The Gender Debate

May I be serious for a moment? I also need to add a disclaimer, in that his is my personal blog and expresses my views, not those of altfiction, WEM or the 50/50 campaign.

It’s happening again. A big kerfuffle about the lack of women on panels at events. The last big kerfuffle an editor who i know to be very conscientious was victim of some very unfair vitriol. That pissed me off.  There  are  plenty of articles about the lastest fuss so long story short, I found myself being nudged to help set up and administrate the 50/50 campaign. I will not e acting as spokesperson, once the site is up and mission is stated I will be very much background on this.

Now those of you who know me know anything like this usually sends me in the other direction fast. I avoid anything that smacks of feminism, I didn’t get the issue over Sherlock, it usually leaves me shaking my head in confusion and diving back into pinterest.

Thing is I think there may be a case to answer here. I don’t believe in positive discrimination, it’s still discrimination and it’s still illegal, as such I don’t support quotas. None the less we are talking about genre fiction. Crime events are often around 50/50, but female writers have long been a strong and active force in crime writing. It’s not even as though women write cozy’s and men write bloodfests, with Patricia Cornwall and Kelly Slaughter leading in a shift to a more bloodthirsty trend in crime.

In genre it’s acknowledged for a long time it was dominated by male writers, but that hasn’t been the case for years. The make up of event crowds is now about 50/50, this is no longer a boys world. Why is it then that at the events all the female fans and upcoming writers are faced with panels of men.

Oh i’m not blameless in this, organising alt.fiction I have seen first hand how hard it is to achieve any kind of balance. It’s hard to know what women are available because they don’t tell you, a lot of writers I like I don’t even know what country they are generally in. You turn to people you know, the people who always attend, always put themselves forward. So nothing changes. I’m keen to see this addressed, not only in gender, but I think that genre fiction would be richer for more representation across the board. I’m with Fruit Bruise, step forward if you are lesbian, gay or transexual, if you are asian or black or a refugee, if oyu are emergent or excluded. I don’t just want to see more women I want to see more of everyone.

I’ve already been told a genre event will be a hard sell in the asian communities because they aren’t interested in writing it, but wouldn’t genre fiction be richer for a wider range of perspective and cultures?

So why would I get involved in something that on the surface looks like just the sort of thing I hate?

Because I think, in this case, something does need to be done and it needs to be done right. Because this musn’t be a witch hunt but a facilitation, because most people involved in genre events are aware and conscientious about it however it may seem from the outside. For me this isn’t about pushing women forward, it’s about making sure if they want to talk they get the chance, for making genre fiction all inclusive for fans and writers a like.

again, these are just my views, they don’t represent anything I am involved in.


About Aunty Fox

'Fox Spirit is the crazy young aunt who dances in the rain and conjures fantastic worlds out of cardboard boxes, loo rolls and sellotape'
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