This is all a follow-up to the SFWA survey of short fiction in 2002, which found that the percentage of stories by women in the major magazines is, and has consistently been, less than would be expected from the percentage of women in fandom, the percentage of women in SFWA, and the percentages of major awards going to women. My preferred explanation -- that women are mostly too smart to write very much for the peanuts that the big skiffy magazines pay these days -- is pretty flippant, but may be partially true. (Women do not seem to have any trouble as a class getting novels published, for example.)
Unless I missed something, there's no obvious reason for this activism to focus on F&SF. But I'm exceptionally cynical, so I'll try to reconstruct the thinking of the Feminist SF Overmind:
Hm. Analog is the worst offender against women, and has the highest circulation, but Analog only publishes stories that True Feminists don't want to write or read anyway. So there's no point attacking them.(Any similarly to any human being's thought processes is highly unlikely.)
Asimov's has a somewhat better ratio, but it's still not what we want. Oops! Now it's edited by a woman. Can't pick on a woman.
F&SF is the third biggest magazine, has a lower percentage of stories by women than Asimov's, and it's edited entirely by men. They must be sexist!
That's more-or-less a joke, but the laser-like focus on F&SF in the current iteration of this debate (at Finlay's LiveJournal, and spilling out other places) is quite noticeable, and strange. I would expect a flurry of market reports and comparisons, to see which SFF outlets are the most women-friendly (and -hostile), and perhaps plans to create or support 'zines edited by women. But, instead, the debate seems to be entirely about the personal tastes and idiosyncrasies of Gordon Van Gelder and John Joseph Adams. The debate itself is vaguely interesting to me (in a watching-other-people-fight kind of way), but I generally find that wanna-be writers take themselves about 300% too seriously.
I do wonder, in my usual contrary fashion, what effect the flooders expect to have. Let's work out the possible scenarios, shall we?
Are GVG and JJA more likely to:
- Say, "Gosh! We have a giant pile of stories by women! We previously thought all of this stuff had girl cooties, but now we love it! We'll buy all of these stories, and fill up the next seven issues of the magazine with only girls!!!"
- Read a lot of very similar stories and reject them that much faster, just to work the pile down.
- Feel guilty about the whole issue, and desperately search for a few stories that they think are mostly OK, and buy those -- half to encourage women to keep contributing and half to get the Secret Feminist Cabal to go bother Stan Schmidt for a while.