Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We Need Women Writers!

I read not one, but two articles today talking about the dearth of women writers working in the industry today. One talked about the small number of women working in the television/film industries, and the other talked about the small number of women writers who appear in the major literary magazines.

This is bad news for women writers looking for work and it's bad news for our culture. Women writers bring a perspective no man can share, regardless of the amount of research he does. A woman, all women, have a decidedly different way of looking at life from men because, well, they're decidedly different.

I know as many, if not more, women writers than I do men. In fact, when it comes to poetry and fiction and stories about life, love and loss, the women writers I know far out number the men. The male writers I know tend to be journalists; beat reporters, sports writers and occasionally a poet or short fiction writer. I happen to know a number of writers and the fact that fewer women writers are finding professional success than men simply does not compute.

I keep hearing that there are economic factors at work here. Those who defend the status quo say that men have limited interests and are less likely to read something written from a woman's point of view. This makes no sense when you consider the across-the-board success of books like "The Color Purple" and films such as "Bridesmaids." Both of those were written by women, of course.

There are also those who continue to postulate that it is perhaps the fault of the women writers who prefer to stay home and raise babies, or clean house, rather than pursue a career in an industry fraught with long hours and low pay.

This is, of course, rubbish in my opinion. In my experience women have shown they can work longer and harder than their male counterparts for much less, especially when it is something close to their heart. (As a writer I can also say that writing is ALL heart.)

No, I think there is something much more insidious at work here: A male dominated industry continuing to defer to men so they can maintain business as usual. Women, they seem to think, offer nothing worth their time and effort and therefore should be relegated to shuffling papers, answering phones and "looking pretty."

Am I being harsh? Yes. For good reason. Half of the humans living on this planet are women and it's long past time they get an equal share of everything this world has to offer. If they choose not to pursue something let it be because they have chosen differently, not because too many obstacles have been placed in front of them just because of their gender. Those days are (should be) over.

Welcome to the 21st Century.


SS Bazinet said...

Thank you for your article! Happily, there is hope for all of us women who are writers. Success is out there waiting. Some have already claimed it. According to Wiki, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly four billion copies, and her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the Bible, as the most widely published books. Forbes estimated J. K. Rowling's net worth to be US$1 billion. But I understand your point and applaud you for your well wishes. It's much appreciated!

Lorraine Devon Wilke said...

Any deflection that says women writers want to stay home, make babies, clean house and, therefore, are less ambitious is, as you put it, pure rubbish. While many of us HAVE done or will do those most noble tasks, most of us remain deeply ambitious and fiercely dedicated to our work and creativity. And yet most find that our vigilant and consistent attempts to land decent writing jobs in film and TV, as well as in periodicals and online newspapers, are met with a resounding lack of response. It's not even necessarily about rejection, it's about NO RESPONSE. So know that we're out here honing our craft and pounding pavements just like the guys...we'd just love to jump into that pool of maleness called Paid Writing Gigs...we'll even laugh at the stupid jokes at the writers' table! :)

Suzan Tisdale said...

Thank you for your article. It might make you feel better to know that I know far more women writers than I do men! lol...Perhaps its because of the genre I write in? Who knows. But thanks for your perspective. ;o)

Morgan Barnhart said...

I definitely agree with the plight. Males do still dominate the entertainment industry and the literary industry in general. It's staggering to see why there aren't more women writers.

It's interesting, though, because personally, I know more women writers than I do men. However, whenever I go to a writing group, I see far more men than women.

However, simply knowing more women doesn't make up for the fact that there are few published women writers.

I am right there with you when you say women work harder and longer. Most of the women I know are way harder workers than their male counterparts. So it just baffles me why women aren't being taken more seriously.

Anyway, thank you for sharing this!

Jerry Battiste said...

I think the bias toward woman is easier to enforce because women are more apt than men to pursue important personal issues (family needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs) so they are more willing to bend.

It still bugs me though....