Welcome to the Girls’ Club

By

“We’re secretaries fully versed in Derrida, receptionists who have read Proust in French. This is a land of girls. There are always at least ten of ‘us’ for every one of ‘him.’”  –Meghan Daum, “Publishing and Other Near-Death Experiences”

Fuck yeah, Meghan Daum.

I learned about the old boys’ club when I took women’s studies classes in college. These were the places to which men would gravitate, clandestinely (to me, from me), to be men, to do men-like things, such as smoke cigars, play on the back nine, continue the gender polarity, etc.

Then I worked in publishing and saw the boys’ club up close and was so indignant about what I called “The Circle Jerk” and was so hurt to be excluded from it…and all that indignation and hurt got me about as far as nowhere.

Oh, and of course I crapped on the women in my field. Like when Lil’ Kim referred to Nicki Minaj as a stupid ho. Jezebel writer Dodai Stewart commented: “There are so few women in hip-hop. Maybe it’s foolish or naively idealistic, but if these ladies would quit being threatened by each other and develop a sense of sisterhood, it might turn into something amazing.” Fuck yeah, Dodai Stewart. The way women feel about other women is how I assume the 1% feel about the 99%: let the weak fight among themselves.

VIDA’s count–which looks at prominent magazines and identifies the gender breakdown of writers, reviewers, and books reviewed–provides evidence of the problem we’re up against. And we’ll get just about as far as nowhere if we don’t woman-up and help each other.

Last week I received an email from Feministing contributor Maya Dusenbery with a link to GOOD magazine’s article Promote Women: Use Your Network to Solve the Gender Gap. Maya wrote, “I’m sure you’ve seen this idea from the great Ann Friedman and Rachel Sklar and Amanda Hess. I am trying to do it.”

The idea: “Stop lamenting and start doing.”

The steps:

1) Think of three women in your industry who are underpaid, underemployed, or under-noticed.

2) Think of three powerful people (of any gender) in your industry who you know personally and who are in a position to hire or assign to women.

3) Compose an email to each of those powerful people individually and recommend a specific woman they should meet, hire, or otherwise work with.

4) Email those women and tell them you’ve recommended them.

The takeaway: “Use your network. Endorse women today.” No vagina left behind!

The followup: “Submit your stories to GOOD’s Tumblr, on Twitter with the #promotewomen hashtag . . . We’ll compile your stories and publish them as inspiration. We have the power to end the gender gap. Take five minutes and send three emails to do something about it.”

Fuck yeah, Ann Friedman and Rachel Sklar! You two should pitch a TV show called Networking Women, with the catch-phrase “Let’s build this network!”

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I found another “girls’ club” type article through VIDA’s Facebook page: Institutional sexism of books world needs new girls’ network by . 

She says:

“Instead of hoping that someday the boys’ club will open its doors and let us up into the treehouse, we can form our own clubs, define ‘worthy’ our own way, and celebrate the books and voices that we decide deserve celebration.” Fuck YEAH, Jennifer Weiner!

It’s as if Weiner is speaking directly to GOOD’s project when she calls out that ”important publications have male editors. They fill vacancies by word of mouth instead of advertising openings, and hire people they know. Nothing’s going to change until we change the ratio of the people on top, and the people who know people who can open doors.”

Weiner points to writer Anne Trubek who “made an incredibly generous offer, saying, essentially, here’s where I’ve been published. If you are a woman writer who wants to be published in one of these places, email me, and I’ll tell you whom I pitched and how I did it. And other writers have offered their own lists on Twitter. Blogger Alyssa Rosenberg posted a list of 10 women writers who’d be great fits for some of the VIDA publications.”

(I’m sure this is getting old, but I’m still into it…) FUCK YEAH, ANNE TRUBEK!

If you are a woman writer who wants to be published in the Funny Women column, email me at funnywomen at therumpus dot net.

A few more choice quotations from Weiner:

1) “We are going to have to speak up for ourselves, and help each other, if those abysmal ratios are ever going to change.”

2) “In the end, it’s going to take a New Girls’ (and Boys’) Network to counter the Old Boys Network. Men and women committed to change are going to have to step up and speak out.”

3) “Popular women writers might not get the reviews, or the respect – but we do have the readers. These readers are eager to find the next great essay, or novel, or magazine piece, and they trust us to help them find it. I’m committed to using my voice and talking about women writers who aren’t getting the quality or quantity of attention that their male peers receive. In the past few years, I’ve done blogposts, Q&As and I’ve had a lot of success with giveaways, where I ask readers to purchase a book by a female author . . . and then send them one of my books for free.”

Readers: if you purchase a book by a female author, I will send you an air high-five for free.

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See also: Female Friends Spend Raucous Night Validating the Living Shit out of Each Other. A few tips within:

1) Get your female friends together “at least once a month for an all-out, anything-goes session of nonjudgmental reassurances . . . with friends sharing excessive amounts of admiration, empathy, and encouragement for one another.”

2) Just go “balls out with the confidence-boosting,” partaking “in seven or eight mutual expressions of positive regard.” Bolster “the shit out of [your friend's] self-esteem.”

3) Keep “telling her how fucking talented and beautiful she [is].”

Fuck yeah!


Elissa Bassist edits the Funny Women column. Follow her on Twitter, and visit elissabassist.com for more literary, feminist, and personal criticism. More from this author →