Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Men Still Dominate The Literary World

It never ceases to amaze me the way men dominate just about every aspect of our society. Especially the literary world.

I find it hard to believe that writers such as Alice Walker, Jane Austen and Maya Angelou are just flukes. In fact, they represent some of the finest writer I have ever had the privilege of reading.

So, why do we continue to see such a disparity between the number of men who are published in literary magazines and the number of women?

I am not writing today because I have an answer. I don't. But I do want to bring this issue to light because it's a big deal to me. My sister is a poet, my mother is a writer and my daughters (just 7 and 9 years old) write new stories every week. I would like to think they all stand an equal chance of being recognized for their work as their male counter parts, but I am seriously beginning to doubt that is the case.

I have a journalist friend, a woman, who was one of the finest writers I knew. Yet often her assignments were less challenging; less dangerous (if you will) and geared more toward sensitive, family or religious pieces than hard news. I felt she could have written on any number of subjects just as well as I did. I never thought much of it at the time, but was her beat assignment a reflection of the male bias or based more on her abilities?

Should I have spoken up? Should I have slipped her news assignments when my load was too heavy? Or does the responsibility lie with those who control the editorial desk?

I think that the best way to see more women recognized for their contributions to literature is for readers to begin demanding it. If we refuse to accept what they force us to read they will be forced to offer us something new. A new perspective, a female perspective, would be a refreshing change from what we have been reading.

I, for one, would be delighted to know that when it comes to having a literary career my daughters have the same chance as my sons. Not because they are female, but because what matters most is not what's between their legs but the words they put down on paper.

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