Gender and The New Yorker

Have you seen this blog post about a reader who is questioning the gender inequity between authors in The New Yorker? Anne Hays has written a letter to the magazine requesting that the magazine include at least 5 women writers in each issue, or she’ll be mailing it back. Check it out here.

I find the comments under the article to be particularly interesting, and they just go to show the lack of understanding about the way sexism works. The argument that women writers aren’t included because they probably don’t submit as much as men reminds me of something that a young man in my Intro to Women’s Studies said about lack of women artists in major art galleries. He said that it has nothing to do with the people selecting the art, or structural inequalities, and rather that women must not be good artists. (Four years later and that comment still infuriates me!) I don’t know that The New Yorker is purposefully being sexist, and I am sure there are a number of factors contributing to the lack of women writers but I think that they should definitely work on getting more work by women included. As Anne Hays points out, surely 5 out of 13/15 pieces isn’t that difficult? This also makes me wonder what the racial diversity of the magazine is like…not that we would want a magazine to have to fulfill quotas to fit a specific idea of “diversity” but I think all these questions are important because they make us think about whose voices are heard and whose are not, whose writing is considered good, and whose writing gets left out.

Anyways, this Women’s Studies grad student could go on and on about the different aspects of the situation, as well as the blog post that I find interesting/troubling–the title (“Girl Problems”) for example–but I’ll stop, and let all of you chime in with your thoughts!

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3 thoughts on “Gender and The New Yorker

  1. I wonder if the New Yorker has always had about this same guy to girl ratio. I also wonder if the New Yorker is actually mailing her back issues or doing anything at all. I guess it might really depend on how much coverage her efforts get.

  2. Please tell me you’ve read Linda Nochlin’s critical essay “Why There Are No Great Women Artists”?? …and if you haven’t, DO IT: http://www.miracosta.edu/home/gfloren/nochlin.htm. Incredible stuff. It’s not so much a question of female artists not existing or not being great and them not being allowed to achieve “greatness.” Female artists have always been there, existing somewhere in the margins, along the periphery, so to speak.

    And as a young art critic living in NYC and frequenting the Chelsea scene, I can promise you that there are currently PLENTY of women artists being represented in/by galleries today. Their shows were actually, I think (and so does Roberta Smith!), some of the strongest of 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/arts/design/19smith.html. Sue Williams, Joan Snyder, Sarah Sze, Judy Pfaf, Louise Bourgeois, Lee Lozano were up everywhere, if not having solo shows; group shows like “Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists” and “Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism” provided sparks amidst many duds. Speaking of the Brooklyn Museum, I just went the other day and saw Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” for the first time. Crazy awesome.

    Anyway, just thought you might be interested to hear thoughts from this end. Not to say that the issue is not still an issue, but we ladies are definitely making progress… in some areas more than others, I guess.

  3. Thanks for these thoughts!! I have heard of that article, and it is on my list of things to read. Thanks for reminding me about it. Unfortunately the link did not open, but I think I have it somewhere in an email a friend of mine sent me. (She is an art student at MICA and read it in one of her classes.) I should pull that out. I am always glad to hear from people who know more about a subject than I do!

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