No boys allowed

Realms of Fantasy magazine has announced a plan to publish an all-women issue. I'm not going to comment on whether I feel that this is a good idea or not, mainly because I'm still formulating my own thoughts about that subject. But I can say, as a writer, that while I would consider it an honor to be published in Realms of Fantasy, a great magazine that has published a number of talented authors whose work I admire, I would not submit a piece for consideration in the women-only issue.

I've already seen comments on blogs that are suggesting that RoF will be "forced" to accept "subpar" stories for this issue because there just aren't enough women writing for the editorial board to be able to fill even a single issue with good work by women. And yes, this sort of idiocy and ignorance pisses me off a great deal, and is perhaps part of the reason that RoF feels the need to publish this special issue. But here's the thing: there's always going to be a story that someone doesn't like. And that's fine in a regular magazine. It happens. But here, that story becomes not just a piece of fiction that didn't work for that reader, but a symbol of the fact that not enough women can write well, and so the editors were "forced" to accept that story just to fill their page count. And if that story were mine - well, I can handle the idea of people critiquing my work in public. I can't handle the idea of watching them say that it was my work that let down the side.

And here's the other thing: I would always wonder if I would have sold that story under "normal" circumstances, or if it had just been chosen because I have a nice pair of matching chromosomes. And yes, that's my flaw, a gap in my confidence, and yes, maybe that need to wonder is again part of why RoF feels the need to publish this special issue, but I can't escape it.