My winter 2002 SFWA…

My winter 2002 SFWA bulletin finally got forwarded to me, and there's two interesting articles in there worth reading, I think. One on women in sf/f gathers statistics that indicate that women short story writers, by far, submit less than men do, and presumably as a result, get published less. Women, why aren't you submitting?

One theory is that women have less time than men do -- if you have two working writers in a household, with children, often both the man and the women are working outside jobs and trying to fit their writing around that -- but the woman is also doing the bulk of the housework and childcare. So she's juggling three jobs where he's juggling two, and as a result, he's finding more time to produce fiction and submit it.

It's easy to dismiss this and say that no, men help out plenty with the housework these days. But really -- that phrase says it all, doesn't it? Men help out...the responsibility for getting it done still generally lies with the women. It's a cultural assumption that's remarkably hard to shake, and it means that of pretty much all the couples I know well, the woman does more housework/childcare, even when she has an outside job. We do it to ourselves. Roshani's constantly fretting that she's not being a good mother, not being a good wife -- and then she puts extra time into those activities. Tom doesn't worry about it -- he does what he's asked to do, but he doesn't assume that it's primarily his job to do the household stuff. And they're a remarkably egalitarian couple compared to some I know. It's fascinating.

I'm not sure I have a solution -- except that if you are a man, partnered to a woman writer (or artist), take it on yourself to really do an equitable share of the household work. Because she's conditioned to just do it, and she's probably doing a lot more than you, without even noticing it. And if you're a woman, take a hard look at whether your division of labor is fair -- and if it's not, talk to your man about it. Chart the hours in a week -- see how many you spend on household stuff vs. how many he does. Try to shake your conditioning. Couples with two working writers should be particularly careful about this.

It's odd for me to think about this, because right now, I do all the housework here. But the money I earn doesn't go to the joint household expenses -- they go to paying off my personal debts. Kevin's supporting all of our rent/food/etc. expenses, and so it seems a pretty equitable distribution of effort. It's also easy for me to fit in housework around writing...and to be fair to Kevin, when I'm on deadline, he either helps out with the housework or just doesn't care if it slides for a week or so. We eat out then, on his money. So it all works out pretty well. But still...it's worth thinking about, checking to be sure that we aren't slipping into culturally inculcated patterns. It's remarkably easy to do.

The other Bulletin article is of less general interest, but if you're interested in editing original sf/f anthologies, you should really check out the Malzberg/Resnick dialog on the subject. Lots of good info.

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