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Sexism in the Publishing Industry

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Paul Whybrow

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This article was in today's Daily Telegraph : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/...-publishing-industry-in-string-of-tweets.html

Joanna Harris has spoken out on sexism in writing and the publishing industry before, and rightly so. This is from her Wikipedia entry :

Some of Harris's recurrent themes are: issues of identity; mother/child relationships; the emotional resonance of food; the magic and horror of everyday things; the outsider in the community; faith and superstition; the joy of small pleasures. She has spoken out against entrenched sexism in the literary field, and she has discussed how she weaves a critique of sexist attitudes into her fiction:

“ For too long, women have been judged primarily on their looks rather than their abilities, and, even now – in a world in which we can hardly move for political correctness – men and women are still viewed slightly differently in the world of music, literature and the creative arts. There is a patronizing smirk from the world of literature when a woman writes a romantic novel; but when a man does the same thing, he is being sensitive and insightful, making a valuable statement on the nature of relationships. In Runemarks, the same thing happens; a boy who reads is intelligent and will go a long way; a girl who reads is “clever,” which is useless in a girl – even potentially dangerous. ”
The Norse Mythology Blog's interview with Joanne Harris
 

Emurelda

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That's s interesting. I assumed that publishing would be different considering the demographics of agents skewed towards women? No?
 

Nicole Wilson

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This is crazy. Not being in the publishing world just yet, I haven't had this exposure. But, as a thriller author, I did consider for a while using my initials instead of my first name since it's very obviously a woman's name. I know a lot of people don't pick up books by female authors (myself included subconsciously), especially in the male-dominated thriller genre, but I decided that I wasn't going to fuel that bias. So I use my full name now.
 
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Jason Byrne

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I remember my roommate in college watching my Pandora roll by; he said,
"why is it you're a more popular male Indie singer the more disgustingly trollish you are, and you're a more popular female Indie singer the more breathtakingly beautiful you are?"
"I don't know, dude."

For my part, I believe women should have utter equality. Women should be able to publish a romance novel, publish a thriller novel, fight on the front line, and if you think you can pull my unconscious ass out of a burning building, by all means do so. They should even be allowed to vote, and drive an automobile.
 

Nicole Wilson

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if you think you can pull my unconscious ass out of a burning building,

Lol. I agree that women should have equality. But they have to have exactly that: equality. No lax requirements for something like the army because you're a female and can't be expected to be held to a standard of a male. You can't claim that "most women aren't that strong" so the requirement needs to be lowered. If you can't hold your own against a dude, you shouldn't be given special treatment because you're female.

That being said, I think the US is on the cusp of coming to that. It's been ignored for years and we're finally coming to the place where people are arguing about it so it's on people's minds. IMO, it'll be soon when we start seeing equal pay and opportunities. Of course, it'll be longer after that until everyone is okay with it.
 
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Jason Byrne

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Lol. I agree that women should have equality. But they have to have exactly that: equality. No lax requirements for something like the army because you're a female and can't be expected to be held to a standard of a male. You can't claim that "most women aren't that strong" so the requirement needs to be lowered. If you can't hold your own against a dude, you shouldn't be given special treatment because you're female.

That being said, I think the US is on the cusp of coming to that. It's been ignored for years and we're finally coming to the place where people are arguing about it so it's on people's minds. IMO, it'll be soon when we start seeing equal pay and opportunities. Of course, it'll be longer after that until everyone is okay with it.
Thank you. It is quite the opposite of sexism to have exactly the same requirements. The enemy is not going to lower their standards because you're a woman! Why give you less effective preparation?!

Off the topic of sexism in publishing, but it's all one and the same; it stems from the same fallacy.
 

Emurelda

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Oh... Yeah, Emu... Sorry...:eek:
Double whammy eh? ;)

For the record I have not experienced any professional barriers personally and I generally try to ignore cliques too. I certainly hope this streak doesn't end with the publishing sector!

The best way to break barriers is assertiveness..no one is intentionally prejudice the saying 'birds of a feather flock together' has its roots for a reason. You only have to look at people's facebook friends to see how unintentional it all is. I am blessed to have a myriad of friends from all cultures. Admittedly there is a skew of maybe 20- 25% of them being Iraqi females.
 

Nicole Wilson

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Double whammy eh? ;)

For the record I have not experienced any professional barriers personally and I generally try to ignore cliques too. I certainly hope this streak doesn't end with the publishing sector!

The best way to break barriers is assertiveness..no one is intentionally prejudice the saying 'birds of a feather flock together' has its roots for a reason. You only have to look at people's facebook friends to see how unintentional it all is. I am blessed to have a myriad of friends from all cultures. Admittedly there is a skew of maybe 20- 25% of them being Iraqi females.

I've also noticed in both my personal and professional life that if you act like you know what you're doing and you belong, most people won't question you.
 

Emurelda

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I've also noticed in both my personal and professional life that if you act like you know what you're doing and you belong, most people won't question you.

Exactly...be a chameleon. :)

I've studied physics, worked in the actuarial field, procured sponsorship from major corps who practically threw their money at our projects!, and won numerous awards...like this...and many others..some whilst I was pregnant !! This leads me to believe that the world is for the taking. I have admittedly ignored my gremlin that reminds me every now and again moments of 'differentiating' from various individuals that i have experienced...but haven't we all ;)
 
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Jason Byrne

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I've also noticed in both my personal and professional life that if you act like you know what you're doing and you belong, most people won't question you.
Then YOU madam have not run into a real-life, blatantly-offensive sexist.
sexism-is-wrong-meme.jpg

The least offensive sexism meme available on the internet.
 

Nicole Wilson

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Then YOU madam have not run into a real-life, blatantly-offensive sexist.
View attachment 182

The least offensive sexism meme available on the internet.

No, I haven't. I count myself lucky for that. I've always fit in more with the guys, so it may have something to do with that, but even then, I work in corporate America and enjoy thriller stuff, but have yet to encounter someone rude enough to call me out on something because I'm a woman.
 

Emurelda

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Then YOU madam have not run into a real-life, blatantly-offensive sexist.
View attachment 182

The least offensive sexism meme available on the internet.

I've met some weirdos. My head of dept was rather unprofessional in front of me only. I would say a good morning and get a snarl back, or during a meeting he would scratch his crotch and pick his noise..eurgh! And when I requested to include some OJ for us teetotals during an office celebration he didn't accomodate.

When i decided to take it up with my personal mentor she responded with 'he's always nice to me' :rolleyes:
 
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Jason Byrne

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I've met some weirdos. My head of dept was rather unprofessional in front of me only. I would say a good morning and get a snarl back, or during a meeting he would scratch his crotch and pick his noise..eurgh! And when I requested to include some OJ for us teetotals during an office celebration he didn't accomodate.

When i decided to take it up with my personal mentor she responded with 'he's always nice to me' :rolleyes:
Stay classy guy.:eek:
 

Emurelda

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Stay classy guy.:eek:

Some people just can't help it though. On a separate example during a networking event when it came to my turn to connect with, the guy asked me for the male toilets...lol! Must have been desperate but that certainly isn't a question you ask if you're trying to impress another colleague. Not in the profession I worked in...this was at the Bank of England!!
 
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Paul Whybrow

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This is crazy. Not being in the publishing world just yet, I haven't had this exposure. But, as a thriller author, I did consider for a while using my initials instead of my first name since it's very obviously a woman's name. I know a lot of people don't pick up books by female authors (myself included subconsciously), especially in the male-dominated thriller genre, but I decided that I wasn't going to fuel that bias. So I use my full name now.
It's worth considering the example of J.K. Rowling, and make of it what you will. She was advised by a publishing executive not to use her real name of Joanne, or her preferred Jo, on the basis that boy readers wouldn't take to a story of wizardry written by a woman. See, little sexists rule the world, in a real tail wagging the dog situation! She chose the K initial from her maternal grandmother. It's noticeable that in pronouncing her name quickly, the J and K sound like Jake, making it even more butch - I wonder how much artifice was involved with this is mind.
Even more intriguingly, Rowling hid behind the male pen name of Robert Galbraith to publish a detective novel The Cuckoo's Calling. I'm sure that there were sound marketing reasons for this...
There aren't many examples of male writers adopting a female nom-de-plume. I found one yesterday, while checking on a competition that Mills & Boon, the romance publishers are running. I saw mention of it in one of the publishing newsletters that I subscribe to, wondering if a novella that I'd written about a widower whose wife chose assisted suicide to escape terminal cancer, and who goes on to find new love with an old flame, would fit their entry requirements. As it turned out, it was ineligible due to having been published as an ebook.
Looking around the Mills & Book catalogue, I was rather bemused that they'd joined the trend of publishing erotic romances. When I worked as a librarian we used to call M & B paperbacks 'bodice rippers', as they commonly featured torrid historical romances between a dominant man and a submissive woman. Nothing has changed much,(except perhaps the arrival of nipple clamps) and I've got to say that this publisher has some of the most sexist and demeaning requirements for plots that I've seen. They skirt around this problem in a mealy-mouthed way by saying that it's what their readers expect.
Their only male writer, a chap called Roger Sanderson uses his wife Gill's name to write romances : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1112426/Mr-Romance-Meet-Mills--Boons-male-author.html
Hmmm, I see a career opportunity beckoning - perhaps I should visit my local charity shop and buy that green taffeta ballgown they've got, slip it on and write some romances. I could become Cornwall's bearded lady writer!
 

Katie-Ellen

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Re; that one non-white editor Peter mentions. In the 80's, I did an Hons in Art and Design History with my sights of Museum/Art Gallery work, and Museums were my first jobs. Of our intake of 40, one was non-white; she was black, and there were no Asian students. Not one, and this was in Leicester, a seriously multi cultural city. But on other courses, the mix was very different----a real mix, much more representative of the city as a whole.

Later, I worked in an open plan County Council office where 3 young Asian ladies sat together at a table, one Hindu, one Muslim, one Sikh. They told me Arts were just OUT in their family's books. You had to get ON. Literature, Art History, all Arts were Mickey Mouse. (Despite the fact we had a big fashion and Design export market, but never mind)
If you wanted to get on, it had to be Medicine/Pharmaceuticals, the Law, IT or Engineering (Electronic).
Failing those, ohhhhhhhhh noooooooo Administration.

Sexists; they didn't bother me, bar howling once for me to show them something I had no intention of showing them, but I met some in the 90's, working in private sector Recruitment in Manchester. On Fridays after lunch they used to get their *****s out and bellow, thumping them on the table.
 

Emurelda

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Re; that one non-white editor Peter mentions. In the 80's, I did an Hons in Art and Design History with my sights of Museum/Art Gallery work, and Museums were my first jobs. Of our intake of 40, one was non-white; she was black, and there were no Asian students. Not one, and this was in Leicester, a seriously multi cultural city. But on other courses, the mix was very different----a real mix, much more representative of the city as a whole.

Later, I worked in an open plan County Council office where 3 young Asian ladies sat together at a table, one Hindu, one Muslim, one Sikh. They told me Arts were just OUT in their family's books. You had to get ON. Literature, Art History, all Arts were Mickey Mouse. (Despite the fact we had a big fashion and Design export market, but never mind)
If you wanted to get on, it had to be Medicine/Pharmaceuticals, the Law, IT or Engineering (Electronic).
Failing those, ohhhhhhhhh noooooooo Administration.

I always face palm when another one of my 'ambitious' Iraqi friends wants to become a doctor/dentist/pharmacist. I think you are spot on about the cultural issue - I definitely second that from first hand experience. There are the outliners who go a different path like 3D animation, airline pilot, jazz (hobby), and journalism but these are the exceptions not the norm.

I loved history and art but was heavily influenced to choose geography and drop any notion of art at all.
 
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Meerkat

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I double majored in art history and English in college. I recall only one non-white fellow student per major.

And actually, BOTH study tracks were about 85% female. That bothered me, too.
 
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