I met one of my favorite writers before she ever published a single story. We were classmates vying for our MFAs in Creative Writing from Florida International University and would smile at each other from across the room. She was shy, but never defensive, in workshop and always strove, really made the effort, to answer questions about her work and decisions on the page as fully as she could....more
Posts Tagged: VIDA
Ferrante’s novels about women like Lila and Lenu are a potent reminder that working-class women’s perspectives are out there, even if we can’t always hear each other, even if we’re sometimes embarrassed and alone, even if we feel exasperated by a system that valorizes experiences and credentials that we can never claim.
Writing as art can be what economists call a “non-market” activity. The time we spend writing poems or novels, like the time we spend doing laundry, is usually time not spent earning a dollar, even if we hope to see payment for that work down the line.
Jezebel’s Jia Tolentino discusses “the end of the era of the important, inappropriate literary man” in context of the sexual abuse allegations against Iowa Workshop visiting professor Thomas Sayer Ellis. She posits that social media is allowing victims more visibility and power as they speak out against their abusers who have previously been protected by universities and other institutions....more
The Lulu Fund is a new organization founded by Anna March, Ashley Ford, Jen Fitzgerald, and Ashley Perez dedicated to breaking down barriers within the writing community. The Lulu Fund mission statement says:
We support individual writers and organizations who demonstrate their commitment to these ideas by telling critical stories and lifting marginalized voices.
When the VIDA counts come out and multiple publications are shown to publish far more men than women (with the numbers for POC writers looking even worse), editors make excuses about their submission pools – they get far more submissions and pitches from men than women.
The latest VIDA count might have some disappointing if unsurprising results, but there are empowered women involved in the literary community if you know where to look. Danielle Lazarin compiled a list of journals run by women over at The Review Review and reflects on her choice to focus on these journals:
Most of my writer friends are women.
The message sent to women that what they are writing isn’t important or serious enough is not a new one. It is as old as literature itself. And its persistence has everything to do with how women’s literature is treated in college and university classrooms and, in turn, how it is treated in the literary world.
The Writing the Future report . . . found that the “best chance of publication” for a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) writer was to write literary fiction conforming to a stereotypical view of their communities, addressing topics such as “racism, colonialism or post-colonialism as if these were the primary concerns of all BAME people.”
So where does this leave us? I think back to “The Woman Question.” I have (most days) not felt the need to leave my husband and children in order to safeguard my sanity, so that is progress of a sort, I concede.
Mitt Romney ignited a feminist revolution during the 2012 presidential debates when he said, “I went to a number of women’s groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”
Throw VIDA’s pie charts highlighting “gender disparity in major literary publications and book reviews” into the mix, and you’ll grasp the necessity of Out of the Binders, a two-day solution/conference at NYU of workshops and panels “on/for/by women in the literary arts and film/TV” (which is probably you if you’re reading this post), aimed “to empower women and gender non-conforming writers with tools, connections, and strategies to advance their careers” (and enhance cup size)....more
VIDA is launching a new roundtable discussion series on issues in writing by women on June 2nd at Housing Works Bookstore in Manhattan. The event is the first of a series that will take place every fall and winter/spring. This time, they conversation centers on how women write about other women, featuring a panel including Jill Lepore, Rebecca Mead, Salamishah Tillet, and Ruth Franklin....more
Literature and commercial publishing have a diversity problem. People of color and women are both in short supply. Rumpus contributor Daniel Peña, writing at Plougshares, offers a market-based explanation:
But I wonder how much these problems stem not from MFA whiteness, or the MFA system, or even publishing at large, but from the very narratives we crave—white, middle-to-upper brow, predominately heteronormative.
Ron Hogan, who runs the literary website Beatrice, wants to help change that by starting a new book-review column that intentionally focuses on the work of a diverse range of authors....more
As we’ve documented pretty extensively before, arts organization VIDA has done a lot to expose gender inequality in the writing world with its annual count comparing female bylines to male ones in a number of publications.
The New York Review of Books‘ ratio has been less than stellar for the past three years, with female reviewers and female authors reviewed never rising above 20% of the total....more
Poet, memoirist, and Beat figure Hettie Jones is, like most of us, unhappy about sexism in the publishing industry.
In a blog post on the subject, she discusses VIDA statistics, Deborah Copaken Kogan’s Nation essay, and (drumroll!) Elissa Bassist’s amazing Funny Women essay “Writing the Next Great American Woman’s Novel.”
Jones calls Bassist’s humor “indelible” and ties it into the “frustratingly sad” larger picture....more
Are male and female writers interviewed equally? Loraine Berry at Talking Writing thinks not.
It’s gone to show that interviewers are often more interested in a female writer’s dietary habits and marital problems than their literary processes and work. Jodi Picoult says that she has been asked how she lost weight many, many times....more