oldcharliebrown (oldcharliebrown) wrote,

Sexism and Reviews and Anthologies

This is a response to a message board discussion of this review. What's the number one rule with regards to reviews, generally? Don't respond to them. But then I guess it couldn't be helped, this time around, prompting all kinds of craziness, here. I'll quote only the best, though:

"This tired canard of editor bias has been addressed before, and recently, by first-rate editors such as Ellen Datlow, Gordon van Gelder et al. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of submissions to Panverse--at least 75%--came from male authors, and this editor is not about to enforce any kind of quota or positive discrimination to 'shield himself from accusations of sexism', as you put it. Stories are accepted solely on merit, and nothing else. To suggest otherwise only reflects the accuser's own bias and slavish belief in the bankrupt ideology of political correctness. "

The old "merit" excuse rears its ugly head . . . ignoring the fact that so many other variables do go into submissions.

"If the implication that publishers--any publisher--have a gender bias is given any credence, pretty soon editors may well start glancing at their acceptances or TOCs, and be tempted to lower the bar, imposing a quota to guard themselves or their house against allegations of bias."
Because attempting to make your anthology better, by outreaching, is seen as lowering the bar? WTF.

"The gender disparity in published SF isn't the result of bias in the editorial story selection process. The gender disparity exists because men, in general, are more disposed to enjoy reading SF than women, in general, are. More men than women enjoy reading SF, and thus more men than women write SF."

. . . and this is based on what evidence?

It isn't all bad, though:

"[Our] world [has] a long history of denying women's voices, even in this country. In light of this history, although I can't fault an editor for publishing "on par with the women who have submitted," there's still something rotten with society when the numbers can become so skewed. Also, some publications in [this] world do give the impression that they have to almost be going out of their way to exclude women. It happens. Such publications do cause questions to be raised and considering our history and the tenacity of culture to sustain itself, it's difficult in many of these cases to actually exclude sexual bias as a motivating factor. In regards to women and fantasy, that they may be making many inroads there is no accident.


"In light of this long history of silencing and dismissing women's voices we've had . . . coupled with a nontransparent submission system, are the words, "I also hope that subsequent issues feature at least some female authors. A 100% male author list suggests a bias, which I’m sure is subconscious, but it’s a statistical anomaly that makes me look askance at the impartiality of the editor," fighting words? To me, they're not."

They're certainly not fighting words, I'd have to agree. But they do give some food for thought, and the hope is that something is learned from all this.
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