Female authors hit back at gender bias

Have female authors been getting the short end of the stick? The gender issue has always been a spark plug waiting to ignite something, and as in just about every other field of enterprise, there are plenty of gender-related explosive somethings waiting to get ignited in the world of literature.

Gender bias here seems to afflict everyone involved: writers and readers; publishing houses; sales outlets; book prize panels and juries; organizers of and speakers at workshops and seminars; the media, social and anti-social, whether printed, oral or boob tube.

There is a distinct pro-male author bias in books submitted for prizes like the Booker. There is a distinct pro-male author and pro-male protagonist bias in books that win these prizes. It ain’t Man Booker for nothing.

Even books on animals are not spared. Going by the title, don’t you think it is reasonable to expect Black Beauty to be all about a mare? Peter Rabbit, Marley the dog… all male. Where females are featured, they are arguably stereotypical sexist, as in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Animal books that went classic? Almost all male, as in Moby Dick.

Any “Best Hundred Books of All Time” list? About ninety-five names will feature male authors and male protagonists, human or otherwise.

Literary publications give more space to male authors and their works. When asked to recommend books, male authors tend to name works by male authors.

all male authors at library

all male authors at library

You have to accept the truth that there is great discrimination against lady authors, whether they are female authors fiction or female authors fantasy.

Based on a representative sample, I researched global readership trends and concluded that global readers are also pro-male in terms of author and protagonist preferences. I am the representative sample. Of every ten books I read, probably seven have male authors and protagonists. I am not sure why, but I don’t think it is a conscious choice. A long time ago, Enid Blyton was one of my favorite authors, and some years later, so was Agatha Christie. I have huge respect for Ayn Rand. Gone with the Wind, a female author’s book about a female protagonist, is one of my all-time favorite books. So is Alice in Wonderland, though the author was male. Somewhere along the way I got corrupted and developed this bias.

(There. I feel better for having made a clean breast of that.)

Sooner or later, we were bound to get to the straw that broke the cow’s back. (No, that is not a mistake, a female camel is called a cow; all our lives, we have been misled by misogynic books like the Bible, the Koran and The Arabian Nights. They are full of bull.)

We have got to that straw now. People want 2018 to be a year when only books by female authors are published. Lady authors, all lady authors, and nothing but lady authors, so help me goddess.

Not a bad idea, and may I make some suggestions, just to be sure all bases are covered?

In 2018, authors should use only female cover designers, female editors, female proofreaders, female reviewers and female ARC readers. They should give their manuscripts to only those publishing houses that have all-female ownership and staff. They should make sure their books are sold only at bookstores owned and run by females.

As far as the digital versions are concerned, they should avoid male-dominated online retail sites like Amazon. They should set up their own site.

And they should think of some way to make sure only female readers read their books. That’s right, lady authors should ensure that no matter how much male readers bust their nuts, but they are not going to get to read any books published in 2018 until that year is done with and laid to rest. Of course, that also means no male ARC readers and reviewers.

I mean, with something this momentous, you don’t want a half-assed job, right?

There are other issues the bevy of 2018-for-lady-authors-only babes will have to consider.

What happens if Chelsea Manning pens some exposés of his days as Bradley Manning and wants to publish them in 2018? Will she get published or does he get the bum’s rush?

And what price Caitlyn Jenner? What if she writes an entire library section of bare-it-all books on his days as Bruce Jenner with his kinky klan and gets ready to put it out in 2018? Does she get to publish that year, or does he get the shaft?

You need to make sure male authors do not get away with their sneaky efforts to get published under female pseudonyms. I mean, you would want to establish the bona fides of this author who calls herself Nella Gaiwoman, wouldn’t you? And what would you say to Pauline Coelhova?

And here is another poser. What happens with authors who declare themselves to belong to the “others” sex category in their profiles?

It would be nice to get to the naked truth as soon as possible, but not later than the end of 2018.

2018 - female authors' year

2018 – female authors’ year

In the meantime, let’s put everything we have to make sure this whole new ball game, 2018: The Exclusive Year of Female Authors, hits the ground running. Care to join me in a toast to 2018?

Bottoms up!

Female authors hit back at gender bias

by Venkatesh Iyer time to read: 4 min
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