30 Rock, Franzenfreude, and VIDA: Women Writers

1 Mar

Last week’s 30 Rock was an episode titled “TGS Hates Women,” a commentary on late summer’s “Franzenfreude” and the recent findings by VIDA that women writers don’t get as much attention as male writers.

When I look around the publishing house I work in and the classroom at the MFA program I attend, I see women.  Lots of them.  That’s not to say there aren’t any guys.  There are.  I see them in their windowed offices, I attend the lectures they organize, and I read the newsletters they write.  That isn’t to say there aren’t women in high-level, high-visibility roles.  There are.  But the percentage of men versus women in these upper-management roles is significantly skewed.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I read VIDA’s “The Count 2010.”

The short take is that men far outnumber women in getting published in lit mags and having their books reviewed.  I definitely agree with the commenters that the statistics are inconclusive without the facts of how many women versus men submit manuscripts. My editor friend Elizabeth sent me this follow up to the article, in which the editors responded to the criticism that their publications don’t publish an equal ratio of women to men.

Part of the problem is that women do not submit to well-known, “gender-neutral” publications at the same rate as men.  A few months ago, I went with my writer friend Jane to hear Lorrie Moore (Birds of America) talk with fiction editor Deborah Treisman at the wonderfully designed (hello, tilting fish-tank!) (le) Poisson Rouge for The New Yorker Festival. One of the comments that stuck out the most for me (Elissa Bassist, with whom I took class taught by Susan Shapiro, offers further notes on The Rumpus) was that men more often than women submit stories to The New Yorker, which is why men, more often than women, get published in The New Yorker.

I am a feminist, not a whiner.  I don’t believe in railing against the injustices of this or that without actually doing something positive to enact change.  Dialogue itself is useful but dialogue without action is meaningless.  It reminds me of the whole Christian debate of faith versus works, which is solved quite eloquently by the phrase “faith without works is dead.”  In other words, we can talk until we’re blue in the face about how more women should be published but unless more women are submitting quality work and unless more women are studying and working hard to become editors and unless we get over the silly notion that matters of politics are for men and the world at large and matters of domestic life are for women exclusively then all our philosophizing is for naught.  (Yes, I just said “for naught.”)

Women, if you want to be taken seriously as writers and if you want to get published then study writing, write, revise, and submit to publications!  Aim high.  If you get a rejection, try to find out why.  Then find another publication that you believe is a good fit for your writing style (remember there’s a huge difference between Cosmo and The Times) and submit.  Take classes, form writing groups, seek out professional freelance editors, and work on your craft, continually submitting high-quality work.  Make your writing so good they can’t say no!

Let’s not end up like Elaine Mozell in Meg Wolitzer‘s The Wife. Let’s look at the example Tina Fey set by becoming the first female head writer of Saturday Night Live.   And wouldn’t you know it, she’s a Greek!

Advertisements

10 Responses to “30 Rock, Franzenfreude, and VIDA: Women Writers”

  1. Queen March 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    If I read correctly David Remnick, Editor of The New Yorker would like to be of help. Maybe we can submit articles worthy of reading and see what happens.

  2. Fletcher June 21, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a great
    article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

    • Stephanie Nikolopoulos June 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      Thanks, Fletcher! I know what you mean — I have so many things I want to do and not enough time. I try to make a to-do list and check them off one by one, according to priority. Good luck, and keep me posted on your projects!

  3. singapore t-shirt printing June 25, 2013 at 4:14 am #

    I absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.
    can you offer guest writers to write content for you?

    I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome web log!

  4. fluorescent light July 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts
    as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog?
    My blog is in the very same niche as yours
    and my visitors would certainly benefit from some of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Appreciate it!

  5. managing reputation online July 3, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Your mode of telling all in this paragraph is genuinely nice, every one
    be able to simply know it, Thanks a lot.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Murder a Woman’s Sense of Worth « Stephanie Nikolopoulos - May 20, 2011

    […] the VIDA findings so surprising […]

  2. Gender Bias Strikes Again in the Lit World | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - March 6, 2013

    […] years ago, I presented the argument I’d heard that women aren’t submitting as often as men to the big-name publications. I’ve […]

  3. Vice’s Suicide Poet: Beat Writer Elise Cowen | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - June 20, 2013

    […] 2013 featuring all women fiction writers. So far, so good. In fact, almost exemplary considering VIDA’s stats that women authors aren’t equally published. The issue features works by Joyce Carol Oates and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: