I don’t think there’s any grand, mustachio-twirling conspiracy to keep women down. But that’s just it, there doesn’t have to be. If you pick books from what you see around you and what you’ve grown up with and the names you see in the trade press, none of which requires any sort of malice, the monoculture persists.Inequality affects women in many, many ways, all of which I care about. But the bookish world is, after all, where I spend most of my time. So if I’m zooming in on the ways in which inequality manifests itself here, it’s because I feel I can make a small difference through my blogging and my job. So to return to what I said last year, “I may be tiny in the grand scheme of things, but I can help fight this by creating and maintaining a space where women are not routinely ignored. (…) Through my blogging I’ll attempt to create spaces where women like me have a voice, and where women’s writing is prioritised.”
People say it’s just SFF, but it isn’t. It’s literary fiction, it’s non-fiction, it’s everywhere that collections of books are assessed and displayed. The one exception might be romance, and female writers pay for their prominence there with the stigma that attends their entire genre.
When it comes to work, I can make sure we don’t see a repeat of what McDougall reported when it’s my turn to create or top up displays at my library. I’ve tried to be mindful about this all along, but in the past few months I renewed my efforts. It’s a small thing, but it’s a concrete way in which I can help, and doing so is very satisfying. Also, this year I got to celebrate International Women’s Day library style, with — you guessed it — a book display. Last year I put together a small impromptu one on the day itself, but this year I got our premium display location and a much longer time frame: two display bays on the first floor facing the entrance for the whole week leading up to International Women’s Day. In addition to books, I used the excellent free resources put together by We Are Equal, and I linked the display to local IWD events. I also made sure to avoid insidious forms of inequality like the one Aarti was talking about the other day by featuring not only works about gender and inequality, but works by women writers.
Further links of interest:
- The Lives of Great Women Writers: A Literary Festival in a Day (I desperately wish I could go to this, but unfortunately it clashes with a weekend trip I had planned.)
- Read Women 2014
- On Influence
- What happens when you tell people you’re reading only women?
- The Year I Didn’t Retweet Men (and follow-up)
- Gender and the NYT YA bestseller list
- 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project List
- 14 women writers to watch in 2014
- “This isn’t rocket science. There are no excuses.”
- A Mo Willems Extravaganza and a worrying thought