WARNING: The following post is a expletive-laced rant containing feminism. You've been warned.
So... How are you?
I'm having a small crisis. You see, yesterday the always wonderful Marie Bilodeau wrote THIS blog post about writing as a woman. She wrote it after having read THIS article, which I later went back and read. Another awesome Ottawa area writer, Linda Poitvin, had tackled the issue earlier in THIS article, which I only read yesterday.
And you know, having read all this, I feel a deep sense of anger. And shame. I also feel shame.
I'm angry because I know it's tougher out there for women writers than it is for the men. MRAs get lost. There is plenty of evidence that confirms it. In the study of human interaction, it's called unconscious bias. The people discriminating against women are often not aware that that's what's going on. They don't realise that they're passing on brilliance because the name at the top of the manuscript is feminine.
Some people are perfectly aware. I've had a male friend remark to me that he deliberately avoids books written by women because (and this is a direct quote), "They only ever write about relationships." Fuck you. Fuck you right in your ear. First of all, everything is relationships. That epic battle in the gladiatorial arena I just finished writing? That's about a relationship. It's the relationship that gladiators have to one another, about the relationship they share with the audience, with their owners, and with the fat prick who decides their fate at the end of each fight. Now, none of these are particularly healthy, but they are relationships.
Political drama? Relationships.
Intelligence Thriller? Relationships.
It's all fucking relationships!
Secondly, I write genre. In my opinion, I write good genre. Relationships (in the strictly romantic sense) do happen in the stories, but they are not the story. They are not what my books are about. Fuck you for assuming that I don't know how to write genre. Fuck you for thinking that the only genre I would write as a woman is romance.
Note: there is nothing wrong with writing romance. Plenty of people absolutely adore reading it. But don't tell me what I write because of your idiotic fucking notions of what it is women writers do.
I've also had an argument with a man online, who claimed that the inability of many male writers to write convincing women is perfectly acceptable. Writing convincing women is hard. But if a woman write does not write a convincing man? Well, she's just not a good write.
Clue: if a writer cannot write a member of the opposite sex in a believable way, they are not a good writer, it doesn't matter their fucking gender. Writing is hard. You don't get a pass because you have a penis and "writing women is hard." Writing is hard. Period.
I also, as I mentioned, feel ashamed. I consider myself a feminist. And yet, knowing the bias surrounding women writers (particularly those of us writing genre), I chose not to embrace the struggle. I opted for my first two initials and my surname. I mostly chose it because I thought it looked really cool.
I still think it looks pretty cool.
But I also chose that because I knew how difficult it is for women writers. I researched ridiculous amounts before deciding to try and earn a living from my writing. I knew it would be harder to do so if the name Sonia Carrière was on the book cover, instead of S.M. Carrière.
And Marie and Linda are absolutely right. This bias against women will not disappear unless we make it disappear. The bias will not go away until it is normal and unremarkable to see a woman's name on the cover of books. That can only be achieved by having women's names on the cover of books.
Yet so many of us are hiding behind gender neutral names or even masculine Nom de Plumes in order to sell our books. Because so many agents pass on books written by women. So many publishers refuse to publish books written by women. So many readers refuse to purchase books written by a woman.
I hide behind my name.
And now I'm caught. I've spent a lot of time building S.M. Carrière. Do I switch? Should I stay on brand? It is my name. But it masks my gender. I'm not contributing to the fight. But I've spent so long building up S.M. Carrière. It's starting to become recognisable. This crisis is upsetting me.
I've never hid the fact that I'm a woman, or that I'm a feminist (the worst kind of woman, ammirite?) when writing this blog, or making appearances (to be fair, it would be ridiculously difficult to disguise the fact that I'm a woman when I'm out making public appearances). I just wanted to give my writing the fairest shot at success I could.
And I feel I've let my gender down.
And for what? I'm not even remotely successful as a writer.
Anyway, that's my mood today and why. I'm going to forget about it for a while and just practice some Welsh and get back to my writing.