Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Taking the Russ pledge

The fabulous Cheryl Morgan has written a blog post, Female Invisibility Bingo, about the post I did at the weekend about how women writers' sf gets disappeared. The comments are wonderful: smart and constructive.

And then there's this post in the Guardian, by David Barnett, "The incredible shrinking presence of women SF writers." The comments devolve rapidly. Not for the faint of heart.

Between them they form a sterling demonstration of how the post frames the response. Also of different audiences producing different results.

To be clear, in this blog (and in life in general) I'm only interested in moving forward, in improving the visibility of women writers on the shelves and in the media, and securing that visibility for the future. I don't give a fig for assigning blame.

The single most important thing we (readers, writers, journalists, critics, publishers, editors, etc.) can do is talk about women writers whenever we talk about men. And if we honestly can't think of women 'good enough' to match those men, then we should wonder aloud (or in print) why that is so. If it's appropriate (it might not be, always) we should point to the historical bias that consistently reduces the stature of women's literature; we should point to Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing, which is still the best book I've ever read on the subject. We should take the pledge to make a considerable and consistent effort to mention women's work which, consciously or unconsciously, has been suppressed. Call it the Russ Pledge. I like to think she would have approved.