I’ve been doing a lot of seriously depressing reading about how many women have chosen male pen-names or gender-neutral pen-names over the history of the genre. The most famous and current of these is J.K. Rowling, who was advised by publishers that little boys wouldn’t want to read a book written by “Jo Rowling”.
That is, most often, the reason. For Andre Alice Norton, it was because she wanted to be published at all. For James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon), perhaps the reason was to add a voice of reason without a gender bias attached. There are dozens of these examples, and I was curious as to why we sci fi writers are still being told that men won’t read books by women. There are plenty of studies about whether or not men will read books by women. Yes, there are lots of theories about this.
I thought about writing a piece on pseudonyms, and found I’d be reinventing the wheel. There are many, many good posts already out there. (I particularly liked this one by Amanda Rudd). I also realized that this wasn’t really the point.
Honestly, I think the answer to that is “Who cares?” If a story is strong enough, people will read it, regardless of author name.
I’ve also got a whole post drafted about the whole “Publishers aren’t publishing sci fi books by women” myth. Because the truth is, women aren’t submitting sci-fi books to publishers (at least not to Tor UK, and not in the same numbers they are to other genres).
Then I ran across this clip in reddit:
And it became clear to me. The female authors of science fiction myth …. was borne of and is perpetuated by the “girls are bad at science” myth I discussed yesterday.
Women submit more romance and fantasy because that’s what we’re taught that we’re supposed to like. Well. Ha. No wonder I’m writing science fiction.
I’m not worried about institutionalised sexism within science fiction anymore. Now I’m wondering if I need to drop my gender-neutral pen name and just knock their socks off amazon-style.
What do you think?