Blake Butler, Kate Zambreno, Amy King and I recently had an interesting and lengthy conversation about gender, publishing and so much more, prompted by lots of things including the recent, and largely excellent discussion in Blake’s “Language Over Body” post about the second issue of We Are Champion. Over the next three days, I’m going to post that conversation and we all hope you guys join in on our conversation and share your thoughts.
Amy: I don’t know if you’ll be pleased to know that conjured your name today, Kate, over at Roxane’s gig, HTMLGIANT. A post pimping the second issue of a new mag, “We Are Champion,” doesn’t note that it’s an all-male issue or that the first one included the work of only three women. Just one tiny example of a recurring indicator that women writers still aren’t taken seriously, actively sought out, promoted, etc.
Kate: I actually thought the great majority of the conversation that went around this issue on HTML Giant seemed considered and thoughtful, both the idea of “counting” as seeming problematic, and shouldn’t it just be about the writing, and the other side problematizing how when such an inequity occurs it’s just dismissed as “this is just the best writing out there,” etc. I think it’s a worthwhile issue to explore, if there is still such an inequity in terms of numbers of women published in literary journals (or anyone not straight, white, men). I’m thinking of Juliana Spahr/Stephanie Young’s Number Trouble piece that was published in Chicago Review. I agree with Roxane that this We Are Champion that didn’t feature any women writers is a symptom of a gender inequity that might be still there in terms of innovative writing, but is not the disease itself. And that zeroing in on this one issue is not really getting at the larger context (although perhaps opening the discussion?)
Roxane: I’m a Libra so I often have many and conflicting opinions about things. I do think the all-male issue of We Are Champion is problematic but I also know that there are many factors involved in how a given issue of a magazine is assembled. While there are many, many problems with how women writers are treated, regarded, and promoted within the publishing community, I am not convinced that the second issue of a small online magazine is an indicator of a problem that is systemic, pervasive, and ongoing.