Let me start out by saying, for the most part, I really like being a woman. The reasons why I like being a woman are a subject for another time--suffice it to say, apart from the difficulties posed by having endometriosis, I have no complaints about my gender.
However, this does not mean I like how some men--and even some women--treat women. Usually, this isn't something that comes to my attention, at least not very often, and I'm glad it doesn't, because it royally pisses me off, and I don't like being royally pissed off.
Which is how I felt, after reading this post by popular science fiction writer Ann Aguirre.
In short, Ms. Aguirre has been treated like crap by fellow science fiction authors and fans alike for the sole reason that she is female. I'm not going to go into specifics here, so if you're curious about them, read her post on the subject that I linked to above.
I was not aware that this kind of prejudice existed in the science fiction community, but I'm kind of glad I learned about it this way rather than learning about it by being a target as Ms. Aguirre did. I haven't made any secret of the fact that I love to write, and that I want to be a published author some day, both of fantasy and science fiction novels. So the existence of such misogyny within that community could have personal ramifications for me if and when I succeed in my goal.
I want to be known simply as a good writer, as someone who knows how to write an entertaining story. The fact that some fellow writers would dismiss me out of hand, without even reading my work, just because I'm female, enrages me in a way I can't even describe.
For the record, I feel like I have to admit that I have not read any of Ms. Aguirre's work. I'm interested in reading both her work in science fiction and fantasy, but I simply haven't had the chance to pick it up yet. However, I know she has a large fan base, and I have it on good authority, from a person whose opinion I trust, that her work is excellent. This whole situation has nothing at all to do with the quality of her work, simply the fact that she was born with two X chromosomes. And that is outrageous.
The whole issue of misogyny touches me in another way that is tangentially related to everything I've mentioned so far. Science fiction writing is a male-dominated field, and any time a woman enters a male-dominated field, there's a possibility that she may become a target for this kind of idiocy.
You see this sort of thing a lot if you're a female gamer, like I am. In various mmo's, admitting to being female in real life may well garner one of two reactions: one, the other players don't believe you, or two, will immediately ask you for a blow job. I have been a target of both reactions, although the only time I met with the latter, it just so happened that I was a volunteer moderator on the site and was able to enact Instant Karmic Justice on the idiot who said it. I hope he learned from the experience, although I very much doubt it.
Obviously, gaming isn't a job, just a fun hobby--at least it is for most people. But not for me: I'm studying Computer Programming and Game Development. I'm going to be designing video games for a living, and game development, like science fiction writing, is a male-dominated field. Thus, the connection.
I'm happy to report that, thus far in my game development career, I have not met with any obvious prejudice against my gender, although granted I'm still just a student. There are a few things you should know, however: so far, all the game development classes I've taken at school have been made up of the same fifteen or sixteen people (thereabouts), such that it starts to feel like we will never get away from each other--I see more of these people than I do my own father, who I live with. In this group, only two of us are women.
And yet, I've never felt that the boys treat us any differently. I haven't spoken to the other girl about this, so I don't know how she feels, but personally, I feel like we're treated just as if we're "one of the guys," so to speak. To be honest, I wasn't sure I'd be entirely comfortable with being one of only two women within my major at first, but it hasn't turned out to be a problem at all. In fact, on one occassion, the group of three guys I was working on a class project with ended up deferring to me for a lot of the decisions, including using an idea of mine as the basis for the whole project. I'm not sure if the fact that I'm quite a bit older than the majority of the guys there has an effect on their behavior towards me, but considering I look a lot younger than I am, I wouldn't necessarily expect them to notice the age difference.
But maybe age is a clue here. The men who treated Ann Aguirre so badly were all much older. The boys in my computer classes are in their late teens and early twenties. That doesn't excuse the first groups' behavior in the slightest, but it does give me hope that things are changing for the better.
That's really all I have to say on this matter for now, and I'm glad to get it off my chest. Actually, there is one more thing I want to mention: I've always thought my dad was a bit of a chauvinist, and to be honest, he is a bit, but he's nowhere near as bad as those SF writers. My proof is this: he tried to teach me how to golf. Considering the fact that it was an impatient right-handed person trying to teach an impatient left-handed person, it went about as well as you might expect, but hey, he tried, and it didn't matter at all that I was a girl.