Well, in a little over a month, the World Horror Convention convenes. This year, the Stokers Banquet is a part of the festivities, so it’s like two conventions in one. Yet some folks are dreading it, if not outright skipping it, namely a lot of female peers of mine. Actually, it reminds me of an on-going discussion Chesya Burke and I have about whether or not it’s easier to be female or black in the genre. When she asks whether I’d rather be a white female or a black male in the genre, I paraphrase Chris Rock: I’m going to ride this male thing out. So this might be an occasion of male privilege leading to male guilt.

Part of this goes back to what it means to be a professional. It’s a shame that we would even have to say “keep your hands to yourselves” as a part of professional conduct. I get that there’s a bit of the old con mentality that plays into some of this: that “what happens at a con stays at a con,” like the rest of their lives don’t matter, or at least exist outside of what is supposed to be a convention of professionals.

It’s bad enough that they still have to contend with schools of thought that believe women can’t write horror, or that vampire erotica is all they can write. Tired of the constant condescension, as if they aren’t expected to be able to speak in whole sentences. Of course strides have been made, but in a lot of ways, there is the lingering perception of the genre still being a boys club. Of that being how deals are often brokered and anthologies put together.

Their sex becomes a two-edged sword. On the one side, if they find publishing success, they become dogged by rumors of how they got their deal. On the other side, some may use their looks to sell their fiction. If you think you have to use your body, your sexiness to sell your work, maybe you can’t claim hurt when you aren’t thought of for your writing first; but all of us use what we have to our marketing advantage.

Convention fatigue sets in when women become tired of being constantly propositioned. I’ve heard disgusting tales of women being pinned in corners, elevator rides that have gone horribly wrong, and convention stalking. Is it so much a leap that women want to be seen as writers, not potential lays. The saddest part is how some of the worst behavior comes from the ones they had never guessed it would come from: their friends, their confidantes, their supposed peers.

Women, especially women horror writers, don’t need me defending them. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of a marginal problem. Though I’ve been told that were a woman to have written something like this, it would have fallen on deaf ears. We’ll see what kind of discussion this generates.

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