It’s taken me a few days to realize that the reason why I can’t seem to grind out the next entry in The Baker of Brennan is that the #YesAllWomen hashtag is making me think too much. It’s the everyday stuff, the things we do reflexively, and the things we ignore reflexively. I’ve read thousands of words about it, and it’s forced me to ruminate over memories I’ve suppressed and things I just don’t think about.
But I don’t want to talk about those stories. They’re no different from anyone else’s experiences of being objectified and patronized and all that.
I chose my pen name because it’s gender ambiguous. In 2013, when I published my first book, I worried that slapping an obviously female name on the covers of my books would be problematic. Maybe that’s old-fashioned. After all, some of my favorite fantasy writers are women who’ve been doing it for decades (Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey come to mind). But a lot of us still do it. I know dozens of women writers who use an androgynous nickname or their first two initials.
Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe the majority of men who might be interested in the stories I have to tell don’t care what the name of the writer is anymore. That’s not actually the point. The point is my perception, which was formed by society and experiences, leads me to believe that my words will be assigned less value by many people – not just men – if my gender is apparent on first glance.
In many ways, I don’t regard my choice as the problematic part of this. It’s the fact I made the choice without really considering it much. I asked the question of myself as ‘Should I use a pen name or not?’, which is a question nearly all writers consider as a matter of course. My answer was: ‘Of course I should. I don’t want people to see a girl name on the cover of a science fiction superheroes book. No one will take it seriously.’.
And that, my friends, is the result of living for *mumble* years in everyday, ingrained, patriarchal sexism.
Yes, all women.