amongst books

amongst books

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Women and Publishing

Do women need a special category in order to be published? Jessica Smith and I are having an interesting debate about this subject over on Gregory Betts' blog. She informs me me that men outnumber women 2:1. Not sure whether she means in publishing in general, in poetry, or in the avant garde world of poetry.

She also informs me that Toronto is an old boys club and that women in the literary scene there face sexual harrassment. If this is the case, I'm glad I don't live in Toronto, because anyone who tried to harrass me sexually would experience much ridicule, public humiliation and a law suit. I've met the occasional idiot in Toronto, and haven't had the chance to go to more than a handful of readings there, but on the surface, it looks like it has a thriving scene, full of both males and females working together in harmony. Is this all a charade? If so, why does no one come forward and deal with this openly? I mean no disrespect, but I hear rumour and innuendo and the so-called harrassment in Toronto is being used to substantiate the need for women's only presses and publications, something I find highly objectionable and patronizing to women, turning us into victims.

I'd love to hear from anyone in the literary scene who has opinions on this.

My own belief is that I don't want a special category in order to be published. I want my writing to be the basis for publication. Am I being naive? In Canada I see plenty of female poets published. Am I wrong? Is it not the case in the States? Are women not published down there?


CLAY BANES said...

it all depends where you're standing.

i just stumbled upon your post. i'd say from here, things are good. the post i made earlier tonight on my own blog, about fabulous new books i'd just received (i am, among other things, a bookseller), i have to think about now are almost all by women. of the poets i hosted this spring: more women than men.

i don't mean to say everything's peachy. hardly anything in this world is peachy.

i am sure there is a particular kind of sexism within the hierarchy of post-avant, academic poetry. also i'm betting a classism and likely a racism.

if anybody wants to start another all-women poetry press, i think that's great.

Amanda Earl said...

Thanks for finding me and reading my post, Clay. You see, actually, I don't have a problem with anyone starting any kind of a press they want; however, what I object to is the notion that women need to be coddled and protected. I consider this to be patronizing. Also what difference does it make whether someone identifies as male or female? Why should that be a deciding factor in whether they are published? What if someone identifies as both? Take a look at a writer like Ivan E.Coyote who doesn't specify a gender. The stories Ivan writes are about being judged as either male or female. I think it's time to end gender bias. I know this is ridiculously naive and idealistic of me, but I believe in speaking out, even if I'm the only voice to speak.

CLAY BANES said...

amanda, i share the same personal distaste for coddling and protection.

haven't said that—among younger, "emerging" poets in the u.s., it looks from where i stand to have gotten much better gender-wise, that "women" are more represented and read more as poets by poets, rather than by women as women, or probably worse by men as women. compared to x years ago, where x = not so long ago.

to each her own.