“People have the right to call themselves whatever they like. That doesn’t bother me. It’s other people doing the calling that bothers me.”
~ Octavia E. Butler
I look forward to a day when I’m no longer a “woman writer”, and it has nothing to do with whether I’m still actually writing stories or not. It’s all about the first word in the title, not the second.
There are days when I love the being called a “woman writer”, when I embrace being set apart and even find the word “woman” prepended onto it to be empowering. And then there are days, like the day I sat down to write this, when I’m just over it. The same goes for any other title where “woman” gets inserted. I encompass quite a few of them, after all.
I’m a “woman developer”, a “woman editor”, a “woman in tech”, a “woman business owner”, a “geek girl”. The frequency with which this happens in the various jobs I have and things I do starts to show the pattern, and the problem, at the heart of it.
For myself, I don’t know that I’ve ever introduced myself that way. “Hi, I’m Jennifer, I’m a woman developer.” has never rolled off my tongue that I know of. “Hi, I’m Jennifer, I’m a web developer.” definitely has. Equally, I don’t reverse this for my male counterparts. “Oh, that’s Bob, he’s a male editor”? No, why on earth would I say that?
Interestingly, I’m not a “woman knitter” either, I’m just a knitter and any men who enjoy that hobby are not generally known as “male knitters”. We ahve all heard the term “male nurse” though, and sadly it’s not always used in a positive context. Funny, how that whole gender distinction thing works, right? It’s almost like women and the work they do is considered unusual enough that a distinction needs to be made or something.
I don’t think that things will always be this way. I have a lot of hope for change, no matter how long the road ahead seems to stretch.
For now, I patiently wait and keep working towards a day when I don’t feel the need to tag LSQ’s social media posts with “womenwriters” in order to get attention drawn to what we are doing.
And speaking of what we are doing, you are about to read some amazing, touching, intense, and brillant stories. Any tale in this issue would fit in with the “general population” and stand proudly. None of them would need to be pointed out particularly for it’s author’s gender. But we keep going because there is still a need. In the end, I’m very proud to say these stories were written by a talented group of writers.