Canadian Women in the Literary Arts

I'm a little late to the party on this one (as is often the case when leaving the country for a few weeks - I'm back, by the way!), but this seemed important enough to risk a little redundancy in posting about it.

Almost three years after VIDA started crunching the numbers in order to display, statistically, the disproportionate number of U.S. literary reviews directed towards male-authored books, Canada has finally gotten on board and started doing the same via the Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA) website.

The pie-charts and graphs that the CWILA collective compiled are quite interesting, and sometimes striking. A sample:

You can take a look at all the charts and graphs for 2011 by clicking here.

It's interesting to me that the best-selling, "biggest" magazines and papers (The Walrus, The National Post, etc.) are the least gender-balanced in their reviewing (this is true in the U.S. counts, as well, where the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books are among the worst offenders). What's the chicken and who's the egg and which came first? How much of the blame for this lies with us, as readers? And do the answers to such questions make any difference in how editors and activists should respond to the problem?

I'm sure the folks at CWILA are already thinking about these questions, and many more. Through essays, interviews and, starting next year, a Critic-in-Residence, they are working towards solutions to the problem they are tallying up.

Do check out the site. Hopefully it will get you thinking, as it has for me. Thanks for all the work you put into this, CWILA-peeps!


Pearl said...

aren't biggest sellers often barbaric and/or bland. see any given popular box office movie? they tend to amplify or caricature small cultural trends. would it follow that even a 2% tilt towards pro-male in media echo, including movies and poetry, would become 30%

that which challenges our biases aren't going to be gratifying to the majority because life is hard enough without a hard slog in entertainment too.

Rob Taylor said...

Yeah, I hear you.

What are editors to do about it then, if they still want to sell issues? Or is that desire to sell issues the problem? (I don't mean that sarcastically, by the way - I'm a raving anti-capitalist leftist at heart :).