If you study the numbers you might notice that the publishing industry is dominated by male writers. The cold hard statistics are right here. And they’re a little bit alarming.
The VIDA: Women in Literary Arts have been crunching the numbers for three years, and each year has shown that publications regarding male writers are significantly higher than those about women (in some cases, up to five times higher – The New York Review of Books, I’m looking at you!).
I don’t think that these numbers necessarily reflect our individual tastes, and I’m sure there are those of you who are saying, “But my favourite book is by a woman!” (Yeah, me too*).
What these numbers do prove is that the publishing industry has a tendency to favour men. This may be a subconscious act or something that is slowly being reformed after years of sexism and hasn’t quite hit the mark yet; but whatever is going on with the paper-pushers, it needs to be recognised and dealt with.
Joanna Walsh recently wrote an article about the #readwomen2014 project, encouraging us to pick up a book by a woman once in a while. And while that’s all well and good, and may bring this inequality to light, it doesn’t entice me on a personal level.
Personally, I feel that I read plenty of books by women. But I also read plenty of books by men.
When I buy a book or add something to my ‘To-Read’ list it’s not because of sex or gender. It’s because the story sounds interesting and the writing looks good. There are lots of others who do the same and this is a good thing.
And although that’s just how I roll, it still begs the question: what’s up with the crazy stats on Men vs. Women? Writing isn’t a man’s game and men aren’t always better writers than women. So if people like me aren’t buying books based on sex then why on earth is there such a discrepancy?
I shudder to think that there are readers out there who would pick up a good book, see that the author is a woman, and put it back down. I’d like to think that our society isn’t stuck in the fifties. I’d like to think that this is the fault of deluded publishers, and not the general public.
*Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad.