« Back to issue 44

Criticism's A Bitch


(page 2 of 3)

Shit, if I know. He tells me that 10% of his submissions come from females, with some plus or minus for names he can’t decipher. Does R.J. have a vagina?

“You want me to ask?”

He claims that if I did a women’s anthology, I would be all about the sisterhood. If he did the same, I’d come kick him in the nuts. I assure him I would not. His wife is fond of them, and I am all about the sisterhood.

But I consider his claims of a double standard, and my own conflicts about the remedies. Gender disparity in small press is not an easy issue to tackle, and I don’t think the answer lies in moving away from hard work and merit to a quota designed to interject numerical balance, contrived with good intentions but ultimately reducing women to token status. I think ladies can hold their own in that regard, on merit and talent, and I want to see the work selected because it is good. I am not proposing some kind of poetry affirmative action.

Ideally, I would take the physical characteristics and social circumstances out of the equation but would hope for that same neutrality in our opportunities.

We should also consider this idea of merit honestly. Like many social realms, we can see that there are other factors: who you know, whose ass you kiss, where you went to school, how many hot pictures you share, reciprocity,who writes flattering comments on every damn thing you put on facebook… Are we kidding ourselves when we talk about blind judgment? Sure, most editors will claim a level of integrity but the fact remains that the acts of curating, soliciting, editing… all of these involve their biases. So in that context, suggesting that editors have an eye for balance on the surface seems like a positive remedy.

Yet it doesn’t sit right with me.

A review of opinions and articles on this subject  yield a surprising range of opinions, and yes- a fair amount of generalizations. Mind you, these are not MY opinions, just a sampling of thoughts about the subject of female representation in small press:

-There is no disparity, it just means that you aren’t reading the “right” kind of publications. Move away from the frat boys and you will move away from their mentality.

-Men have less dignity, like dogs, and just want their bellies rubbed. They follow editors around and sniff their asses.

-Women are less concerned about “credit”, possibly because they are often conditioned to be less competitive. They aren’t looking for notches on their pencils.

Men, on the other hand, think with their pencils.

-Women are less aggressive, more selective, and submit to fewer publications in general because they have higher standards.

2 Likes | 2 Comments | Author

About Lynn Alexander

9 0
Lynn Alexander is the producer and editor of web and print content for Full Of Crow Press And Distribution, which includes Full Of Crow, Blink Ink, Fashion For Collapse, MUST, and other projects in addition to distribution of zines and independent publications. Visit <a href="http://fullofcrow.com/">Full of Crow</a>.


You must be a Red Fez member to comment.
Donna Snyder    6 months ago
Small presses are institutions, no matter how transgressive or counter culture their intent, and institutionalized sexism (as well as racism) is still thriving and striving to self justify. There is no need to reduce standards and practice what right wing politicos think of as affirmative action, exceptional and merely competent women writers are every where. True affirmative action is more about an even chance than an unfair preference. Moving away from the "frat boy" mentality is always a good thing in any endeavor. "Reaching out" is more about paying attention, removing one's own blinders, reading more widely in different sources, and, well, yes, holding out a hand or opening the door of invitation. It means not skipping the titles written or edited by women, maybe occasionally clicking the like button or leaving a comment, or even dropping a line saying you enjoy their work and encouraging them to submit. These not time consuming or burdensome steps, but small indications of potential welcome and appreciation. It's the 21st century and essays and articles such as this one are still relevant and important. What a shame. I'mglad Lynn wrote this and that Red Fez published it.
Crawdad Nelson    6 months ago
I've been a small press writer, editor and reader for quite a few years and the one thing that has always struck me is how open small presses are to everyone. As an editor I didn't consider gender and wouldn't really understand the rationale for making gender-based selections, if there is one. One conclusion I can draw is that men are more likely to be loud, obnoxious and mean-spirited in their small press work than women are, which tends to draw attention where it really doesn't belong.

The Flamenco Moon and Fourth of July in North Hollywood:

The great Andalusian poet Federico Garcia Lorca says that the moon can make silver coins sob in men’s pockets. The great American poet Wallace Stevens says that the moon is the mother of pathos and pity. But what is a flamenco moon?  What does...
The Flamenco Moon and Fourth of July in North Hollywood
by Aurelia Lorca