There is a mini-controversy brewing over an alleged paucity of female writers at the venerable New Yorker magazine. I became aware of this wee matter when a friend sent me an item from Young Feminist Taskforce entitled “Bring diversity to the New Yorker.”
A blogger called Rachel was writing in support of a woman called Anne Hays (no relation to this blogger!) who had earlier written the editors to express her “outrage about the lack of female contributers [SIC] to the magazine and demanding a refund for issues that feature less than five female writers.”
Actually, the correct locution is “fewer than five female writers.” Does Rachel really think that the New Yorker, where prominent liberals hang their chapeaux, has a policy of discouraging female writers? If there are two articles, one a great one buy a male writer and one a so-so one by a woman, should the editor pick the one by the woman? Does Rachel think that articles have been rejected on the basis of gender? Beats me.
Rachel is not new to this issue, having written the editors in 2009. Alas, it wasn’t only the lack of women writers that distressed her then:
And the lack of diversity in your pages goes beyond gender – there are
virtually no women or men of color contributers to the magazine. In
fact, out of a total of 91 contributing writers (of which only 23% or
21 were women), only ONE writer was a woman of color (Edwidge
Danicat). And out of the remaining 70 male writers, only FOUR were
Rachel notes the effect of this perceived insufficiency of diversity:
This means there are endless [SIC] talented female writers,
critics, artists and thinkers out there – which leaves no excuse for
any issue to be so devoid of female representation. For such a
thoughtful magazine, this was a supremely unthinking (and male-
centric) choice to make and an oversight that I truly hope is taken
seriously and reflected upon.
Would that there were an endless stream of talented writers, critics, artists, and thinkers, male or female, out there! Editors look for talent and don’t care about the gender or ethnicity of a contributor. Good writers are not a dime a dozen,and I can’t imagine the New Yorker, which publishes articles by many fine woman writers, cares a whit about the gender of an author.
Most of us read magazines for their content and style, not to do an ethnic or gender tally.