The VIDA Count, a survey of women’s representation in major literary journals, came out last week, but it has taken me a little while to form some thoughts on it.
As usual, the numbers do not look great. VIDA breaks them down multiple ways, looking at the number of female authors represented in the pages of venerable literary journals, as well as who has written the reviews. Not surprisingly, men – white men – are overwhelmingly represented, leaving the rest of us to sit on the sidelines. In spite of the fact the publishing and bookselling industries are made up of mostly females, those in positions of power remain male. More importantly, the editorial control of literary outlets continues to have a strong male bias.
All of this can seem rather bleak. But then I realized the power that we, as bloggers, wield.
- Book Bloggers are overwhelmingly female. In fact, I have to actively seek out male bloggers just to give me a different perspective. But the bottom line is, on the bookternet we control the conversation.
- People are increasingly looking to the internet to get their news. Obviously this does not just apply to the book world. The internet opens up a world of options to people seeking information. These people are looking for different voices and viewpoints. The internet has come to fill in the gap left by traditional media. In terms of books, look at the proliferation of blogs related to YA, romance and fantasy, genres not generally covered by the mainstream media.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
- Be the change you want to see. You got it. That means looking at your own reviewing practices and strive for gender parity. After my first year of blogging I looked at my first 100 reviews – 59% were by women. Hear that NYT? Yeah, that’s me tooting my own horn.
- Shout it out. Let the world know what you are doing. Use #ReadWomen2014 whenever and wherever you can. This is something I have to work on myself.
Remember, even though we cannot control what gets published and by whom, we can control what we choose to read and report about. Make your voices heard and let your opinions be known.