(Charlie's away and his blog has been taken over by invisible assassins.)
It's as regular as summer thunder. A very serious article or a very serious tweet or a very serious wonder-aloud in a convention bar.
"How come women don't write science fiction/fantasy/insert subgenre-not-romance here? Or why haven't they written it since, like, well, last week when I read one by a lady and I thought it was pretty good and I think, did it win an award or something? But there aren't any others and I don't get it." Sometimes with bonus, "Do I have to write it myself?"
I used to say I had a superpower. In person, online, you name it. I'm invisible. A very famous publisher once said, "She might as well write in invisible ink for all the notice she gets."
That Buffy episode with Invisible Girl? Yep. Except the part where (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) she's whisked away at the end to a secret training facility for spies and assassins.
Point being that not only was she not alone, she had a whole tribe to belong to, doing important and deadly things. And the visibles of the world would never see her coming.
It's that dratted second X chromosome. The X factor. Crosses you right out.
Women have a shelf life. When they're young and cute, they get attention--a fraction as much by the numbers as the boys, and often relegated to the short reviews or the niche commentators, but it happens. Then as they age, the boys become revered elders. The girls undergo a winnowing process that pulls out one or two as tokens of their gender, and those are the wise ones, the names always cited when listing women in genre. The rest are erased. And the very serious pundits inquire, "Why aren't there any women in genre?" Or, "Why didn't women write in genre before, like, last week?"
They did. We did. All the way back. We have always been here. We have always written science fiction.
This is what the Women in Science Fiction project is about. And the Women in Science Fiction Storybundle ((link explains the concept, and lists the books in the bundle). Along with many lists and shout-outs and twitterstorms.
It's not even conscious. Hear a woman's voice, see a woman's name, slide right on by. Just today I had a twitter conversation with a very nice man, very concerned that women writers weren't featured in a certain popular series on a certain eminent blog. He was trying to redress what he saw as unfairness.
And yet that series contains multiple entries by and about women writers. They're talked about, read, commented on. They get good numbers. My contribution has been going on for over a year now and is in its second set of books by one woman writer.
Invisible ink. Hear no women, see no women, take no notice when women speak.
And the older the women are? The more invisible, inaudible, unnoticed they are. Unless they're the tokens, of course. The "I included her, therefore I included all women" names that are on every list, because that makes it all right. Right?
Lucky for us publishing has changed so profoundly in this millennium, and works that used to be erased are now coming back--and with them, the authors who were dropped and silenced over the years. Lucky too that the culture has shifted and people of all genders are more aware of what's been happening, for the most part subliminally, to anyone not straight, white, male.
We were here all along. We never stopped being here. Now, finally, we're not letting ourselves be dumped off the shelf. Even by very serious people with very good intentions who just, you know, didn't notice. And think it's terribly unfair.