Feminism in the literary world

Statistics can be so disheartening sometimes.

Sophie Cunningham writes about the plight of the female author in the literary world. Read the article here.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the idea of quotas. Mainly because I know that it shouldn’t be necessary for equality to be enforced – it should come naturally. The current numbers indicate otherwise, though.

As a hopeful writer, how does one go about Changing The System? Where do we start?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. moonmanmad
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 04:26:08

    “Women continue to be marginalised in our culture. Their words are deemed less interesting, less knowledgeable, less well-formed, less worldly and less worthy.”

    Sorry, I can’t buy this. Yes, women are marginalized in all society’s, but in publishing? Have you seen the New York Times Bestseller list? Have you not noticed the tons of books published by women every year? She references one award and calls that statistics (statistics, by the way, can be construed to mean whatever you want them to mean–just ask any politician). I call it selective whining.


  2. Acacia Pepler
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 11:12:38

    Aren’t you proving Jen’s point, though? Women’s writing can sell millions of copies and make all the bestseller lists, but it’s still considered “lesser” writing than men’s, not “Literature”, so regardless of how many copies they sell or how popular it is they rarely get the acclaim or awards?


  3. moonmanmad
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 12:23:27

    Not at all. It was one award. One. I’d like to see the “statistics” concerning all the other writing awards that are given out each year, just as a comparison. I’d be willing to bet women are recognized a lot more, and held in higher esteem, than the article writer implies. Besides, it’s a fact of the literary world that the best writing never gets recognized or rewarded. Witness that moron who made millions of dollars writing mediocre novels about sparkly vampires.


  4. Jen
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 13:42:32

    Um, did you read the whole article, moon? O_o

    I don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of it, but the Miles Franklin Award is the most prestigious literary award in Australia. It’s not “just one award”. The article also mentioned 5 other Australian awards, as well as reviews in a dozen other literary sources. Did you not read that part?

    I am so fucking sick of hearing people say ”Oh, statistics can say whatever you want them to say!” as if that sweeps the whole nasty problem under the carpet where we don’t have to think about it any more because acknowledging the problem is just too hard, and recorded numbers can be made to magically disappear. I welcome constructive criticism, moon, but if you’re just going to oppose everything I say, at least find some studies or statistics of your own to back up your opinions. It’s not enough to read a well-researched article and say ”hmm, that doesn’t seem right to me.” You need to PROVE IT. Find me a statistic that shows women win the majority of literary awards, anywhere.

    (I”m sorry to take it out on you, but the troll-guy on that other entry has made me rather pissy. And you are the second person this week to pull the ”statistics don’t mean anything!” card on me specifically to wave away the problem of sexism, which is why I jumped down your throat. :P)


  5. Acacia Pepler
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 14:01:45

    Did you read the whole article? It has stats for 6 Australian awards (only one of which women are equal to men), 8 International and 3 international newspapers for book reviews (none more than 40% female, most close to 20% female reviewers/books reviewed). So no, if it was just one award your position would be justified; with this many data points it looks more systematic. And we can do further research – how many Hugo Award winners are female? 3/11 in the decade 2001-2010, 8/52 nominees (from Wiki). The Campbell award for new writers is more 50/50, but for best novel looks like only four women ever. Pretty low, really.

    It’s similar to how some recent anthologies of “the best sci fi short stories ever” managed to be entirely male authors (e.g. http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2009/08/toc-the-mammoth-book-of-mindblowing-sf-edited-by-mike-ashley/). Also, if the “best writing never gets recognised” and it’s the MALE authors who are more likely to be recognised, what does that say?


  6. Acacia Pepler
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 14:02:57

    *I meant 8 international and 3 australian papers for book reviews


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