I came across this the other day and it looked so interesting it pulled me away for a while from constructing my summary. That post and subsequent published article (to be found here) were inspired by this post. I had never thought women were particularly disadvantaged in the world of publishing nowadays. I thought that had ended…well, I don’t know exactly when but it’s not like we live during the time when Andre Norton felt a male name was the only way she could get a foot in the door. She’s not the only one in literary history to do that. Thing is, I thought we’d gotten past that since I can now look at a bookstore shelf and see female names right next to male ones.
After reading the links, I’m not so sure. I mean, I looked at the New York Times Best Seller List but that’s not very helpful if you think about it. The hottest thing right now is romance, and romance is typically dominated by women. Because of that domination, using the NYTBSL is practically useless in determining gender bias.
But by dismissing the romance novels on the list, am I, in fact, dismissing women and showing my own bias? I don’t know if it’s because of our culture (I tend to doubt it) or if it’s because of something inborn, but women do tend to focus more on relationships than men. How many men do you see browsing the “Relationship” aisle at Barnes & Noble? With more women writing fantasy and science fiction, of course you’re going to have more romance in a story. At least, I hope you do. Heck, the reason I began writing seriously is because it seemed every fantasy novel I picked up at the time did a horrible job with the romance. (To be fair, I’m also very picky about actual romance novels. Just so you know.) When I wrote my latest novel, the best parts for me were the romantic moments. In fact, according to this small article written several years ago, my novel is crawling with girl cooties. Even though it has an action sequence at the beginning that thrilled my husband, guys probably will put it down once it gets “mushy”.
I would say more on this topic, but it’s such a subjective debate when you start talking about the value of a genre. Hopefully, when I’m done with this summary (that’s another post) I’ll be able to do more research and/or see if anyone else has taken a look at possible gender bias in the U.S. market.