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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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modern lit
So Realms of Fantasy is having an all women-authors issue.

And how do you feel about that, brain?

Well, it's always good for women to get published. But on the other hand, I feel certain that there have been all male issues without calling them THE ALL DUDE REVUE. By definition, herding women authors into a single book or magazine and proclaiming it special for their appearance there is, well, segregation, and has an ugly implication that they won't be appearing in regular issues.

Of course, women do appear in RoF. Maybe not with the density we'd all like to see in a field in which women are doing thrilling, daring work, but they appear. So a special issue is all the more emoticon-inducing.

And if this issue doesn't sell, will it be used as an excuse to buy fewer stories by women in the future? Who knows?

But brain, isn't this what we want? A high percentage of female authors in a table of contents? Well, 50% would be good. 40%, too. But creating Very Special Issues once in a 15 year run isn't the same as addressing the problem head on by understanding the psychology at play and changing the editorial paradigm. It's just a bone, thrown.

I guess I prefer Weird Tales' approach, which is to do an issue dealing with gaze and gender, inviting writers specifically to contribute, and welcoming both genders as long as they engage with the subject matter.

I also shudder to think what the cover will be on this. It's gonna be bad, y'all. Bad.

All in all it feels a bit like a way to shut up those of us who criticized the magazine. And this sort of thing never shuts anyone up. Will I be submitting? Prooobably not. The email issue remains, and I don't have a lot of time this year--again with the issue of I get asked personally for stories too often to regularly submit blind.

I think I'd be happier about an All Email Submissions Issue. That would actually address one of the criticisms, and not discriminate against any one group (people who submit on paper can also submit online, I promise), and would be interesting: would quality drop, as has been claimed? Would the workload become untenable, as has also been claimed? Even better, email with numerical codes so that authorial gender was unknown, as in the famous orchestra experiment. I would submit to that so fast.

Because really, I fight the women's visibility issue all the time, by working as hard and as much as I can, as well as I can, and being in those ToCs, with my oh-so-feminine name right up there next to the male ones. I fight that fight, every day. It's not a Very Special Episode for me, it's my whole life. And that's tru for most women writers, I think, if not all of us. The way to win this fight is not to submit to segregated spaces, but to exist unashamedly and frequently in public ones.

But no, we have the hoary old moon-hut issue, where all the ladies sit together and don't touch the boys' stories with their cooties.

And the cover. Well? Boobs, chained women, girls making out, or disembodied ass? Taking all bets!

With the decline in JUGGS RoF is certainly poised to claim the title of America's #1 Big-Tit Magazine!

Click for NSFW image.

I read the title of that site as "Elfwad."

After learning about that study they did what with admitting female musicians to an ensemble (and how the percentage zoomed up when all applicants played from behind a screen that totally concealed their identity, and zoomed up even further to 50 percent when the judges couldn't hear the sound of the applicants' footwear)...yeah, I'd be in favor of a sight-unseen, all e-mail submissions issue.

This one, I mean. With proper details and exact figures and the like...

Great entry (you're on a roll, Cat)! Would you mind, please, telling your friend, Clueless Cooney, what the "email issue" is?

RoF, along with the other big 3 magazines, do not accept email submissions. They insist it would be impossible to do so. Except for super famous people.

It's the whole segregation as solution thing, with good intentions but insufficient thought and thus an impression of patronage (which may be accidental but still points up the lack of real equality). And really by 2010 we should be beyond this.
And yet.... I've participated in an all-female anthology, because we still, as women writers, need to make use of whatever opportunities offered to us. In my 20s, I used to expect a level playing field. In my 30s, one for my female students. Now, I am holding out that when my 5 year old niece hits adulthood, she will really be offered the equality my generation was led to expect. We are a slow species sometimes.

The thing is, I have no trouble getting stories sold without being in this issue, so fraught with problems. It's great if it lets women writers shine. But there are still non gender problems with the magazine and I don't think I'll be submitting. MAYBE. But I don't think so.


I think doing an all-female issue just makes it clear that women are the outsiders, the weirdos, the ones who are separate from "regular" male authors. It gives those not interested in leveling the playing field an excuse to say, "But you got your own issue!" As though throwing someone a feast once a year will keep them from starving on the other 364 days when you ignore them and won't give them the time of day.

And it makes it look like women can't hack it unless you stoop to give them their own little space because they can't compete with the boys on a regular basis or something.

I'm not impressed by a magazine doing an all woman issue, because that's basically admitting that the other 11 months are chock full of gender discrimination. It just makes women more Othered than we already were.

Then again, I haven't been impressed with RoF EVER. *rolls eyes*. Frankly, I don't have time in my life for people/publications that pull that crap. It's 2010, I have internet access, and I can find better venues for getting my sf/f short story fix that don't need to have special issues.

As for boobs, chains or ass? I vote for all of the above in a spectacular threesome of fail.

exactly everything fiction_theory just said.

I guess I prefer Weird Tales' approach, which is to do an issue dealing with gaze and gender, inviting writers specifically to contribute, and welcoming both genders as long as they engage with the subject matter.

Is this a yearly issue that Weird Tales puts out?
I'd love to give them a gender story that isn't in the binary, if that's the case, and maybe should subscribe if it's a yearly thing they do.

I don't think it's yearly, it's something they're doing this year. But send them something!

I think the All Girl ROF should have a hot guy on the cover. Just to keep things balanced... ;)

Yes, cock, arse and chains on the cover. But even better, two guys locked together in imtimate embrace. That would really get some of the male readers wound up. Which brings me to the issue of sexuality and race, etc. There's been a lack of visibility there too. Don't know if it's changed much because I became somewhat detached from what was going on in speculative fiction. The arguments about female visibility have been running for years and years, and nothing ever seems to happen, or nothing much. Those who benefit from the status quo will be the last people to support change. They like things just the way they are.

I can't wait for Harlan Ellison to get offended by some misunderstanding of the issue!

*snorts drink*

True, that.

looking back through RoF back issues I couldn't find an all-male issue, but women are very often outnumbered 4 or 5 to 1 in each. so i think you could relatively safely call it the "mostly dude issue" every month.

but why not have one magazine out of fifteen years that 13 year old girls can look through and say "these are all people like me, i want to write fantasy" because they might not pick up any issue otherwise.

Well, because I still maintain that 13 year olds are not by and large reading Realms of Fantasy. But while there is positivity here, there is still a lot of problems--why not have parity, so that any issue a 13 year old girl might pick up will have something that says that to her?

(Thanks for your comment on Hines' journal, btw)

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But they already do buy a proportion of female authors higher than the submissions rate of female authors. link

How much more are they supposed to buy? I suppose they could consistently aim for 50%, but then the argument that they're locking out the men starts to become viable. :-/

I can't imagine that women would feel unwelcome at RoF in the same way they might feel unwelcome at Analog or F&SF.

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And the cover. Well? Boobs, chained women, girls making out, or disembodied ass? Taking all bets!

Would it be too much to hope for all of those things? And a unicorn?

I support your fight in this area in any way you choose to take it. Discrimination and segregation are hard to figure the right way to fight.

Studies have shown that self-chosen segregated spaces can actually be better for development. There are actually African-Americans who are seeking a more segregated education for their children so that they won't have to deal with race power issues with their education issues. When it is a choice and not geographical forcing of segregation it often has positive results. Similar studies have been found for male/female segregation in school.

Now, I'm not sure about the power dynamics of the writing world. I agree that setting a percentage of women authors may be a great way to do it. There is power in having a context together and a safe space to explore that difference which has been subjugated. The trick is to make sure that quality doesn't go down. The standards of publication would need to be just as high in order for the credibility to remain in whatever source decided to do this. One way to do this might be to make a smaller publication. If 50% could be superb quality work by women statistically speaking, make the issue 50% smaller.

Again I don't know enough about how discrimination works in the writing world to comment much in these areas. Good luck in your own fight. I really appreciate all you do for women with your strong, independent, unique women characters, especially September.

Self chosen is the key there. This is not.

"Even better, email with numerical codes so that authorial gender was unknown, as in the famous orchestra experiment. I would submit to that so fast."

I'm liking this idea more and more...

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What has changed substantially since the 1970s that would have made it OK to do it then, but not OK to do it now?

I think Lee should do the cover, especially since in their feature on him last year the author specifically mentions his strong, dignified women and lack of your basic JUGS approach.

That would be cool, although I guess I'd prefer a woman artist, if they're going the route they're going.