New York Tyrant

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Marcelle Heath

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Oct 30, 2010, 9:36:26 PM10/30/10
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I'm loving this issue - My favorite stories thus far are Dark Matter,
The State, and These are Broken, Funny Days. The writing is inventive,
smart, bombastic. What I'm definitely not loving is the fact that
there are only 3 women out of 31 contributors.

Owen Kaelin

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Oct 31, 2010, 11:02:49 AM10/31/10
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Sometimes stuff like that just happens. I'm sure the editors' first interest is publishing what they consider to be the best / most interesting material, and the matter of who ends up sending you their work is not something the editors can control.

Marcelle Heath

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Oct 31, 2010, 2:01:09 PM10/31/10
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I agree that editors don't have control over who ends up sending them work. I also feel that editors, if they so choose, can be proactive in how they represent themselves in terms of diversity and inclusion. I certainly don't want to undermine the writers who are represented here, whose work I greatly admire.



From: Owen Kaelin <owenk...@gmail.com>
To: litma...@googlegroups.com
Sent: Sun, October 31, 2010 8:02:49 AM
Subject: Re: [LMC] New York Tyrant

Matt Bell

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Oct 31, 2010, 2:04:18 PM10/31/10
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Tyrant has, in the past, done a "Lady Tyrant" issue, which was incredibly well-received and full of very strong work by female writers. So I don't think there's an all-male vibe there, and I don't think women should feel discouraged from submitting by Gian's aesthetic and his editorial style. I think he's represented himself well in this way in the past, even if the current issue seems male-heavy to new readers.

Best,
Matt
www.mdbell.com
How They Were Found

Mike Meginnis

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Oct 31, 2010, 2:12:05 PM10/31/10
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This bothered me too, but I would speculate it has more to do with the style of writing than any sort of hostility to women on Gian's part. My wife/the writer Tracy Bowling participated in what I thought was a good panel about gender imbalances in publishing and her argument was that while calling people out on imbalances was sometimes effective, the most useful thing for many editors to do would be to simply open themselves up a little more aesthetically. This issue seems to focus on a fairly particular set of aesthetic priorities somewhat to its own detriment -- a little more stylistic breadth would probably have solved this problem naturally. Which I think is true for a lot of publications. Notice that there are significant overlaps between the three stories by women, also; it seems like it's more an issue of enjoying a pretty specific thing that men tend to write more often than women.

The issue is good and the writing is strong, so this didn't ruin it for me, but it did bother me more as I read more. I think the imbalance is too big in a magazine too well known with too many contributors for me to feel comfortable explaining it away as luck of the draw.


mike

Marcelle Heath

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Oct 31, 2010, 2:31:21 PM10/31/10
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Thanks for your comment, Matt. I appreciate that NYT has actually done an all women issue and has a track-record for inclusive content. I don't want to categorically judge a journal for one issue that is male-heavy, but since new readers may be unfamiliar with their history, it is editors responsibility to look at what they are putting out there in terms of representation.

From: Matt Bell <mdbe...@gmail.com>
To: litma...@googlegroups.com
Sent: Sun, October 31, 2010 11:04:18 AM

Subject: Re: [LMC] New York Tyrant

Matt Bell

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Oct 31, 2010, 2:45:13 PM10/31/10
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Personally, I'd rather have editors who focused on putting out the strongest issues they can, based on their own aesthetic rather than outside standards of fairness and representation. I understand where you're coming from, but I don't think that should be the editor's goal when selecting an issue. Also, gender is a lot more complicated than male/female, as are all the other categories one might want to look at "in terms of representation," and I think any attempt at deliberate balancing is going to be wrong-headed at some level, and certainly it's not going to be focused on the art, which is where the editor's time and efforts should be going. As long as Gian and the rest of the staff aren't doing anything to suggest they're purposely excluding certain groups, or making the magazine unfriendly to those groups, then I don't think there's an issue.

Yhanks for hearing me out, and for voicing your own opinion on the matter.

Best,
Matt

Owen Kaelin

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Oct 31, 2010, 2:54:09 PM10/31/10
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I guess this does sort of bring up an interesting question of what a literary journal's social role is or ought to be. As a public force, are a journal's editors obligated by public responsibility to be fairly open and fairly presentational in a liberal society? Or as a private venture are the editors obligated only to their own aesthetic vision?

In public life, I think it's hard to maintain a position of merit-only and still be well-regarded on a broad scale. Editors make all kinds of concessions -- if not to provide a variety of voices then to provide a space for their friends and acquaintances. But... given this, I wonder how many editors -- either male or female -- would consider that added concession for a balance of male/female names to be too much concession?

Just thinking... .

Owen Kaelin

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Oct 31, 2010, 2:56:53 PM10/31/10
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Or... in that sense, does the fact that editors make concessions make it more . . . well, reprehensible, I guess . . . if they don't make concession to making a fair representation of the writing populace in terms of gender?

Mike Meginnis

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Oct 31, 2010, 3:00:47 PM10/31/10
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Matt, I agree with you, and of course you can't be treating things like a check list, especially when things are usually pretty complicated and difficult/somewhat pointless to suss out. (Good luck figuring out which of your contributors are black, gay, disabled, etc. in a way that doesn't seem ugly and stupid.)

But obviously if we're focusing exclusively on putting together the strongest issues we can, and there are significant gender imbalances in the resulting issues, it follows that either a) we have tastes that somehow exclude large portions of one of two genders, b) we haven't looked far enough beyond the obvious sources for contributors, or c) women aren't as good at writing as are men.

In this case I suspect it's a combination of a and b, which I think is true of most literary magazines in the US. We also skew upper class, educated, white, etc. (The discomfort in discussions at my school where I allude to how poor I grew up, or the conditions in which my family lived up until very recently, like for instance the days I lived on small bowls of vanilla yogurt, is pretty incredible.) Presumably this isn't because upper-class educated white people do most of the best writing. NYT isn't the poster-boy for this problem and it's not the definitive discussion to have about this issue, but at the same time waving it away as being entirely an issue of quality control necessarily implies that women aren't good writers, which I know you don't mean to say. The truth is more boring and more difficult at the same time: yes, we have a sexist literary culture that devalues the work of women across the board, and no, no one magazine can be blamed for it, or solve the problem. You do what you can, you apologize for what you can't, you keep working.


mike

Matt Bell

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Oct 31, 2010, 3:06:58 PM10/31/10
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"NYT isn't the poster-boy for this problem and it's not the definitive discussion to have about this issue, but at the same time waving it away as being entirely an issue of quality control necessarily implies that women aren't good writers, which I know you don't mean to say."

Mike I didn't say that, and I don't appreciate the suggestion that I did. I never implied it was an issue of quality, but of aesthetics. Here's what I said: " I'd rather have editors who focused on putting out the strongest issues they can, based on their own aesthetic..."

That's not the same thing as what you're suggesting, and as an editor yourself you know it's not. It's entirely possible to have a story that you would publish in your magazine that I wouldn't in mine, and that have nothing to do with the "quality" of the piece, but rather what kind of writing I want to publish and what kinds I don't, based on qualities completely separate from "good" or "bad" writing. There are stories that are very accomplished that we could all name that wouldn't fit in Tyrant, and Tyrant stories that wouldn't fit in other magazines. Aesthetics and "quality control"--a phrase I would never use to describe the editing process, as if I'm building automobile parts--are completely different issues.

Amber Sparks

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Oct 31, 2010, 3:23:39 PM10/31/10
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I think you also have to look at the pool of submissions--and I think that, unfortunately, it tends to be somewhat to very imbalanced. I know for Emprise Review, we get a lot more men than women submitting, and I know Roxane has made this point in regard to PANK as well. And I remember several months ago when >kill author posted on their blog about how they really really wanted to publish some women but that hardly any were submitting. 

I wonder what the submission ratio of women to men is at Tyrant. That might have a lot to do with it. You can try to be balanced, but if you're getting five stories from men to every one story by a woman, it would be pretty hard to be balanced and still get the stories you want.

Mike Meginnis

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Oct 31, 2010, 3:15:13 PM10/31/10
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Okay -- it looks like I misread you. What you're saying is more interesting than what I read, but it also seems (and keep in mind here, Matt, that I respect you tremendously as a writer and as an editor, as I'm sure you know) potentially more troubling in its implications.

I mean ultimately I agree with you that probably what happened here was that there were a lot of submissions by men and by women, and then the way it happened to work out was that many, many more of the submissions by men happened to fit the aesthetic of the magazine better than did those submissions by women. I actually think this is the case in the vast majority of publications that tend to favor work by men: it's not that they're sexist, it's that their aesthetic is more often attempted and successfully executed by men than by women.

But why would we, as a culture, tend to favor forms and styles where men are more frequently successful, or where women feel in some way discouraged from participation?

Or, in other words, if we find ourselves excluding women for purely aesthetic or stylistic reasons, doesn't that suggest that there is something wrong with our aesthetics or stylistic preferences? 


mike

Owen Kaelin

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Oct 31, 2010, 3:25:04 PM10/31/10
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I suppose if, say, 20% of the submissions to a given journal are from men, then that suggests that a journal's readership is 20% male and 80% female . . . if we're assuming that the great majority of readers are writers... so in that context I suppose it only makes sense that the content reflect this. The problem, of course, is that the readers aren't likely to know the male/female stats on the journal's readership.

Maybe we need a male/female meter for each issue, eh? This season we received... .

...Sorry... .

Amber Sparks

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Oct 31, 2010, 3:35:04 PM10/31/10
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I wouldn't say, though, that submissions reflect the readership, necessarily. Just because you read a magazine doesn't mean you'll submit to it, too. I mean, realistically I understand that a lot of the people who read any given lit mag are probably its submitters, too--but there are certainly a lot of people that read lit mags but never submit, may not even be writers or don't think that particular mag fits their asthetic. (For example: I love NOON--it's one of my favorite magazines and I buy it every year--but I'd never submit because I know my style is one hundred percent wrong for them.) Also, for many, many reasons, I suspect but can't prove that women submit a lot less than men do in general, not just to certain mags. I think that's the larger problem, really--much larger than any ideas I have about how to fix such things.

Marcelle Heath

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Oct 31, 2010, 3:49:44 PM10/31/10
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I agree with Amber here about the number of women submitting vs men (It's highly likely women feel daunted by the landscape) and with many points everyone has made - Matt, I completely concur that gender is much more complicated than female/male and did not mean to attest otherwise. Mike, I really appreciate your comments about gender inequality in publishing. I'd also like to point out that in terms of aesthetics, it is problematic to categorize and/or distinguish female and male writers aesthetic sensibilities. Women writers are devalued because they are women, not because their work is different/lesser than/other etc. from male writers. Or rather, there is a belief that because they are women, their work is therefore x, y, and z and therefore not as good.  
I appreciate the thoughtful and engaging comments here.

Marcelle


From: Amber Sparks <anoell...@gmail.com>
To: litma...@googlegroups.com
Sent: Sun, October 31, 2010 12:35:04 PM

Patricia Lockwood

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Oct 31, 2010, 4:41:43 PM10/31/10
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Here's the thing about Lady Tyrant, though--putting together an all-woman issue at some point in the past doesn't exempt you from including women in the future. It's almost weirder to me that a magazine would do an all-woman issue and then move on to other issues where the gender balance is so insanely skewed--3 out of 31 is really, really not a good balance-- it almost seems like throwing a sop to these concerns and not actually addressing them. 

I enjoyed the content a great deal, but like Mike, there was a strong awareness of this problem in the back of my mind as I read. It just seems like it shouldn't be happening anymore, especially not in our most cutting-edge litmags.

--- On Sun, 10/31/10, Marcelle Heath <marcel...@yahoo.com> wrote:

Bonnie ZoBell

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Oct 31, 2010, 4:56:35 PM10/31/10
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I’ll stick my neck out and say that I think 31 men writers and 3 women writers seems pretty out of balance. Unless the intended audience is men, but I don’t see any sign of that. I enjoyed reading the issue, but also thought the works were very male oriented, but I like male-oriented fiction, too.

 

Some of you seem to know who the editors are there, but I don’t, and I couldn’t find a masthead when I looked. I also couldn’t find anything out about this when I poked around on the internet, except this, which might indicate all the editors are male:  http://www.amazon.com/New-York-Tyrant-Vol-No/dp/B001K8RJVY  Unless I’m reading it wrong.

 

Some female editors on board might lead to at least some of the editors having a more female sensibility, though I would hope that both male and female readers and writers are open to both sensibilities.

 

Like Patricia, I feel like a “Lady Tyrant” isn’t really solving the problem but implies female writers can’t fit into the magazine on their own.

 

Well, it’s a great magazine and I enjoyed reading it. This one thing did bother me as I was reading it, though.

Owen Kaelin

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Oct 31, 2010, 5:08:30 PM10/31/10
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With the readership -> submitting pool corollary thing, I was sort of trying to simplify things by assuming that the percentage of female readers who submit and the percentage of male readers who submit would be approximately equal. If women are less likely to submit overall than men are, then that can explain a lot. Lots of people like to quote statistics suggesting that women read more than men . . . not that this gives me any idea of how many women vs. men read NYTyrant... . I've never been a fan of statistics, anyhow.

Honestly, though, I've never been comfortable with blanket characterizations of men or women . . . these statements are neither helpful nor fair; too often they aren't accurate at all. Humanity is just too complicated. In the end, I think I prefer to concentrate on the words rather than the name, all problems considered. Full disclosure: Gone Lawn comes out tomorrow with 4 women & 9 men, not including the presentation art (by the excellent Tantra Bensko)... I noticed this only rather late in the process, at which point I'd chosen only 2 women while all the rest were men... and it really bothered me; it still bothers me. I haven't analyzed how many women have submitted vs. how many men have submitted. In the end, while hoping I could find more women to lessen the disparity, my allegiance was to the voices, not the names. I had made a couple of concessions to voices I was less enamored with but still wanted to share because I thought them interesting, but I didn't want to make concessions based on gender. I do not think that this was a poor decision, because the editor's first responsibility, I feel, is to the presentation.

I know that if I wanted to I could also make an argument that an editor's responsibility -- in putting out a public work -- is to the readership. But... I'm one of those people who believes in sticking to one's aesthetic, hoping that an audience will follow. I've never believed that art should court an audience. I know that this does not address the problem of disparity, but . . . in addressing that problem, are we not affecting the work and a perhaps comparatively problematic way?

I guess I'll leave it at that before I've thought this through enough to actually make more sense . . . or something.

One last thing: I agree with Bonnie on the male+female masthead scenario . . . not the case here, unfortunately. Well, you know... I did ask... sigh... .

Oh: truly-last thing. The only way to reasonably address this problem, if you're running at radically tilted ratio in favor of male writers, is to solicit female writers you like. That's actually why GL's first issue is majority female, not that the female-skew was deliberate. I didn't do that for this one.

Bonnie ZoBell

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Oct 31, 2010, 5:31:11 PM10/31/10
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Owen,

 

I didn’t realize you were an editor there. Shows how out of the loop I am.

 

I did want to say that I especially liked Bradford Tice’s “How to Become an American Boy.” I really wanted to write a rebuttal to the long review it received early on HTML Giant, but then the weekend was over. The only time I have to write this sort of thing is on the weekend because of a heavy teaching load.

 

Anyway, I thought the story was beautiful and moving and I loved the dry humor. I’m open to second-person, though I don’t always think it works in something this long. I thought this worked, though. I loved the voice and what the narrator had to tell us. Really liked lots of the other stories, too.

 

I’m trying to figure this all out more. I’m not even sure if this is where we’re supposed to write notes about works, but I’ll get on it faster next time.

 

Thanks for making NY Tyrant available for this. Are you the person that mentioned we could buy them at Faras Bookstore on 30th, or was that somebody else. You’re probably in NY.

 

Best,

Bonnie

Robb Todd

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Oct 31, 2010, 5:59:38 PM10/31/10
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I agree with Matt. I can't really add to what he said, so that is all. Thank you for your time.

Christian Lorentzen

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Oct 31, 2010, 6:37:18 PM10/31/10
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I suggest the imposition on our national literature of the following rules and penalties.

1. Every issue of every American lit mag should have an even number of contributions, half of which should be written by males the other half by females.

2. At the completion of every issue, the number of male-written words and female-written words should be totalled up. The difference between the to totals should be determined, and then whatever gender-written words are overrepresented should be cut accordingly such that there are an equal number of male- and female-written words.

3. Every issue should have an equal number of male and female characters in its stories and poems. Any imbalance can simply be fixed by changing certain characters' genders.

4. To ensure that a piece of writing isn't secretly hypermale or hyperfemale, all stories and poems should be translated into Latin and the genders of all the resultant nouns should be quantified. Any story or poem whose words are more than 40% masculine, feminine, or neuter should never be published.

5. Any publication that violates the above rules should have its funding seized and redistributed to other litmags that abide by them.

6. All editors should undergo annual gender reassignment procedures, so that like Tiresias, they know how feels both ways around.

Xian

Mike Meginnis

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Oct 31, 2010, 6:42:34 PM10/31/10
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Dude, seriously?

James McGirk

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Oct 31, 2010, 6:44:20 PM10/31/10
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Of course, this is standard practice at MFA programs nationwide.

Roxane Gay

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Oct 31, 2010, 6:44:55 PM10/31/10
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I find it fascinating that whenever gender imbalance in publishing is raised as a concern, there is a response of defensiveness or a defense of aesthetic is launched or there is mocking and derision. I think that the gender imbalance of this issue of NY Tyrant, (3/31 is an imbalance no matter how you look at it) is an important topic for discussion. It has nothing to do with the outstanding quality of the magazine. It is not a negative statement about Tyrant's outstanding editor. It's an observation. How did this happen? Why does this continue to happen in so many magazines? 
--
Roxane Gay :: http://www.roxanegay.com
Co-Editor, PANK :: http://www.pankmagazine.com
http://www.indiepublishingwiki.com

Joseph Riippi

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Oct 31, 2010, 6:54:06 PM10/31/10
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Following Robb's lead, I am going to go ahead and just second what Roxane said. 

Robb Todd

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Oct 31, 2010, 7:05:19 PM10/31/10
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If the imbalance is that important, how can you say the quality of the magazine is outstanding? Just asking, not trying to be defensive of derisive, although I guess I also wonder why someone can't disagree on this topic without being lumped into some category that seems dismissive of their opinion. What's wrong with a defense of aesthetic? Sure, Xian was mocking but he is making a point, too. Can't we be inclusive of the way other people express themselves? Again, I'm not trying to be a dick (that's not something I have to try to do), I just wonder how, exactly, we are allowed to disagree.

Roxane Gay

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Oct 31, 2010, 7:19:21 PM10/31/10
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I absolutely think people can disagree about this topic. I look at what Matt said, for example, and disagree about some parts of what he said but still respect his comments, and absolutely understand where they are coming from, particularly being an editor myself. It's nearly impossible to edit for balance. I wouldn't even try to do something like that.  My comment wasn't intended to shut down disagreement but it seems a little offensive to immediately go to the extreme that Christian went to. Maybe that's just me. I've also noticed that there are three general brands of response to this topic and I was speaking more to that than anything else. 

I do think the quality of the magazine is outstanding. I didn't love everything but man, so many stories just blew my head open. I didn't think about the gender imbalance while reading, but when I was done, I happened to be looking at the TOC and  I did notice there were only three women writers and I wondered why that was the case. I guess I wonder why everyone isn't concerned about such things but that isn't the same as saying other perspectives aren't as valid as mine or that this is about ignoring disagreement.  

Mandy Boles

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Oct 31, 2010, 7:40:18 PM10/31/10
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I've enjoyed reading the back and forth on this issue all day. But...I enjoyed Tyrant8 and probably would not have given the gender issue a second thought if not for this discussion.

Sent from my iPhone

Marcelle Heath

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Oct 31, 2010, 7:42:24 PM10/31/10
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I agree with Roxane here - why is there so much defensiveness when this topic is raised? Gender inequity exists. It's a fact, not a theory, not an idea. Women are devalued, either overtly through sexism and misogyny or covertly through silencing and absence. Editors can or cannot be concerned or invested in the project of inclusion. Be true to your vision - absolutely - but also understand your privilege and the rights that come along with that privilege as well as its cost.



From: Roxane Gay <rga...@gmail.com>
To: litma...@googlegroups.com
Sent: Sun, October 31, 2010 4:19:21 PM

Robb Todd

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Oct 31, 2010, 7:42:40 PM10/31/10
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I would love to hear what Gian has to say about this when he does his interview/chat/whatever-it-is. I guess the reason the imbalance in this issue doesn't really get my hair up is because I don't think Gian would ever exclude someone based on gender. If I did think that, I wouldn't read the magazine.

I just want to read writing I like and that's it, and if the ratio was reversed and I liked the issue as much, I wouldn't care. Also, so many of my favorite writers who happen to be women don't seem to have much trouble getting published, people like xTx and Doc Rox, for example. (Yes, I know what the title of your blog is.) I have never heard xTx tell me that she feels discriminated against. Or am I wrong about this? Do you think you have ever been rejected by a magazine because you are a woman? See, that would piss me off quite bit.

Roxane Gay

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:00:14 PM10/31/10
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I actually don't feel like my gender (or any other aspect of who I am) is an issue where my writing career is concerned. In fact, I would go so far as to say I know my gender is not an issue in terms of my success (relatively speaking) as a writer. When my writing is rejected, I know it isn't the right story for a given market for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with gender. Only once have I ever felt like a story was rejected because I'm a woman and well, shit happens. I know not to send my work to that magazine anymore. I care about this issue because I believe I'm one of the lucky ones, and an exception to the rule. I also think that a lot of my writing is aesthetically such that it can find placement in magazines that are traditionally skewed toward male writers. I do think many women are excluded because of the style or tone of their writing and that's why this subject keeps coming up.

We can definitely ask GIan about this during the chat which will be happening on Wednesday. I'll be sending a note about this on Monday, which is tomorrow.

Robb Todd

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:06:38 PM10/31/10
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So, my last question before I try to do something Halloween-ish outside in the cool fall air. You said that you think women are excluded "because of the style or tone of their writing." Is that the same thing as gender discrimination? And are we only talking about unpaid placements in lit mags or are we talking about publishing (paid + not paid) in general?

Robb Todd

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:06:56 PM10/31/10
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(I guess that was two questions, sorry.)

Christian Lorentzen

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:11:44 PM10/31/10
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Well, by going to an extreme I didn't mean to offend anyone, I just meant to be funny. (I thought my jokes about the gender of nouns in Latin and Tiresias were original, but a lot of people think I have a bad sense of humor; the other day a guy on Twitter said he wanted me to die in a fire.) The thing about this debate is that it is nonliterary. That is, once you start talking about gender balances you're no longer in the special subjective realm of prose and poetry but in the objective quantifiable realm of institutional politics (even if that institution constitutes one guy named Gian [a great guy, btw]). Thus you might as well be talking about how many male and doctors work at the hospital down the road. I pretty much think most of what might be interesting to be said about this stuff was said in Juliana Spahr's "Numbers Trouble" a few years back. As for why "mocking and derision" entered the conversation, that pretty much happens whenever I open my mouth, which is usually why I try to keep it shut. So now shut it I will. I'm sorry if I hurt anybody's feelings.

Xian

dave housley

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:14:23 PM10/31/10
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I think part of this might have something to do with the process. I don't know how they do it at NYT, but at Barrelhouse, we read submissions on a rolling basis and rely heavily on slush (we rarely solicit for the print magazine). We have five fiction editors and we're spread out all over, so we read and do a lot of discussion via email. When something is a clear accept or a clear reject, then the process is fairly easy and fast. When something is in that gray area -- where a maybe somebody loves it and somebody hates it and it's going to require some serious discussion, then we try to save those for one of our semi-regular in-person meetings. So one of the side effects of the way we do things -- and again, I don't know how they do it at NYT -- is that the table of contents is something is developing in little herky jerky movements over a pretty long period of time. It's very much NOT like editing an anthology, where we have all the possible elements in front of us and we have a big picture view of the whole, or what the whole could be, from the get-go. We're assembling on the fly, and obviously an author's sex/race/whatever isn't something that's taken into account in that process, so in a lot of cases we may not even know if we have a situation until pretty close to production. If we got there and looked at the table of contents and saw a serious imbalance (last issue was 18 men, 12 women), then we'd have to figure out what to do. Do we then go out and solicit some women? Only read stuff from women for awhile? I'm not sure what we'd do other than try to keep an eye on what we're accepting and try not to get ourselves in that situation. 

wick...@aol.com

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:16:43 PM10/31/10
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I guest edited two issues of Colored Chalk, here was my breakdown, and I DID solicit a couple people, both men and women:

#6: 16 total, all men, theme was Waking Up Strange
#9: 15 total, 7 women, 8 men, theme was Heaven/Hell

You can't control who submits, and I knew that #6 was a heavier noir-ish theme, so it would get more men, am surprised even now that it was all men. I think that was partly because it was my first guest edit with them, and most of my writer buddies are male. And don't think that because #9 was heaven/hell that I got all of these light, ethereal stories from the women, far from it.

I think that some themes, if you do themed issues, can appeal to men over women, and a magazine can have a certain aesthetic that appeals to more men or women. Can anybody else toss up some recent numbers? I don't have any hard numbers but I'd guess that maybe the total number of people submitting in general is a tad bit more men than women (maybe 60/40?).

I can honestly say that I welcomed the female voices, and even wanted more from women, to the point of nudging or soliciting. I tend to write and edit for darker fiction, but in the last couple of years have seen a lot more women writing dark fiction, which is awesome.

Thoughts?

Mandy Boles

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:20:13 PM10/31/10
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I thought it was funny, but I'm an ass.
--
Mandy Boles | WellReadWife.com | wellre...@gmail.com | Twitter: @wellreadwife
Mailing Address: The Well-Read Wife, 45 Hardy Court #231, Gulfport, MS 39507

Christian Lorentzen

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:23:46 PM10/31/10
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I'm opening my mouth one more time because I have a question. This a response to something Dave said about Barrelhouse.

I am not a lit mag editor (I work at a newspaper), but I pay attention to the lit mag world and have previously worked on lit-ish projects, and it always strikes me as daylight madness when I hear that editors rely mostly on their slush file for submissions. Are your slush piles that amazing? Why not go out and survey the scene of everything that's going on out there and then go after the writers you admire, hassle them, and get their stuff in your mag?

Xian

Roxane Gay

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:25:23 PM10/31/10
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You're a two question asker! I do think its gender discrimination because so often what women write is referred to as "women's writing," while the phrase "men's writing" simply does not exist. I think this is an issue in all areas of publishing but it manifests in different ways in indie publishing versus mainstream publishing. 

Roxane Gay

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:30:30 PM10/31/10
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Christian, we draw 99% of our work at PANK from unsolicited submissions. The submission queue is truly that amazing. The reality is that there are lots and lots of writers in the world. There are plenty of bad writers and the submission queue reflects that but there are also many great writers. We say no to lots of wonderful stuff because we simply cannot publish everything. Some magazines might go out and survey what's going on and pick and choose by solicitation but we have neither the time nor the inclination to do so, and we don't need to either. Because there are so many great writers, I don't think any magazine is hard up for excellent writing. I personally look forward to seeing what comes across the transom next. I also don't want to be limited by what I know and who I can find. I want to be surprised by people I've never heard of. 

dave housley

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:37:32 PM10/31/10
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We really do rely on the slush that much at Barrelhouse. I'm looking at the TOC from our last issue and I think there were only two pieces that came to us in ways other than slush -- one was something from a friend of one of the other editors, and another was an essay I had been badgering Tom Williams to write whenever we had a few beers together. I think the next issue, which we're laying out now, has two stories that came from various editors friends, and one other essay that I had been badgering Jilly Essbaum to write (when not badgering Tom Williams to write his). That's the fiction and nonfiction -- Dan Brady is our poetry editor and he manages that all on his own, so we don't even see poetry until Dan sends us the stuff he's accepted. Some of that might be solicited, but I'm not sure. 

We have solicited stuff in the past, and I do when I edit our online issues (actually solicited two people on this list -- and women to boot!). We don't do much of it, though, because I think we haven't really felt a need to do it. The slush pile has been pretty amazing. Also confounding, but it's been good to us. 

There's also the issue of there being so many of us, which means it's just harder for us to agree about what we publish. If I solicit something from Roxane, then in order for us to publish that piece, there are 4 other dudes who have to like it. I think they would, but I'd also feel like a tool if I had to go back to her and say, well, thanks for sending that along, and good luck placing your work elsewhere. If I was editing it myself (which is the case for the online issues -- we take turns), then I'd probably be more quick to solicit work and really lean on that as a way to build up an issue. 

So I think the big takeaway from all that is that Barrelhouse is incredibly inefficient, but also very democratic. 

Alyson Berman

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:38:49 PM10/31/10
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While I loved the issue, I was also troubled by the lack of women writers. I find that it's a problem in nearly every lit mag I read. I really appreciate that it's being talked about here.

The skewed ratios certainly aren't limited to fiction. One just has to go to a museum or count the numbers in Congress to see that women are underrepresented in nearly every group. Talking about that fact brings attention to it. And hopefully that attention will make editors, readers and writers more aware and ask the hard questions.

I'm a woman and I'm even guilty. I've certainly read more books by men than by women. And the majority of those books have been by Caucasian American men. Knowing that fact and that most of the books I was assigned in school were by that group of people, I actively try and spread the love. Too often work by anyone other than that group (at least in this country) is put in its own little category. As Roxane noted, "women's writing" is an example.

I've never felt discriminated against as a woman when submitting my work, but it doesn't take a genius to look at the numbers and know that something is wrong. It starts with the books we are assigned in grade school and continues through college and grad programs and into the publishing world.

Alyson
--
www.alysonjane.com

Christian Lorentzen

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:48:29 PM10/31/10
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One more question. Do you think there's possibly an inverse relationship between a publications fame and the quality of its slush pile? For instance, The Atlantic Monthly probably gets submissions from anyone in America with a typewriter, so tons and tons of stories by middle-aged amateurs about their "struggle with depression" and roman a clefs by octogenarians about their World War II experiences, penned in retirement? Whereas smaller places are less well known but known by the readers and writers and slush submitters who are right for them. Does this make sense or does it sound like total bullshit?

Xian

lorian long

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Oct 31, 2010, 5:46:08 PM10/31/10
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what does 'male-oriented fiction' even mean?

maybe we could shift the discussion to the women in the works, cuz this issue is full of 'em: brutal mothers, dead wives, ladies with knives, erotic dancers, lots of blood. and girl, what violence. jesus. james o'brien kills it. 

- lorian

Clifford Garstang

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:20:13 PM10/31/10
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Has anyone looked at all the issues of NYT to see if this issue's imbalance is representative? If it isn't representative, is it really cause for concern?
 
 
 


From: litma...@googlegroups.com [mailto:litma...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Marcelle Heath
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2010 7:42 PM

Roxane Gay

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Oct 31, 2010, 8:59:05 PM10/31/10
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Christian, I definitely think that inverse relationship exists. At Prairie Schooner, which had a massive submission queue, most of the writing was just so not good. People would literally send in their diaries, scribbles on notebooks, dirty typewritten manuscripts. There was a lot of prison correspondence. It was pretty depressing. While we get a fair number of submissions per month (500-600), a good 60% of those submissions come from people who actively read PANK and have a good sense of what we love.

Kevin Lincoln

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Oct 31, 2010, 9:03:46 PM10/31/10
to litma...@googlegroups.com, Christian Lorentzen
Actually, Christian, I think you're probably onto something. I interned for A Public Space this summer, and that involved reading a whole mess of slush pretty regularly. For the most part, it was worthless, and a good number of the pieces I did enjoy came from authors who I happened to recognize. (You could say I was just biased, but you'll have to trust my saying that I wasn't.) Unfortunately, I only had a couple of those discovering-revelation type experiences all summer, despite the fact that what APS publishes is generally high-quality.�

Now the caveats: naturally, I trust Roxane's saying she does find gold in the slush, and PANK reflects that�clearly the slush is good if that's where they're getting what they publish, because what they publish is good. And I've never worked with a small magazine, really, so I can't speak to that. And I was an intern, which means I didn't have the access or perception of scope as an editor would. But it seems like the true new-and-naive, or the weekend warriors, probably submit mainly to the names in lights. I mean, just thinking from my experience of learning about the literary world, I knew the top names first and the smaller mags more as I was submersed; if you're never submersed, though, then you're options are limited when you're sending out your tales of marital infidelity and, well, pre-marital infidelity, and precocious child narrators so on so forth.

On 10/31/10 8:48 PM, Christian Lorentzen wrote:
One more question. Do you think there's possibly an inverse relationship between a publications fame and the quality of its slush pile? For instance, The Atlantic Monthly probably gets submissions from anyone in America with a typewriter, so tons and tons of stories by middle-aged amateurs about their "struggle with depression" and roman a clefs by octogenarians about their World War II experiences, penned in retirement? Whereas smaller places are less well known but known by the readers and writers and slush submitters who are right for them. Does this make sense or does it sound like total bullshit?

Xian

On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 8:38 PM, Alyson Berman <abe...@gm.slc.edu> wrote:
While I loved the issue, I was also troubled by the lack of women writers. I find that it's a problem in nearly every lit mag I read. I really appreciate that it's being talked about here.

The skewed ratios certainly aren't limited to fiction. One just has to go to a museum or count the numbers in Congress to see that women are underrepresented in nearly every group. Talking about that fact brings attention to it. And hopefully that attention will make editors, readers and writers more aware and ask the hard questions.

I'm a woman and I'm even guilty. I've certainly read more books by men than by women. And the majority of those books have been by Caucasian American men. Knowing that fact and that most of the books I was assigned in school were by that group of people, I actively try and spread the love. Too often work by anyone other than that group (at least in this country) is put in its own little category. As Roxane noted, "women's writing" is an example.

I've never felt discriminated against as a woman when submitting my work, but it doesn't take a genius to look at the numbers and know that something is wrong. It starts with the books we are assigned in grade school and continues through college and grad programs and into the publishing world.

Alyson


�

On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 8:00 PM, Roxane Gay <rga...@gmail.com> wrote:
I actually don't feel like my gender (or any other aspect of who I am) is an issue where my writing career is concerned. In fact, I would go so far as to say I know my gender is not an issue in terms of my success (relatively speaking) as a writer. When my writing is rejected, I know it isn't the right story for a given market for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with gender. Only once have I ever felt like a story was rejected because I'm a woman and well, shit happens. I know not to send my work to that magazine anymore. I care about this issue because I believe I'm one of the lucky ones, and an exception to the rule. I also think that a lot of my writing is aesthetically such that it can find placement in magazines that are traditionally skewed toward male writers. I do think many women are excluded because of the style or tone of their writing and that's why this subject keeps coming up.

We can definitely ask GIan about this during the chat which will be happening on Wednesday. I'll be sending a note about this on Monday, which is tomorrow.
On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 6:42 PM, Robb Todd <ro...@robbtodd.com> wrote:
I would love to hear what Gian has to say about this when he does his interview/chat/whatever-it-is. I guess the reason the imbalance in this issue doesn't really get my hair up is because I don't think Gian would ever exclude someone based on gender. If I did think that, I wouldn't read the magazine.

I just want to read writing I like and that's it, and if the ratio was reversed and I liked the issue as much, I wouldn't care. Also, so many of my favorite writers who happen to be women don't seem to have much trouble getting published, people like xTx and Doc Rox, for example. (Yes, I know what the title of your blog is.) I have never heard xTx tell me that she feels discriminated against. Or am I wrong about this? Do you think you have ever been rejected by a magazine because you are a woman? See, that would piss me off quite bit.
On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 7:19 PM, Roxane Gay <rga...@gmail.com> wrote:
I absolutely think people can disagree about this topic. I look at what Matt said, for example, and disagree about some parts of what he said but still respect his comments, and absolutely understand where they are coming from, particularly being an editor myself. It's nearly impossible to edit for balance. I wouldn't even try to do something like that. �My comment wasn't intended to shut down disagreement but it seems a little offensive to immediately go to the extreme that Christian went to. Maybe that's just me. I've also noticed that there are three general brands of response to this topic and I was speaking more to that than anything else.�

I do think the quality of the magazine is outstanding. I didn't love everything but man, so many stories just blew my head open. I didn't think about the gender imbalance while reading, but when I was done, I happened to be looking at the TOC and �I did notice there were only three women writers and I wondered why that was the case. I guess I wonder why everyone isn't concerned about such things but that isn't the same as saying other perspectives aren't as valid as mine or that this is about ignoring disagreement. �


On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 6:05 PM, Robb Todd <ro...@robbtodd.com> wrote:
If the imbalance is that important, how can you say the quality of the magazine is outstanding? Just asking, not trying to be defensive of derisive, although I guess I also wonder why someone can't disagree on this topic without being lumped into some category that seems dismissive of their opinion. What's wrong with a defense of aesthetic? Sure, Xian was mocking but he is making a point, too. Can't we be inclusive of the way other people express themselves? Again, I'm not trying to be a dick (that's not something I have to try to do), I just wonder how, exactly, we are allowed to disagree.
On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 6:44 PM, Roxane Gay <rga...@gmail.com> wrote:
I find it fascinating that whenever gender imbalance in publishing is raised as a concern, there is a response of defensiveness or a defense of aesthetic is launched or there is mocking and derision. I think that the gender imbalance of this issue of NY Tyrant, (3/31 is an imbalance no matter how you look at it) is an important topic for discussion. It has nothing to do with the outstanding quality of the magazine. It is not a negative statement about Tyrant's outstanding editor. It's an observation. How did this happen? Why does this continue to happen in so many magazines?�

On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 5:37 PM, Christian Lorentzen <clore...@gmail.com> wrote:
I suggest the imposition on our national literature of the following rules and penalties.

1. Every issue of every American lit mag should have an even number of contributions, half of which should be written by males the other half by females.

2. At the completion of every issue, the number of male-written words and female-written words should be totalled up. The difference between the to totals should be determined, and then whatever gender-written words are overrepresented should be cut accordingly such that there are an equal number of male- and female-written words.

3. Every issue should have an equal number of male and female characters in its stories and poems. Any imbalance can simply be fixed by changing certain characters' genders.

4. To ensure that a piece of writing isn't secretly hypermale or hyperfemale, all stories and poems should be translated into Latin and the genders of all the resultant nouns should be quantified. Any story or poem whose words are more than 40% masculine, feminine, or neuter should never be published.

5. Any publication that violates the above rules should have its funding seized and redistributed to other litmags that abide by them.

6. All editors should undergo annual gender reassignment procedures, so that like Tiresias, they know how feels both ways around.

Xian


5:31 PM, Bonnie ZoBell <bzob...@gmail.com> wrote:

Owen,

�

I didn�t realize you were an editor there. Shows how out of the loop I am.

�

I did want to say that I especially liked Bradford Tice�s �How to Become an American Boy.� I really wanted to write a rebuttal to the long review it received early on HTML Giant, but then the weekend was over. The only time I have to write this sort of thing is on the weekend because of a heavy teaching load.

�

Anyway, I thought the story was beautiful and moving and I loved the dry humor. I�m open to second-person, though I don�t always think it works in something this long. I thought this worked, though. I loved the voice and what the narrator had to tell us. Really liked lots of the other stories, too.

�

I�m trying to figure this all out more. I�m not even sure if this is where we�re supposed to write notes about works, but I�ll get on it faster next time.

�

Thanks for making NY Tyrant available for this. Are you the person that mentioned we could buy them at Faras Bookstore on 30th, or was that somebody else. You�re probably in NY.

�

Best,

Bonnie

�

From: litma...@googlegroups.com [mailto:litma...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Owen Kaelin
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2010 2:08 PM


To: litma...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [LMC] New York Tyrant

�

With the readership -> submitting pool corollary thing, I was sort of trying to simplify things by assuming that the percentage of female readers who submit and the percentage of male readers who submit would be approximately equal. If women are less likely to submit overall than men are, then that can explain a lot. Lots of people like to quote statistics suggesting that women read more than men . . . not that this gives me any idea of how many women vs. men read NYTyrant... . I've never been a fan of statistics, anyhow.

Honestly, though, I've never been comfortable with blanket characterizations of men or women . . . these statements are neither helpful nor fair; too often they aren't accurate at all. Humanity is just too complicated. In the end, I think I prefer to concentrate on the words rather than the name, all problems considered. Full disclosure: Gone Lawn comes out tomorrow with 4 women & 9 men, not including the presentation art (by the excellent Tantra Bensko)... I noticed this only rather late in the process, at which point I'd chosen only 2 women while all the rest were men... and it really bothered me; it still bothers me. I haven't analyzed how many women have submitted vs. how many men have submitted. In the end, while hoping I could find more women to lessen the disparity, my allegiance was to the voices, not the names. I had made a couple of concessions to voices I was less enamored with but still wanted to share because I thought them interesting, but I didn't want to make concessions based on gender. I do not think that this was a poor decision, because the editor's first responsibility, I feel, is to the presentation.

I know that if I wanted to I could also make an argument that an editor's responsibility -- in putting out a public work -- is to the readership. But... I'm one of those people who believes in sticking to one's aesthetic, hoping that an audience will follow. I've never believed that art should court an audience. I know that this does not address the problem of disparity, but . . . in addressing that problem, are we not affecting the work and a perhaps comparatively problematic way?

I guess I'll leave it at that before I've thought this through enough to actually make more sense . . . or something.

One last thing: I agree with Bonnie on the male+female masthead scenario . . . not the case here, unfortunately. Well, you know... I did ask... sigh... .

Oh: truly-last thing. The only way to reasonably address this problem, if you're running at radically tilted ratio in favor of male writers, is to solicit female writers you like. That's actually why GL's first issue is majority female, not that the female-skew was deliberate. I didn't do that for this one.

On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 4:56 PM, Bonnie ZoBell <bzob...@gmail.com> wrote:

I�ll stick my neck out and say that I think 31 men writers and 3 women writers seems pretty out of balance. Unless the intended audience is men, but I don�t see any sign of that. I enjoyed reading the issue, but also thought the works were very male oriented, but I like male-oriented fiction, too.

�

Some of you seem to know who the editors are there, but I don�t, and I couldn�t find a masthead when I looked. I also couldn�t find anything out about this when I poked around on the internet, except this, which might indicate all the editors are male:� http://www.amazon.com/New-York-Tyrant-Vol-No/dp/B001K8RJVY� Unless I�m reading it wrong.

�

Some female editors on board might lead to at least some of the editors having a more female sensibility, though I would hope that both male and female readers and writers are open to both sensibilities.

�

Like Patricia, I feel like a �Lady Tyrant� isn�t really solving the problem but implies female writers can�t fit into the magazine on their own.

�

Well, it�s a great magazine and I enjoyed reading it. This one thing did bother me as I was reading it, though.

�

�

�

From: litma...@googlegroups.com [mailto:litma...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Patricia Lockwood
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2010 1:42 PM
To: litma...@googlegroups.com


Subject: Re: [LMC] New York Tyrant

�

Here's the thing about�Lady Tyrant, though--putting together an all-woman issue at some point in the past doesn't exempt you from including women in the future. It's almost weirder to me that a magazine would do an all-woman issue and then move on to other issues where the gender balance is so insanely skewed--3 out of 31 is really, really not a good balance-- it almost seems like throwing a sop to these concerns and not actually addressing them.�

�

I enjoyed the content a great deal, but like Mike, there was a strong awareness of this problem in the back of my mind as I read. It just seems like it shouldn't be happening anymore, especially not in our most cutting-edge litmags.


--- On Sun, 10/31/10, Marcelle Heath <marcel...@yahoo.com> wrote:


From: Marcelle Heath <marcel...@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [LMC] New York Tyrant
To: litma...@googlegroups.com
Date: Sunday, October 31, 2010, 3:49 PM

I agree with Amber here about the number of women submitting vs men (It's highly likely women feel daunted by the landscape) and with many points everyone has made - Matt, I completely concur that gender is much more complicated than female/male and did not mean to attest otherwise. Mike, I really appreciate your comments about gender inequality in publishing. I'd also like to point out that in terms of aesthetics, it is problematic to categorize and/or distinguish female and male writers aesthetic sensibilities. Women writers are devalued because they are women, not because their work is different/lesser than/other etc. from male writers. Or rather, there is a belief that because they are women, their work is therefore x, y, and z and therefore not as good.��

I appreciate the thoughtful and engaging comments here.

Marcelle

�


From: Amber Sparks <anoell...@gmail.com>
To: litma...@googlegroups.com
Sent: Sun, October 31, 2010 12:35:04 PM
Subject: Re: [LMC] New York Tyrant

I wouldn't say, though, that submissions reflect the readership, necessarily. Just because you read a magazine doesn't mean you'll submit to it, too. I mean, realistically I understand that a lot of the people who read any given lit mag are probably its submitters, too--but there are certainly a lot of people that read lit mags but never submit, may not even be writers or don't think that particular mag fits their asthetic. (For example: I love NOON--it's one of my favorite magazines and I buy it every year--but I'd never submit because I know my style is one hundred percent wrong for them.) Also, for many, many reasons, I suspect but can't prove that women submit a lot less than men do in general, not just to certain mags. I think that's the larger problem, really--much larger than any ideas I have about how to fix such things.