On the Black Static web site today regular columnist Peter Tennant has analysed the contribution by women to horror anthologies over the past year.
I thought it might be instructive to look at how women writers are represented in the current crop of anthologies, using the thirteen anthologies I reviewed in #19, Lovecraft Unbound from #18, and three others that are waiting in the TBR pile (Haunted Legends edited by Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, End of the Line edited by Jonathan Oliver and More Stories from The Twilight Zone edited by Carol Serling).
Of course, this is too sparse a sampling to draw any hard and fast conclusions, and we have no figures to put the results into context (e.g. how many women are writing horror fiction, and how many of those that do are submitting regularly), but it does suggest various trends.
The entire article is worth reading so you can examine the breakdown by anthology.
Peter notices that recent American and Canadian collections feature more women authors than the UK ones, which were bottom of the league in terms of representation except for The Bitten Word edited by Ian Whates, in which 59% of the contributors were women.
The inescapable fact is that women usually submit less to horror markets. Based on my experience with the Campaign for Real Fear there is a mental hurdle for some women writers to jump in order to consider writing for the horror genre. Some of it is personal taste, some of it is a perception that horror is a ‘boy’s club’ that is disinterested in women’s input (whether this is true or not, the belief lingers) and some of it is cultural and conditioned and thus difficult to shift. With active encouragement it’s my belief that the numbers of women writing horror fiction will increase.
I’m sure the question will be asked, why do we have to go to this effort? My response is that I’m equally interested in reading good horror writing by women and men, but that requires an extra welcome to women to write in this genre. It also means making it clear that we want to hear from other voices from other backgrounds too.
Ultimately, I believe diversity is healthy and brings with it a robust dynamic that can result in new and exciting stories. I would like to see more of it in all forms of writing – comic books, novels, screenwriting, computer games, short stories, etc.
Finally, when women are interested in writing for horror they tend to be devoted, passionate and involved in the genre. They are not invisible, and are easy to find. They deserve equal treatment in regards to critical attention and promotion as their male peers.
Visibility is key. Women need to see that other women have succeeded in the careers to which they aspire.