Girls, ladies: Perhaps I didn't read the original announcement, though I thought I'd seen it pretty quickly. And the use of those words, if they were there, didn't bother me. The tone didn't strike me as wrong. But I don't have a problem with 'girls'. I use girl. I think of myself as a girl. I'm always thrown to be called a 'woman'. Would I be more careful in a professional context such as a request for submissions announcement? Maybe. Or maybe I'd call you all chicks. 'Lady' is an iffy thing. Depends on usage.
August: Really? August? Why August? I think this would have gotten a better reception had they planned it for Women's History Month. Or otherwise came up with a reason they picked August, other than that was the next issue they were slated to think about, which it seems more like it was. I can retroactively think of a reason why August is awesome. But hey, I shouldn't have to do their work for them.
All-Women Contributors versus Women-Themed Issue: I think the latter would have gotten a better reception, if been a little trickier to pull off well. Don't you think a fantasy story about Madam Curie written by a man would be potentially feminist and well within theme? And perhaps better to feature a story like that than a story written by a woman where a boy comes of age by joining the Dragon Corps? (Not that I wouldn't want to read both.)
What's a woman? Female sex? Female gender? Or not-male sex? Or not-male gender? Are you self-identifying as a woman by the act of submitting a story for this issue? And then what's to stop a man from .. well, I hesitate to say 'sneak', because it wouldn't be that hard or even for very devious reasons, necessarily.. but what's to stop someone of the male sex and gender from submitting and getting published in this issue?
I think the flak that Realms is getting for this is mostly coming from the argument/discussion that surrounds the question: Are more women not being published because there's bias against them as women? Or are more women not being published because the themes, tone, and style of writing that women (generally speaking) write is under-valued by the establishment?
The former problem can be helped by all-women issues and anthologies. The latter is not helped nearly as much, if at all. Because an all-woman issue is directly addressing the first problem. It's indirectly, or not at all, addressing the second.
Since I fall in the camp that says both of these things are problems, while leaning more towards the second, I believe that an issue focussed on women in fantasy WITHOUT being exclusionary in regard to the gender of the contributors would be of greater benefit. Provided that there IS a balance of at least 75%-ish female-identified contributors. And that each contribution is chosen carefully with a look at it individually and as part of the whole.
But I do thank Realms of Fantasy for thinking about things like this and getting engaged in the discussion. Far better to try and then face the objections than to just keep the status quo going.