I had this post almost ready to go for a while, and a few friends asked for some useful links – so here they are. This is basically a list of links with ammo for when I end up in discussions about sexism in SF/F publishing, sexism in gaming, sexism in Scandinavia, and some related stuff. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it might be useful to someone.
This is my own resource for when someone says “sexism doesn’t exist in [insert field here], because I haven’t seen it”. It’s statistics and studies as well as essays; both hard facts and theory, if you will, and they correspond to the arguments I usually face myself. They’re usually of the type “there’s no imbalance/there isn’t a demand/it’s all in your head”; so here are some statistics and studies for that. The other type is “but it’s only a vocal minority who harasses people/so explain to me how this is bad/why is this important anyway?” So here are some essays for that.
What I would like to add further on are links that show how bias works, because we still have to puncture the “this only happens because women don’t work hard enough/aren’t aggressive enough/are crazy people” argument. There are studies on how text is judged differently depending on whether the author’s name is given as male or female, for example, which I’ll dig up later. If you know which one I’m talking about, feel free to post it in the comments. There’s also a need for more links on intersectionality.
Without further ado:
Some general links
“Scandinavia doesn’t need feminism anymore.” These numbers are from Sweden: På tal om kvinnor och män, a 2012 publication with statistics on the general state of gender equality in Sweden.
The report Kvinnor och män i näringslivet 2013 is a look at gender distribution in jobs.
Here is a PDF with some statistics from SCB (Statistics Sweden) on how much time Swedish men and women spend on housework.
A lot more areas to cover here obviously.
Studies and documentaries
Swedish female journalists, columnists and bloggers have become targets of violent, sexualized threats. Journalists often receive threats by assorted disgruntled readers and tinfoil hats. This new epidemic, though, seems to be new. We’re talking threats of rape, death by rape, other sexualized violence, comments about the subject’s sex life, appearance and so on. It’s centered not on what the journalist/columnist does, but her identity as a woman and sexual object.
För lite kuk? (Not enough dick?) A study of harrassment of female columnists (Swedish)
Uppdrag Granskning: Näthat TV documentary about online sexualized threats directed towards women (Swedish)
Interesting studies from abroad
Are feminists more hostile to men than non-feminists? No, according to this study.
Does criticizing sexual entitlement demonize men? No, this essay argues.
Fandom and SFF publishing
Gender representation: Sweden
Very little info to go on, because the scene is tiny. We can look at some things. The label Delta Science Fiction was for a long time almost the only source for translated science fiction. It was originally meant for internal distribution in a science fiction society, but eventually became popular because those translations couldn’t be found anywhere else. 9 out of 208 books published between 1972-1988 were written by women.
Johan Jönsson wrote a very good analysis in 2012 (in Swedish) about the gender balance in Swedish fantastic fiction, where he examined both the gender balance among readers and published writers. Readers are roughly 50/50 men and women, in his analysis, but best-selling writers, reviewed writers and interviewed writers are chiefly men. As he also organizes cons, he notes that there’s a similar imbalance here, too – but also notes that the gender imbalance may have different reasons at different events. After 2012 year’s Swecon, Maria Nygård noted that the gender balance has become dramatically better in the last few years. Taking a look at Fantastika 2013, the guest gender balance was 50/50 and most of the panels mixed; some all-male ones, but also all-female ones. At the Danish Fantasticon, the 16 guests were 11 men and 5 women respectively. However 5 of the female guests were guests of honor or headliners. Interestingly, only 2 of the female guests were Danish (technically, one of them – Liz Jensen – is Danish/English). That’s about all I can post about fandom. I’ve not been very involved. But I do recommend Tystnad.net for further reading.
Articles from abroad
Okay, so how much does the situation in Sweden have in common with the English-speaking world? This is what I’ll use as a comparison, because it’s by far the most material-rich source, and Sweden is like many other non-English speaking countries very heavily influenced by American and British culture.
So, this thing about less women getting published in fantastic fiction.
Women submit less stories, says Tor.com editor. Contains statistics. The same statement, in a study that also contains a history of women/men ratios in American SF/F magazines, in Strange Horizons here. It also discusses and offers suggestions for why female writers submit less. This article by James Gunn examines that phenomenon too, and why female authors seem to fall by the wayside as time progresses. Another, personal account of feeling excluded from hard SF as a female writer.
Other relevant bits re: fiction (also relevant to gaming)
The “historical accuracy” argument:
PSA: Your default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical (essay; contains a boatload of links to other studies and essays on the subject)
Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy. Let’s Unpack That. (Likewise. Many many great links.)
About writing female characters
Some basic theory and demonstrations of the problem with sexism in gaming (mostly video games).
Objectification of women in games? (Feminist Frequency) An interesting illustration of sexism in gaming is of course how Anita Sarkeesian received death threats for talking about it, and was then criticized for disabling Youtube comments because of said threats (because obviously, threats of murder and rape are part of a healthy discourse).
Foz Meadows analyzes sexism in gaming (contains many, many useful links on the subject)
The gaming situation in Scandinavia
The most common complaints that show up when someone wants to discuss sexism in gaming, examined by a female game designer (in Swedish).
Gaming As Women (mostly analog games)