselves in the stocks to have insults thrown at them.

But, to shift metaphors a little, if we are not prepared to stick our necks out a little, then there will always be more articles by men than by women, and we will always live in a culture in which is seems that men are the source of intellectual authority. So please, ladies, could I have some submissions to Clarkesworld and Salon Futura?

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5 Responses to An Editor’s Lament

  1. Are you looking for particular topics/themes? My apologies if this is posted elsewhere and I haven’t found it yet.

    • Cheryl says:

      For Clarkesworld I’m looking in particular for women writers with specialist knowledge of areas that might be of interest to SF&F readers and writers. That might be someone like Kari Sperring with her academic interest in Celtic history, or it might be someone like Sarah Goslee with her career in environmental science. We are also open to submissions for articles about the writing business and the craft of writing. Submission guidelines are here.

      Clarkesworld does not accept literary criticism, but Salon Futura is looking for exactly that: in depth reviews, literary essays, that sort of thing. The submission guidelines are not so well developed but they are here.

  2. I just got BACK a submission to Clarkesworld with no-thanks attached [wry grin] (admittedly fiction, but still…) I’ll look at your non-fic guidelines a little more closely and see if I can contribute…

    • Cheryl says:

      There’s no problem finding women fiction writers for Clarkesworld. Neil is able to reject at least 95% of the submissions he gets. I get nowhere near that number of submissions.

  3. Lisa Hertel says:

    Interestingly, I just proofed Poul Anderson’s “The Star Plunderer” (1952) for NESFA Press’ next volume of his work (which we call Anderson 5). I was taken aback by how horrible it was to women. I starts with a woman (the heroine) seemingly on par with a man, but quickly descends into chauvinistic attitudes, platitudes, and finally, a misogynist rationalization by the man (hero). I’ve read a lot of old SF, and I know it was the attitude of the times, but this was particularly bad.

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