La VIDA Feminina

Well, as soon as I saw this post from The Living Notebook in my email this morning, I knew what I was (re) blogging about today.

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts has released The Count 2012, a look at the numbers in publishing as they break down along gender lines. Probably not surprisingly, many more men than women are published in some of the nation’s top literary journals and magazines. Check out The Count here.

This is, obviously, an issue that affects me. In college I wrote my senior thesis about the notion of the “woman writer” and anthologies of women’s writing. Is the moniker “woman writer” reductive, I asked? Did anthologies of women’s writing highlight and give space to women’s voices, or did they reinforce the idea that women writers are inferior (separate and thus, not equal)?

I never successfully answered those questions; I still haven’t. They’re complicated. My own publishing history is spotty, and I wonder if I attempted to publish as SE Meserve, gender ambiguous, whether I’d have graced a few more literary journals in my day. Quite honestly, I don’t think about my sex that much when I write. But when I look at The Count I feel more aware of the ways that the already uphill battle of being a writer is exacerbated by being female.


Woman Writer. Looking…shocked at the findings from VIDA?

Maybe this explains why I always get rejections from Boston Review.

Of course, one has to investigate further: how do these statistics play out in terms of numbers of memoirs published by women and men, respectively, every year? In literary fiction and poetry? Do newer, smaller journals do better at gender equality than Harper’s and Boston Review?

Next time you pick up a literary journal or a magazine, look at the number of women published in it. And in the meantime, I’ll try to get some statistics from the book publishing industry to share.

Keep the faith, ladies.