Takeaways from Ladies Month
Monday is August 1st, so I guess Ladies Month is officially over. Books by Jennifer Loring, Jessica McHugh, Mercedes Yardley, Juliet Escoria, Ashley Farmer, Molly Tanzer, Jennifer Robin, Sarah Chen, Erika Krouse, Neliza Drew, Lauren Beukes, Marie Crosswell and Damien Angelica Walters as well as reviews of Pride & Prejudice and freakin' BEYONCÉ's latest album were featured. Perhaps my favorite moments though were the conversations I had with Ladybox Books editor Constance Ann Fitzgerald and standout novelist Damien Angelica Walters about being women in publishing. They are rather long reads, but worth your freakin' time if you want to better understand their reality.
At the beginning of the month I declared wanting the work of female artists to change my perception. To forever bend my perception on gender in art. I wanted something to happen to happen to the reader I was and I think my expectations were met. I don't know about Gabino (who exceptionally reviewed three books this month), but expect him to drop some knowledge here next month if Ladies Month changed the game for his reading self. Now, without further ado...
- There really is an overarching difference between how men and women write stories. Women's fiction feels very uncluttered. Men often have this inherent set of rules. This moral breakdown of the universe between good and evil that aims to control your perception. Most of the writers featured on the blog last month don't have this problem. Their fiction take the world as-is because the world in challenging enough. Some of these works were just a pure emotional onslaught I couldn't have been prepared for. I hoped to find at least one candidate for my best-of 2016 lists and I found three. So, THAT was positive.
- I understand marginalized voices a little better now, too. Ladies Month got very little support from people in publishing. The numbers were low this month because of summer, but they were lower than usual and whenever we had a spike (for Ashley Farmer and Constance Ann Fitzgerald mostly) it went back down right after). It must be frustrating to have your reality deemed uninteresting by Average-White-Man-with-Malleable-Self-Esteem from Brooklyn, only to have him reimagine your struggle and offer his own bullshit take on women. You've read him: his women are super sexy, super able and yet can't fight themselves out of a paper bag (physically or emotionally) without boring male protagonist X. If you're a man and call yourself a feminist, prove it. Support women. Let them talk. Feature them if you have a platform. Otherwise, you're just another insecure internet schmuck and your rhetoric's only point is to feel good about yourself.
- Now that I've started, I can't stop. Stopping to review female authors would defeat the point of Ladies Month as much as keeping reviews of their work to a single month every year would (although I'm planning another one earlier next year. Thinking April). I have to find ways to feature more women in conversation and reviews here because they need a platform much more than they need my sympathy or any bullshit token gesture of support. Ultimately, what I can do with this blog is limited because I'm a white man, it's my blog, my perspective and I intend to keep it that way, but I've started something here. It's going to be 50-50 anytime soon, but there will be changes. Ladies, if you want to submit your work, there is NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW.
- I don't have a solution to the marginalization of women in publishing. I definitely AM NOT the solution (that would be a very white man thing to say), but as long as I keep fighting it in my own way, maybe I can inspire you to do so, get out of your comfort zone and seek other perspective. I'm aware not many readers will take this invitation at heart, but in the immortal words of Morpheus: "I can only show you the door, Neo. You're the one that has to walk through it." If you're OK with the women of the John Updikes and Jonathan Franzens of their world, maybe you deserve cheap parody.
- Next event month will be Horrorctober which will feature only cosmic horror novels and you'll be glad to know I've zeroed in on two KILLER female authors for the occasion.