Friday, September 3, 2010

Elizabeth Moon Talks Media Gender Bias

It Ain't Equal Until its Equal  is the topic of Elizabeth Moon's blog, following press coverage of ArmadilloCon in Austin, TX last weekend. As writers of SFR, trying to raise the profile of our genre, this blog is of interest, IMHO. And she does a great job of breaking it down. 

She also references this article about gender bias. I know Sisters in Crime was formed to combat gender bias in mystery reviews and they track the number of women's books reviewed of the majors, comparing them to ones for men's books. Raising the profile did help some through the years, though I believe in the last few years, as review outlets shrank, so did reviews for women's books. 

This is an important topic for us, since it is our gender AND our fiction getting dismissed or diminished. 


  1. I grew up before and during the women's movement, and I tend to think, you don't know bias, but this is also a financial issue. We've all been beating our brains trying to figure out how to raise SFR's profile and find readers and you see this and think, crap.

  2. Okay, had a thought. Maybe we should launch a blog "tour" of "Why Smart Men Read Girl Books" or something like that. I had a friend who handed her son a stack of romance novels and told him he'd to read and learn. While fiction isn't reality, reading what women like to read does provide clues to what we like. IMHO.

  3. Love that story, Pauline! I've always thought more men would read romance novels if they understood they're sort of like users' manuals. :D

  4. LOL! I love that. SFR: A User Manual for Smart Guys!

  5. Brilliant! That's a superb idea, Pauline.

  6. I guess this stirred up a big discussion on NPR. And the debate continues here:

  7. Not SciFi, but my husband just finished Water for Elephants, a truly wonderful book, and was absolutely floored that author Sarah Gruen so accurately portrayed the interior of a man's mind at two pivotal points in his life. I commented that from my perspective the MC's, Jacob's, emotions and internal dialog in that excellent romance (and it is no matter what anyone says) were more human that male or female. He and I talked about how romance is not just a girly thing. The romance was very appealing to him.

    I think if we want to touch men in this way we need to reach out to them in their language. Perhaps the heat level in some of the romance books would bring in some male eyes. lol But also more information about the stories and what they might like about them might help as well.

    I love the idea of a guide, but also perhaps book reviews of romance books specifically targeted at men would help?

  8. While I agree that there are some books written by women, that men might like more than others, the main problem seems to be that there is a division. Men look at their readers AS readers. Women tend to expect their readers to be women and that just needs to change.

    I know I've gotten fan mail from men and women, from READERS. It's time to move on from this paradigm that even women fall into.

    Yes, you do need to change your pitch for male readers, just like I adjust my pitch for any audience.

    So what is the right pitch to guys?

  9. I don't know how I did it, but I have quite a few 11-14yo male fans for my books, despite having a female MC and writing 1st person. It may be that she's not girly and the romance is very understated and the story is full of action. The boys tend to read for the story and action.

    My female fans, mostly college age, love the relationships in the book.

    Most romance novels I've read are too boring in the action department to really engage men's attention. It's all about the woman and men who don't act like real men. Or should I say guys?

    It may help to deconstruct David Weber's Honor Harrington series. His fans are probably 85% male yet he writes about women. BUT his women feel like men with breasts to me.

    I guess I really don't know how to fix this. I do know I'm not taken as seriously as an SF author because I'm female.

  10. Stirred up some debate here, too. LOL

  11. Jaleta, that's why I think SFR is a good place for men to try some girl books. LOL1

    I guess I don't feel like we should have to write books FOR guys, just like they don't write for us, but encourage them to check out our books. They might be surprised. I have guy fans, not just girl fans.


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