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So a while ago, a long long long while ago, I used to discuss issues on my blog relating to feminism and the gender disparity in SF. Lots of those conversations would get derailed and pulled back into what we coined “Feminism 101″ – that’s like when we all are mid conversation and then have to stop and convince someone that sexism exists. And those of us who were mid conversation and kept getting stopped just at the interesting bits, got frustrated. Stopping to explain Feminism 101, prevents the rest of us from moving beyond that conversation and into the crunchier bits, the more interesting parts of the conversation. That’s kind of where the idea of Galactic Suburbia came out of. A place where we could have a one or two hour conversation and not get derailed and prevented from delving.

In and amongst the blog posts at the time, we would note the gender disparity in anthologies, in which authors were being collected and in awards shortlists and winners. And at the time, people would say “oh it’s just this one” or “it’s not as often as you think” or … bleurgh go find the feminist bingo (women aren’t there cause they aren’t any good, I read for quality, I read for reasons other than gender but happen to only read/like male authors, not as many women get published/write/submit etc etc etc etc *yawn*). We had all those conversations. For years. It got boring. And so for the record, I don’t engage anymore not because those view points are right and I lost but because I’m over there –> *elsewhere* <– doing more interesting things. But the one thing I was determined to do then, and remain doing on Galactic Suburbia, is to continue to point out gender disparity on ToCs and on awards lists so that it doesn’t go unsaid and it doesn’t get pushed away and under¬† a carpet somewhere. When an award or a ToC bucks that trend, we point that out too because 1) yay and 2) isn’t that interesting! and 3) doesn’t happen all that often.

Mondy has crunched some recent numbers for gender breakdown for the Ditmars this week and shows an interesting change of more women, overall, in fiction being nominated for Ditmars. Interesting to note is that this number wraps up novels, novellas and short stories into 1 number. Whilst I’d be interested to see what the breakdown across these three categories is, it’s still an interesting graph. It shows in the last three years, more women than men (in total, for these 3 categories) have been nominated for Ditmars.

The question of course is, what does that mean? Did we go too far? Are we now looking at further disparity? Are men being persecuted and experiencing sexism by the voters? Are more women suddenly being published than men?

I think that these questions are hard for me to answer given that I have more than 1 horse in the races here (both in terms of the works nominated and the commentary being made on the awards). I have not made it any secret that an objective of mine is to showcase Australia women short story writers.

I don’t, though, think there is need for us to panic that the menz are in trouble just because an odd year or two show shortlists dominated by female writers. Noone panicked for decades when they were male heavy, afterall. And I don’t think the quest is for every category to have equal numbers of men and women, every year. I think parity in fact could be seen in years of all female, or even all male, shortlists. *As long as* those years are the outliers and not the norm. And that’s really the point isn’t it? The sky isn’t falling down just because more women were shortlisted this year. It’s the greatest number on the ballot in these categories, probably, for the lifetime of the award (no numbers crunched to support this statement). Doesn’t really say anything. It doesn’t correct for the long term trend.¬† And unless we have 50 years of only women making the shortlists, I don’t think we need to panic, just yet, about the reverse injustice.

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