If you’ve been on twitter lately, and you follow lady writers, you may have seen a hashtag pop up. #thingsonlywomenwritershere. It accompanies the comments, and experiences, that women writers face every day. Even today. When I saw this movement pop up, I couldn’t agree with the sentiments posts from fellow lady writers more. Though my experiences are “smaller,” in that I am an indie writer and not navigating a corporate publishing world, it is no less filled with the prejudices that society has placed in our minds.
Women have always had to fight to be heard in a “serious” manner in the writing world. Whether it was writing under a male, or gender neutral pen-name, or writing in a manner that would appeal to male readers, we have had to cater to the prevailed societal pressures: that men drive sales in certain genres. Women were only successful in romance, and “chick-lit” (a genre title I don’t much like). Only a few women were “allowed” into the “all boys club” of fantasy, sci-fi, and action and adventure.
Luckily, we’re in a time where women are flooding these genres. And that’s fantastic. Especially as a woman who loves those genres. But the hardest part is this: I’m hearing people, under their breath, saying that every book is about a female protagonist, and that it is overdone. Overdone? How many decades have we endured millions of books with male leads? And I have enjoyed them, immensely. A few years where girls are in the spotlight does not make up for decades of being sidelined as a poorly written damsel, love-interest, or random assassin girl who has little personality of her own. Don’t just give us a sword, give us a story. Women are CRAVING it.
I’m not saying we don’t need male centered stories. We do. Inclusivity and diversity doesn’t mean shoving the former aside. It means opening the door and letting everyone play on an equal shelf, WITHOUT prejudice about whether it deserves to be there or not. I want my new paranormal fantasy shelved with the likes of George R.R. Martin (not saying I’m on that caliber, only giving a male author example), and I want it sitting next to an Asian women’s story, a black man’s, a latino’s. I want people to look at the story, not the gender or ethnicity of the character.
It’s a lot to ask. But I’m going to ask it, because having people say that I’m a woman writer, writing female protagonists, that my books are only for girls, is a discrimination we’re led to believe is okay. It’s not. And that hashtag, #thingsonlywomenwritershere, needs to be looked at by everyone, men and women alike, and realize what we are doing… so we can stop it, and open doors for everyone.