Lots o’ talk in e-world re: VIDA article on gender disparity in various aspects of the publishing industry. As a general rule, I agree that women are underrepresented. More so, I believe women of color are underrepresented in the publishing industry. Much has to do with falling through the cracks, or being compelled to choose between alliances: of color or woman?
I’ve already written my essay, “On Feminism, Women of Color, Poetics, and Reticence,” which is now published in two places: XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics 20, and A Megaphone (Chain Arts). And still, after speaking my piece, I never really feel like people listen, nor do I feel any sense of progression. Still the same issues of reticence come up, and a resignation to invisibility. I can’t say enough that we need to be more actively engaged, more assertive in the arenas of publishing and reviewing. That we need to exercise our professionalism and go get those things we as writers should be committed to getting: book contracts, reading/speaking/performance gigs, this is nothing new to report.
Fact is, I’m constantly blind sided by claims that the behavior I describe above is aggressive, intimidating. That’s the social strangeness I’ve been growing accustomed to dealing with; because I am constantly in “work” mode, I am too aggressive and intimidating. I’m just starting to get disheartened, that all of the community work I’m trying to do amounts to shite, because I’ll always be perceived as too aggressive, intimidating, and hence, far from the norm.
Fellow working woman of color author and workhorse Tara Betts recently tweeted, “It might help if women went to venues together & discussed working strategies more than shoes, even though I like shoes.” I totally get this. Why do we veer towards these “shoes” conversations, let these conversations dominate our time together, avoid the industry talk, then lament the lack of woman representation in publishing? What is this behavior about? What magic do we think is going to make racial and gender equality, especially for women of color, in publishing happen? In other words, I’d love to have a discussion about how we women of color are complicit in maintaining the disparity, and a tough, nitty-gritty discussion about how to support one another, hold one another accountable, and what to do to address, counter, reject that complicity.