Same Numbers, Different Year

Another year, another VIDA count.  When you look at the raw numbers, it is disheartening, particularly given that this is the third year the count has been done. Three years is enough time to create change, even if it’s a little change. I’m tired of conversations. What else is there to say? Editors don’t give enough of a damn to change the status quo. 

There’s nothing to really say at this point. The gender (and racial) inequity exists. It is stark. Counting is useful for reminding us.

I don’t think the VIDA numbers are perfect. I don’t think numbers alone can tell the entire story about gender equity in major publications. That said, the numbers do mean something. They do matter. At some point, we have to move beyond historical inequities as an explanation. It is 2013, not 1993. 

When these statistics come out, people love to talk about all sorts of mathematical reasons why perhaps these numbers aren’t as bad as they seem, as if we can rationalize our way out of bullshit.

One of the favored stances is that it’s really all about submission ratios. Please. How much work from the submission queue gets into The New Yorker? These are magazines that publish a great deal of work from their staffs and by solicitation. I’m absolutely willing to agree that submission queues are, for most magazines great and small, dominated by white men. There are any number of reasons why this might be the case but editors can easily solve this problem. There is an abundance of diversity, not just in terms of writers, but in terms of aesthetic, in the writing world. Reach out and touch someone. 

Tin House, is a bright spot and there are a couple others but it’s sad that this is the prize, that we’re grateful for these scraps from the editorial table.

I think what’s hardest is that I read these magazines and I respect them. I subscribe to The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Harper’s, London Review of Books, and sometimes Tin House, because I enjoy reading them. I enjoy learning from them or finding things to disagree with. I hope to write for these publications someday, not because I’m a woman, but because I have a perspective that is, I think, unique. 

We get so bogged down in these numbers that we forget that diversity isn’t just about numbers. It is about diversity of thought and one of the best ways to include a diversity of thought is by sharing perspectives from a diverse group of people who will, by virtue of who they are and how they move through the world, have interesting things to say. It’s simplistic to say this is simply about men and women. It’s about so much more.