Ashamed to be female.

There once was a time when it was considered shameful, improper, impossible even, to be a female author.

Women went to great lengths to disguise their identity and therefore their gender.

Fortunately we live in enlightened times.

We are aware of the damage that bullying does to children.

How violence creates violence and all the adult consequences.

We in the civilized world, wherever that is, support equal marriage.

Homophobia is frowned upon, at least.

Women don’t have to behave like second class citizens. We have choice.

Aurore Dupin de Francueil
Aurore Dupin de Francueil

Equality, especially in the workplace is still a long way off but there has been some lifting of the glass ceiling.

So. When were the bad old days? The dark ages when women deemed, chose even, to be ashamed of their gender.

I’ll tell you when.

It’s NOW.

When female writers choose to use initials. Yes you, Joanne K Rowling and you, Erika L James.

Both use initials rather than their female names. I am in despair.

And just when you think the rich and famous, who undoubtedly will be role models for some, can’t get any worse. They do.

Okay, Ms Rowling chose a pseudonym for her latest book for adults.

All well and good.


Stephen King also published under the name, Richard Bachman.

Michael Crichton had three pseudonyms. John Lange, Jeffery Hudson and Michael Douglas.

Apparently none felt the need to use initials or change gender.

When I first saw that Robert Galbraith had published a novel to fairly tepid acclaim and then was discovered, by accident, as you do, that ‘our’ Joanne aka J.K. was now fully transformed into Robert. I was… Fill in your own adjective!

Yep. This gives a wonderfully clear message to all aspiring writers.

Whatever you do, if you are female, hide your gender.

Use your initials or better still use a man’s name.

In researching this article I came across an unfamiliar name in a recent obituary.

A.C. Crispin. A writer of science fiction.

Never heard of ANN CAROL Crispin? Writer of 23 published novels and creator of several Star Trek novels. I wonder why?

According to all possible sources, today’s date is 10th September 2013.

Also known as the 21st century.

But anyone with pangs of nostalgia can have them assuaged by two of the most well known writers on this planet.

To, Joanne and Erika, I say thanks for plunging us back into the 19th century, where George Sand and George Eliot are turning in their graves in disbelief.

They had so little choice.

In conclusion. One word. Disgraceful.

Oh and please don’t blame your agents/publishers. Even worse!

Despite the earlier word; conclusion, I would like to end on a positive note.

Samantha Shannon. Not S or Sam but the full- I am a girl- Samantha has written science fiction and used her name.

The Bone Season. The first of a projected seven book series.

So maybe there is light at the end of the literary misogynistic tunnel?

Thank you Samantha for being you.



4 Responses to “Ashamed to be female.”

  1. BillKirton

    It’s a sad, and weird, situation.  It’s also a comment on the reading public, isn’t it? Which is in itself surprising since the majority of readers are female. We still have a long way to go.

  2. HelenDucal

    Reply from: Samantha Shannon @say-shannon on Twitter
    @khamaileon (that’s me)
    Thank you. I did consider writing under an androgynous
    pseudonym but finally realised how important it was for women to [1/2]
    use their own names in order to normalise female writing. So
    glad I did! [2/2]
    Permission given to use this quote.


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