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June 05, 2015

Woman: Hey Let's Have a Year In Publishing of Publishing Only Women

"Identity Politics" is just a more polite term for "Racist Politics."

It is clear that there is a gender bias in publishing houses and the world of books. Well, enough. Why not try something radical? Make 2018 the Year of Publishing Women, in which no new titles should be by men

...

Several years ago, Martin Amis chaired a literary festival panel on "The Crisis of American Fiction”"with Richard Ford, Jay McInerney and Junot Díaz. I was in the audience, and halfway through the discussion leaned over to the person sitting next to me and said: "Clearly the crisis of American fiction is that there are no women in it." It's not just that there weren’t any women on the stage. In the entire discussion, which lasted nearly an hour, there was no mention of Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Annie Proulx, Anne Tyler, Donna Tartt, Jhumpa Lahiri or any other contemporary female writer. A single reference to Eudora Welty was the only acknowledgment that women in the US have ever had anything to do with the world of letters. Díaz, near the end of the hour, made the point that the conversation had centred on white American males, but it was too little, too late.

...

As a snapshot, let’s look at the Man Booker prize over the last five years. Ever since the women’s prize for fiction – formerly the Orange, now the Baileys – was set up 20 years ago in response to an all–male Booker shortlist, the Booker has been the prize to which the most attention is paid in gender terms, and the question of the prize's judges and gender came up last year when only three women were on a longlist of 13. In response, one of the judges Sarah Churchwell said: "We read what publishers submit to us … [If] publishers only submit a fraction of women, then that is a function of systemic institutional sexism in our culture." So I asked the Booker administrators how many of the books submitted in the last five years have been written by women. The answer was, slightly under 40%. This isn’t an issue around the Booker alone. I’ve been uncomfortable with the imbalance between male and female writers in terms of the books that get submitted for prizes that I’m judging on a number of occasions.


In the five years in which slightly under 40% of the submitted books have been written by women, the percentage of women on the longlist has been slightly over 40%. The percentage of women on the shortlist has been 46%. The percentage of women who go on to win the prize has been exactly 40%.

...

I would argue that is time for everyone, male and female, to sign up to a concerted campaign to redress the inequality. Last year a number of readers, critics and at least one literary journal, the Critical Flame, signed up to a "Year of Reading Women" (for the Critical Flame it was female writers and writers of colour). Why not take it a step further? Why not have a Year of Publishing Women: 2018, the centenary of women over the age of 30 getting the vote in the UK, seems appropriate.


Of course, there will be many details to work out, but the basic premise of my "provocation" is that none of the new titles published in that year should be written by men....

By the way she looks like this because of course she does.

I note that because I've been thinking about this twitter essay by a J R Salzman, who argues, persuasively, that 90% Identity Politics is just vengeance against those towards one feels envy.


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posted by Ace at 02:18 PM

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