The following letter by Anne Hays was published on Facebook on January 2nd 2011, and since it is a day for correspondences , I thought to link it herein. Thus far the letter has had 31 likes, numerous replies, and is linked onto Twitter via VIDA, women in the literary arts.
January 2nd, 2011
The New Yorker
4 Times Square, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Dear Editors of the New Yorker,
“I am writing to express my alarm that this is now the second issue of the NYer in a row where only two (tiny) pieces out of your 76 page magazine are written by women. The January 3rd, 2011 issue features only a Shouts & Murmurs (Patricia Marx) and a poem (Kimberly Johnson). Every other major piece—the fiction, the profile, and all the main nonfiction pieces—is written by a man. Every single critic is a male writer.
We were already alarmed when we flipped through the Dec 20th & 27th double-issue to find that only one piece (Nancy Franklin) and one poem (Alicia Ostriker) were written by women. A friend pointed out that Jane Kramer wrote one of the short Talk of the Town segments as well, though it barely placated our sense of outrage that one extra page, totaling three, out of the 148 pages in the magazine, were penned by women. Again, every critic is a man. To make matters more depressing, 22 out of the 23 illustrators for the magazine are men. Seriously!
Women are not actually a minority group, nor is there a shortage, in the world, of female writers. The publishing industry is replete with female editors, and it would be too obvious for me to point out to you that the New Yorker masthead has a fair number of female editors in its ranks. And so we are baffled, outraged, saddened, and a bit depressed that, though some would claim our country’s sexism problem ended in the late 60’s, the most prominent and respected literary magazine in the country can’t find space in its pages for women’s voices in the year 2011.
I have enclosed the January issue and expect a refund. You may either extend our subscription by one month, or you can replace this issue with a back issue containing a more equitable ratio of male to female voices. I plan to return every issue that contains fewer than five women writers. You tend to publish 13 to 15 writers in each issue; 5 women shouldn’t be that hard.”
A dismayed reader,
One aspect of the 2011 reviews in literature, in the literary Arts was the absence of women from both the editorial panels which chose (overwhelmingly) writing by male authors, there were profound absences particularly in the US , of women, black and Hispanic authors. I shall add in a selection of Books of 2010 lists at the base of this link.
In fact heres Jezebel Magazine’s analysis of the New Yorker Debacle: