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Women Writers: The Continuing Saga

Tanya Paperny / Monday, June 6, 2011 Comments Off

I’ve written several posts about gender inequity in the writing profession here at LitDrift. To catch up, read those posts here, here and here.

It’s still hard out there for us ladywriters. Writer-esses? Oi vey.

First we have celebrated (Nobel laureate, ahem) writer, novelist and essayist V.S. Naipaul saying that there is no woman who is his literary equal. I’ll let him do the talking (courtesy of The Guardian piece):

He said: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.”?The author, who was born in Trinidad, said this was because of women’s “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world”. “And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too,” he said.

Then we have the newly-released statistics, courtesy of VIDA, that analyze the gender breakdown of the authors included in the Best American anthologies in poetry, fiction, and essays. I’ll let the numbers do the talking:

In the Best American Essays Series from 1986 through 2010, the numbers look dire across the board. Works by women accounted for only 29% of those published in the anthology. There was only one year in twenty-five that the number of works by women published in the anthology outnumbered the works by men.

Read the complete results here.

Gender equity in publishing is still escaping our grasp, but with the exciting growth of independent presses and publishers cropping up around the country, perhaps this will slowly start to change.

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