This is a message from your space witch. I read through a goodly number of the essays for the Women Destroy SF! Issue of Lightspeed, which were used to support their successful Kickstarter campaign.
In her thoughtful essay, Sheila Finch told several anecdotes related to being a female SF writer. After noting that she appeared on radio shows to fill air time, and that one of the DJ's asked her what a nice lady like her was doing writing science fiction, Sheila said, "About this time, an editor rejected a story, telling me he just couldn’t believe in its science underpinning. I had—as usual—done copious research, and everything I’d speculated about was either on the horizon or perhaps already being done in secret experiments somewhere."
I don't know about you, but when I have confirmation from someone else that I'm "not alone," it makes me feel better. I cannot say how many times this has happened to me; in reviews of published work, I've had documented science PRESUMED to be wrong by the reviewer, who had some type of empirical opinion whatever the matter at-hand was, it was unrealistic because it was a) presented by a dumb bimbo like me; and b) the reviewer hadn't heard of it. Heaven forbid they should ... look it up. Julie M. Jones is presently ordering equipment for her disability that is directly related to the equipment detailed in "To Kiss the Star" (F & SF, 2001, 2002 Nebula Award Nominee). This was questioned at the time. Of course. I even got an e-mail from a guy who said I couldn't write a story about someone with a disability as it was "biased" (or discriminatory, I forget) and furthermore, he was going to sue me! I never saw any lawsuit and I didn't reply to the e-mail.
But it gave me a fast heartbeat for a bit. Back when I actually cared about that stuff and was too naive to know what it really was: garden variety harassment.
Most of the younger writers are commenting that they haven't really experienced harassment or anything "non-supportive" while pursuing their starting careers as SF/F writers. I believe this is true, as I have experienced far-milder incidents in the past 5-6 years than I did in the 90s, and it's not just because I've finally aged out of the grope/slap/2nd grade gum-in-the-hair insult category. I kinda haven't. Most people have no idea of my age unless I pointedly tell them in an effort to ward off this type of fun and games. Most gentlemen (and I do use the term loosely) know better than to enthusiastically put their mitts all over a new acquaintance or someone they literally do not know in a social or work situation. Because they can, like, get in trouble - word's finally seeped through to nearly all segments of society now, including the SF/F community.
But few of the younger writers have yet experienced the "silencing" that's very much with us. Sheila Finch pointed at some of the more overt and literal examples, such as being the only female on a hard science-oriented con panel and getting shouted down (in Sheila's case - over her head - such has happened to me as well) by over-exuberant hollering males with axes to grind, cases to make, and dominance behaviors to illustrate. How many of the younger female writers writing these essays are writing hard, speculative SF? About such concepts as Sheila mentioned, "I was interested in children, and family, and relationships—and I wanted to explore what was going to happen to them in a future dominated by aggressive male ideas."
That is so dangerous.
According to Cheryl Morgan, "Keep writing, ladies; we have a patriarchy to destroy."
I'm no lady. I'm a woman. And I want to destroy nothing. I want to help others to build and grow. I want what I said almost 20 years ago when asked by a dear friend and very wise man, "When you come to the end of a long life, what is it you want to look back upon and say you've accomplished?"
I told him, "I want to be able to say I left this world a better place than when I found it."
This type of thinking is far more dangerous to the destroyers, the denigrators, the dominators, than any type of open threat or battle cry. This is in no way saying I won't fight. I have fought, I am fighting, and I will continue to fight.
The wonderful young women commenting in these essays haven't had the pleasure and privilege that Sheila and I and others in the older age group have of being poked, prodded, whacked, publically insulted (garden-variety and more "special" attempts at humiliation, denigration, patronization) and all of the above all at the same time. They seem to have not yet had the pleasure of having their work declined for review, bypassed, or reviewed late - sometimes with not even knowing that happened - or of struggling to get some type of platform or audience.
They don't yet quite know the incredible feeling of seeing years of discipline and hard work and careful thought bypassed over and over for the most puerile and gassy exhalations of male authors with big platforms and tiny minds. It's to the degree where I've often wondered if in reality, I am confused -- what I think is thoughtful and meaningful -- is so far from what I see presented as good thought that it seems almost an alternate world. Even simple concepts - like "When is the last time you did hard research on anything?" seem unimportant.
The younger writers haven't yet experienced the necessity to devote time and energy to one's family and being a single mother, rather than writing continuously, devoting 100% of one's time and effort to one's writing career. Being unable to do that, because others - in my case, hundreds of others - were depending on me so they could keep their jobs, have a decent place to live, and feed their families. They don't know what it's like to devote a decade to supporting a man and fighting some of his battles for him - because you loved him - and thereby taking what could have been some of the best writing and personal years of your life off the table forever.
They tell themselves that there are no significant challenges for them, certainly not like those faced by PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, who has told others that as a woman born in Chennai, India, she faced the twin challenges of being both female and a woman of color in the corporate world, and openly states she had to work far longer and harder than her male counterparts or "white" counterparts to achieve her position -- as one of the world's most powerful female executives, well-known for pioneering employee and family-friendly, as well as environmentally-sustainable initiatives.
What I have faced has made me stronger. It has made me empirically better than most, if not all, of my male counterparts, who've never had to face the type of opposition I have had just to publish my work or make a few things known to the public. Everything some of these authors say is enshrined in gold and retweeted hundreds of times immediately by adoring fans. Those "pearls of wisdom" are not necessarily pearls. Sometimes they're feces coated in gold leaf; sometimes, the gold leaf frays and the feces blows back. Ever to these individuals' astonishment and amazement -- if that's not last year's SFWA Bulletin controversy -- I don't know how else to define that. While the controversy was overblown for the isolated incident, it was hardly overblown in general. Because people have been putting up with gold leaf-clad feces presented as fine truffles from many male authors and "futurists" for decades.
I'm not saying that the simple change of allowing women and non-white, non-American males to have a platform would rectify the problem. Nor am I saying that everything any woman or non-white, non-American male might contribute would be a delicate, perfect, butter and cream truffle coated with gold leaf rather than a bonus prize from my little dog Gambit dipped in white chocolate.
I am saying that this happens on purpose. People aren't stupid. It's embarrassing for guys who believe themselves to be as smart as Einstein but better-looking, to be shown up by quiet, dignified and thoughtful women like Sheila Finch. Yes, they're threatened, fellow writers. And yes, they will fight. And don't forget the power of inertia. The people who make money off this type of person and phenomenon will not give their percentages up without a fight. And do not consider yourself exempt. No one is.