The Count 2010, VIDA data for publishing women in literary magazines

The TLS is only interested in getting the best reviews of the most important books,” and “while women are heavy readers, we know they are heavy readers of the kind of fiction that is not likely to be reviewed in the pages of the TLS.“ (Peter Stothard, making his own importance)

So are Newspaper literary supplements and literary magazines not employing women reviewers,editors and /or  critics, or are they just riddled with meddlesome women-misogynists who think that fellating the alpha-male  poet/ fiction writer is a recognition of women’s contribution to the literary arts ?

At the end of 2010 the editorial and best books lists began to emerge, list after list evinced a paucity of women writers in poetry, in fiction and in the arts. Interestingly,the horizontal media feeds like Twitter and Facebook hardly picked up on the issue of the profound absence of women writers from the 2010 lists.

Article 1 

4 Times Square, 20th Floor

New York, NY 10036

Dear Editors of the New Yorker,

“I am writing to express my alarm that this is now the second issue of the NYer in a row where only two (tiny) pieces out of your 76 page magazine are written by women.  The January 3rd, 2011 issue features only a Shouts & Murmurs (Patricia Marx) and a poem (Kimberly Johnson).  Every other major piece—the fiction, the profile, and all the main nonfiction pieces—is written by a man.  Every single critic is a male writer.

We were already alarmed when we flipped through the Dec 20th & 27th double-issue to find that only one piece (Nancy Franklin) and one poem (Alicia Ostriker) were written by women.  A friend pointed out that Jane Kramer wrote one of the short Talk of the Town segments as well, though it barely placated our sense of outrage that one extra page, totaling three, out of the 148 pages in the magazine, were penned by women.  Again, every critic is a man.  To make matters more depressing, 22 out of the 23 illustrators for the magazine are men.  Seriously!

Women are not actually a minority group, nor is there a shortage, in the world, of female writers.  The publishing industry is replete with female editors, and it would be too obvious for me to point out to you that the New Yorker masthead has a fair number of female editors in its ranks.  And so we are baffled, outraged, saddened, and a bit depressed that, though some would claim our country’s sexism problem ended in the late 60’s, the most prominent and respected literary magazine in the country can’t find space in its pages for women’s voices in the year 2011.

I have enclosed the January issue and expect a refund.  You may either extend our subscription by one month, or you can replace this issue with a back issue containing a more equitable ratio of male to female voices. I plan to return every issue that contains fewer than five women writers.  You tend to publish 13 to 15 writers in each issue; 5 women shouldn’t be that hard.”

A dismayed reader,

Anne Hays

Article 2 : From VIDA , The Count ( December 2010):

“The truth is, these numbers don’t lie. But that is just the beginning of this story. What, then, are they really telling us? We know women write. We know women read. It’s time to begin asking why the 2010 numbers don’t reflect those facts with any equity. Many have already begun speculating; more articles and groups are pointing out what our findings suggest: the numbers of articles and reviews simply don’t reflect how many women are actually writing. VIDA is here to help shape that discussion. Please tell us about the trends you’ve witnessed in your part of the writing world. Let us know what you think is going on. We’re ready and anxious to hear from you. We’re ready to invest our efforts and energy into the radical notion that women are writers too”

Article 3 : The Harriet blog, published by Poetry Foundation has taken up the issue , and I am excerpting here:

Here at Poetry we were all interested in “The Count” that VIDA recently produced. Interested, but not especially surprised. The count shows—with pretty devastating consistency—that women are under-represented in all of the major literary magazines, including Poetry (though Poetry fares much better than the others).

This didn’t surprise us because the issues that VIDA are raising have long been of concern to us. The disparity is something I first noticed seven years ago when I commissioned Averill Curdy to write an essay wondering where all the women poetry critics were. Subsequent issues contained responses from well-known women poet-critics of another generation . The aim was to provoke a conversation, first of all, but more importantly to get more women writing in the back pages of the magazine. More recently, senior editor Don Share participated in a roundtable on gender and publishing sponsored by VIDA.”

Poetry, The Harriet Blog (Poetry Foundation)

Article 4: Guardian Discussion on the VIDA figure which elicited a quote from Peter Stothard (TLS) :

The TLS is only interested in getting the best reviews of the most important books,” and “while women are heavy readers, we know they are heavy readers of the kind of fiction that is not likely to be reviewed in the pages of the TLS.

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