Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Blogging as a Feminist Reader

I compose my blog posts as an individual, as a woman, and as a feminist. (As we know, the latter two categories overlap but are not the same; some women are not feminists, and some men are.) I am pretty sure that those who have read this blog with any frequency will have noticed that I read and post about substantially more books by women than by men. And I often discuss in my posts a writer’s status as a feminist, or the feminist perspectives of certain books. (A quick search in the search box in the top lefthand corner of this blog will show numerous uses of the words “feminist” and “feminism.”) As a feminist reader, I am drawn (although of course not exclusively) to books by women writers, and/or with women main characters. I think about which gender messages the book sends. I think about how the book contributes to the larger history and culture of literature by women and literature in general. Of course I read and appreciate good books by male writers, and especially appreciate them if they seem to have a feminist sensibility, by which I mean they include women characters as people, not as marginal characters or accessories to the main story, or worse. But for so many years, especially during my childhood and young adulthood, most books that were available, and that we read in school, or that were recommended to us as classics, as “the best,” were by male writers. So in a sense I have been, in my own reading, in my teaching, and in my blogging, evening the balance ever since. I am very glad that more women are writing and being published and read. But reports from writers and women’s organizations show that there is still discrimination in the publishing world, such as in the ways books (and other literary works – stories, poems, essays) are chosen, labeled, marketed, reviewed, and awarded prizes. (For information on this, I recommend the organization VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, especially its annual counts of representation of women in literary magazines, etc.) So there is still progress to be made. I hope it is clear that I am not prejudiced against books by male writers, or for books by female writers. I just want a balance in their roles in the world of books.
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