Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Sexual Politics of Writing and Publication

I've heard a lot of hot air blowing around lately about the lack of fairness in the crime/suspense/mystery writing arena(s), with regard to gender. I'm all for being fair. Heck, I'm a member of the Sisters In Crime, for crying out loud! But maybe it's not all about gender.

Here are my opinions, for what they are worth:

(1) If you write crime/mystery/suspense, you CHOSE to write it. Therefore, if you think the competition from the "other side" is too intense, maybe you need to write something else. The thing is, men have been writing this stuff for longer than women have; it only makes sense that there are more of them represented. It's logical, even if it isn't "fair." I have yet to see, in my over fifty years, any worthwhile endeavor that is always and inherently "fair." Even Life is not, and it was devised by a Higher Power than any human.

(2) Conversely, if I went into the romance genre, where women are the predominant writers, I would have no recourse to whine and moan about the competition being overloaded with women. There again, women have been the major writers of romance fiction for years and years. It would be patently stupid of me to gripe about men not being adequately represented.

(3) I'm not so foolish as to think that no bias exists. Sure it does. But it's not unique to Crime/Mystery/Suspense writing. Bias exists, in one form or another, in every form of endeavor and/or competition. Chess teams don't get the kind of financial backing that basketball teams do, and women's basketball teams don't usually get the kind of financial backing that the men's basketball teams do. Kids in inner-city schools don't get the same breaks that the kids in suburban schools get. All else being equal, white men usually have a harder time getting a small business loan than white women do, and ethnic women usually have an easier time getting a small business loan than white women do. (Remember, I said “all else being equal.”)

Get a grip. Write. Write your very VERY best. Submit, and submit it again if it gets rejected. Polish it, put it in an envelope and kiss it goodbye as you submit it once more.

Then go sit down and write something else. But don't waste your energy worrying about why someone else gets a better chance than you do.

And to view the results of a recent poll on the topic of "Author Gender versus Genre" in the crime, mystery and suspense fields of fiction, go HERE.

No comments: