This week saw me taking a lot of vitriolic hate again from several members of the in crowd in the science fiction publishing establishment. Here’s what happened. I noticed that a group that calls themselves the premier podcast in science fiction, a professional rate paying show called Escape Podcast, was running the fourth iteration of their “women only month” they call Artemis Rising.
Curious about this, I posed a simple question: when are you going to run a men-only issue?
The magazine itself from its professional account responded by mocking me, quoting me in a tweet and unleashing its echo chamber upon me. I was met with derision, mocking, hate, name calling, and I eventually got fed up and started blasting back. Most of those attacking me hard used this as an excuse to show how “evil” I am. A Tor author screen shotted my tweet without showing his first snipe at me from out of the blue and proceeded to rant hard against me on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Several joined in on the hate brigade.
Because I asked a question.
I don’t need a pity party. I know this kind of bigoted hatred is going to come at me every time I get into some serious journalism regarding corruption in the entertainment industry. There’s a simple reason for it: there’s power structures in play here. Most of the people attacking me worked for the podcast itself when I looked into them. A very clear message to any would-be journalist to steer clear of a sensitive topic.
With my journalistic mind however, that makes me more curious. Why is this such a painful question for them to inspire such hatred? They’re supposed to be a professional company that releases fiction at professional rates. The answer I found was staggering.
Much of my interaction came with someone who does work for the podcast. After the initial flurry of angry tweets from him and others calling me names, I hit this guy back like some of the others. But this guy was a bit different, he became open to dialogue and started to tell me the reasoning behind their repeated no-men-allowed months. The excuses wore thin eventually when I gave hard facts and data, which I will present here.
The industry is dominated by men.
They talk about this fairly regularly and they’re very careful now to say “the genre” not the entire publishing industry now because they’re so used to this argument getting called out as false. As everyone knows, the publishing industry itself is so far dominated by women that even groups like Publisher’s Weekly have wondered if it’s been hurting the industry for years. It’s not even a little skewed, but very big, and it’s been that way for decades. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/44510-where-the-boys-are-not.html is an interesting article on that topic. The result of every other genre so far has been to drive male authors out of work and men out of reading entirely – as statistics will show has occurred over the last decades. The Publishing Industry has told men not to read by telling them they’re not welcome.
The focus on genre is disingenuous as the industry itself is fiction book sales. Based on unit sales, science fiction represents 2% of the industry. That means it’s such a small slice that it’s a very niche topic, and it was one where men actually liked to read in the past. But is there really such a discrepancy of men in the fiction field?
If you look at the top publishers, you have Tor who has one of their top editors, Irene Gallo, female. Baen’s EIC is Toni Weisskopf, female. The president of SFWA, the only major professional association of science fiction writers and editors, is female. In fact ,the co-editors of this magazine Escape Podcast are both female – and their associate editors have a staggering six women to two men ratio. Uncanny Magazine, another professional outfit known for their discriminatory issues, popular in the field, which has led to their Hugo award win, also has a female co-editor in chief, with their listed staff skewing toward women. It appears that on the professional circuit, women are as much in charge of this field as they are the rest of publishing. Perhaps not to such extreme numbers yet, but it’s getting close.
Escape Podcast’s response was a snide and rude one, stating that I should go back 20 years and I’d find lots of men-only anthologies. Another disingenuous statement as there were no men-only solicited magazines and anthologies, even in this male-readership dominated genre, one of the only out there where men like to read. Even if the demographics of the field have changed drastically, how does that justify hard discrimination against men today?
They claimed they don’t discriminate, odd with a highly discriminating topic. And interestingly, the numbers seem to indicate a completely different picture. We’ll have more on that tomorrow.