Thursday, March 8, 2012

More on Women Writers and Their Coverage

As I've already admitted, I read more female authors than male authors. This isn't intentional, it's just something that happens--women tend to write about what I want to read about. A woman in a book is often more fully realized than women in other medias (though I guess this is an argument that can be made for both genders), the different facets of her life are explored, women of all ages can be the main character, etc, and a female author is more likely to write about women.

I don't feel guilty about it, because I do still read male authors and also pretty much everywhere else I go for story is going to be male dominated. There are SO MANY books that there are a lot more choices to make my reading diverse and to choose the kinds of stories I actually want to be reading.

It's interesting to me, though, that women writers continue to suffer under the weight of a lack of coverage. Renay just published the results of her own analysis of female coverage on SF/F blogs and the results are pretty disheartening, while the discussion is fantastic. And then I somehow got linked to this post on bloggers being considered for the Hugo awards that depressed me beyond all measure. If there is one realm I've always thought females dominated it was in book blogging, but apparently not in SF/F book blogging. I don't read these genres, admittedly, except for YA at times and I'm not knowledgeable about why female authors and bloggers would struggle so much for recognition--most of the bloggers I read that cover these kinds of books are female with a few exceptions.

But it did get me thinking about another post I read awhile back. If I read more Christian nonfiction of the theological variety, I suspect I would suddenly be reading more males, simply because there are not a lot of women's voices who have gained the level of respect and clout as men have. Women's Christian nonfiction is often not thinky enough for me, it's not challenging, it doesn't engage the ideas I'm interested in thinking about which is why when I find a female writer or blogger who is, I can't stop talking about them. I have a lot more to say about this when I talk about Feminism is for Everybody because the chapter on spirituality hit a nerve with me, but this is not something I see as the fault of women so much as the role that's been cast for us based mostly on a singular Bible verse.

I also thought Jennifer Weiner's recent post about no longer writing anything negative about women writers in general was interesting. To be honest, I think the problem is more that she trashed another author rather than that she trashed a female author. It just never goes over well. I do find it discouraging that Franzen, the author whose coverage first brought on so much of this discussion, would write such an appalling piece about Edith Wharton.

I guess ultimately the important thing right now is that we're having these conversations. I mean, it's really causing me to reflect on my own reading and preferences and why those exist. I hope it's doing the same for others.

But! In more happy making news, the Orange Prize longlist was announced and there are a lot of great books by women on it!


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