Monday, November 9, 2009

Literary Sexism

So, a few days ago Publisher’s Weekly came out with their Best Books of 2009. There are some yummy books on the list for sure but as several folks have pointed out, no women writers made it to the exalted list. PW did pat themselves on the back for noticing the omission with the words: “We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz. We gave fair chance to the “big” books of the year, but made them stand on their own two feet. It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male”. Good for them.

That no females appeared on the list bothered me as much for the fact that I didn’t even notice until a few others pointed it out, than for the actual omission. I mean 2009 was a good year for women writers. I am neck deep in books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Margaret Atwood. And while I’m perhaps not the best judge, Women in Letters and Literary Arts put out their own list of great 2009 reads by women writers. in retrospect, I think maybe one of them might have made PW’s list.

Anyway, back to me, as Lizzie Skurnick, a contributor to Politics Daily, wrote in regards to the PW snub: “But that's the problem with sexism. It doesn't happen because people -- male or female -- think women suck. It happens for the same reason a sommelier always pours a little more in a man's wine glass (check it!), or that that big, hearty man in the suit seems like he'd be a better manager. It's not that women shouldn't be up for the big awards. It's just that when it comes down to the wire, we just kinda feel like men . . . I don't know . . . deserve them”.

Am I also guilty of such perceptions? Yikes. Back to Adichie and Atwood.

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