To begin the year, I set myself a challenge: read a perfect split balance of male:female authors in 2013. It was a personal challenge, and I asked no one else to follow along with me. This challenge had two purposes. The first was to provide more exposure for female fantasy and science fiction writers. The second was to expand my own tastes, to discover new authors. As 2013 winds down, I consider this challenge a roaring success, but it wasn’t without some controversy.
In particular, the comments thread generated some salty discussion about my challenge and the idea of ‘quotas’ playing against the natural interests of a reader/critic. I read a lot of the same arguments, mostly about being ‘genderblind’, that I had once made. These arguments are so easy to fall back on, a safety net to avoid falling into blame. At first, I was quick to respond the same way, “I just read what I want to read, and ignore the gender of the author completely.” Well and true, maybe, but I started to recognize that, despite these excuses, there was a large bias (about one to three, female to male) in my reading habits. I began to ask myself why. I still don’t have an answer, but I did recognize that a concious course correction was something I could be proactive about without needing an answer right away.
In addition, I realized a couple of years ago that the audience I had attained for my blog allowed me a position where I could make a positive impact on the genre (if only in a small way) by making positive impacts to my own habits. My Gender Balance in 2013 post has led to a very enriching experience as I have consciously attempted to correct my internal biases. I plan to continue to work towards parity every year.”—A Dribble of Ink’s Aidan Moher talking about the personal challenge he set for 2013. More on the challenge and the results here.