SFX magazine accused of sexism

// 26 February 2010

Jenni Hill works as a junior editor at science fiction, fantasy and horror publishers Solaris Books, where she very nearly has everyone using the Bechdel test. Very nearly.

SFXhorrorcover.jpgAuthor and poet Maura McHugh, who blogs under the name Splinister, has pointed out a case of, perhaps unconscious, sexism perpetrated by the all-male editorial team at SFX, a popular monthly magazine which caters to fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

In SFX’s recent 132-page horror issue, editor Ian Berriman said: “[Horror] comes in an almost infinite variety of forms, and I love nearly every single one of them.” But there was a notable lack of recognition for women in the genre. Thirty four creators were interviewed and asked for their opinions on the forgotten gems of the genre and, you guessed it, they were all men. To compound this, only one of them cited a work by a women in their list of hidden gems: Toby Whithouse suggested Kit Whitfield’s Bareback.

Maura points out the lack of ‘alone time’ given to women in other articles in the piece, saying that actress Ingrid Pitt is the only woman with any time in the spotlight – half a page in a ‘My Life In Horror’ section.

Maura told me: “I really do not enjoy bringing up this matter. Equally, someone has to say something. I’m not being over-dramatic, or asking for anything outrageous. What I want is that women get a fair representation.”

Presumably, SFX will issue some sort of apology, as the story has now been picked up by The Guardian and Maura is in contact with the editors. One might think, however, that the industry should have learned its lesson five months ago, when the British Fantasy Society had to issue an apology for their anthology In Conversation: A Writer’s Perspective, Volume One: Horror, which interviewed solely male writers in the genre.

The most ironic thing about all this, is that it has happened during the ‘Women in Horror’ month, an event created because female creators in this genre get so little recognition.

Comments From You

HarpyMarx // Posted 26 February 2010 at 1:03 pm

That is a real shame to totally ignore women in the horror genre. Indeed the lack of visibility of women by these creators interviewed shows the uphill struggle we have. But this is apparent across all genres and the lack of women representation, it highlights sexism endemic in society as a whole.

Also, on a general issue, Kathryn Bigelow will be the first woman (obv. if she wins) to win best director at the Oscars.

On the issue of horror, still what I consider a great book is Carol Clover’s ‘Men, women, and chain saws: gender in the modern horror film’ especially the ‘final girl’ analysis and ‘woman in peril’ scenario.

Drai // Posted 26 February 2010 at 8:51 pm

Although it’s a shame that women don’t have more representation in the horror genre, I’ve been a fan of horror for decades and I’d be hard pressed to think of a woman to interview for it. Even among friends in the community I can only think of “scream queens” and Short film directors. I think more women should step up and (pardon the term) grab the genre by the balls.

Maura McHugh // Posted 27 February 2010 at 10:03 am

Jenni, thanks for the shout-out.

Your readers might be interested to read editor Ian Berriman’s response to my query about the lack of women in the SFX Horror edition, but they may not like what they read.

I posted his response, and my reply, on my blog


gadgetgal // Posted 27 February 2010 at 1:57 pm

Well done on your response, you clearly scuppered all his responses to your original question! Also kudos on the email from Alexandra Sokoloff – if I ever saw a Homer Simpson “in-your-face” moment to SFX then that was it!!

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