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COLUMN: Female authors deserve more respect



Celebrated author Sarah J. Maas, creator of the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, recently announced her pregnancy at a book event in London. 

While most fans responded by congratulating her, many negative responses on Twitter exemplify female authors are still not treated with the respect they deserve.

One fan in particular tweeted, “Watch Throne of Glass 7 never be released in this decade.” 

This is not only rude and disrespectful to Maas but insinuates she is someone whose only purpose is to write books and satisfy fans instead of a human with a life and family.

This attitude towards successful female authors along with the sentiment that female authors have to work much harder to be successful and respected in the first place prove we are still extremely far from gender equality in the literary world.

Author Eleanor Catton famously said, “Male writers get asked what they think, women what they feel.” 

Science fiction and speculative fiction author Meg Elison said that due to the overwhelming male domination in her genre, the story she truly wanted to write had not yet been written. 

Male authors had never truly considered how an event like an apocalypse would affect women differently than men.

This sexism and disrespect towards female authors occurs even in spaces that are often deemed progressive, like academia. 

Canadian literature professor and novelist David Gilmour said he is not interested in teaching female authors in his literature classes. He said, “I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them. If you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy.”

While this could be viewed as merely a preference, the fact a professor could discount any literature on the basis of the author’s gender is rooted in extreme sexism. 

While the authors listed are classic and truly worth studying, many female authors have produced work just as worthy. A preference could be a particular genre of literature, but never a particular gender. This is when it becomes discrimination and sexism.

It is even harder for women of color in the literary field. Angie Thomas, celebrated young-adult author of The Hate U Give, recently tweeted, “Lesson of the night: Not everybody who reads and loves THUG is 'woke' nor does it keep them from being problematic. Don't be fooled lol. #Its2017andIwascalledacoloredwoman.” 

She then went on to say white fans at book events often ask to rub her “for luck,” ask to touch her hair or tell her that she is very articulate.

It is disappointing and disheartening that it is so difficult for female authors to receive the respect they truly deserve, and that when they do reach the same levels of fame as their male counterparts, they are treated like objects by their fans. 

Remember female authors are first and foremost people with lives and feelings of their own, and perhaps it will begin to change the way successful women are treated.

emmagetz@indiana.edu
@emmaagetz

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