Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bros Before Prose (Slight Return)

As you've no doubt noticed, the Internet has struggling and/or failed writers standing around forlornly at the end of every URL off-ramp. It's an unforgiving, stingy market for them. Thus I can't realistically fault some poor fucker with an utterly useless English degree and an unread manuscript for grasping at any straw that promises a slight career advantage, even if it might seem unsporting, say, to invoke racist or sexist discrimination in order to shoulder one's way closer to the head of the line. Whatever idealistic bullshit you may occasionally read about the moral benefits of fiction, writers, like anyone else, will do what they have to in order to get ahead.

It is tedious, however, to see the faux-civil-rights issue of gender imbalances in prominent literary outlets becoming an increasingly popular spectator sport, complete with all the snark and posturing typical of online drama. But whatever, fine; let's just say you somehow manage to browbeat all the prestigious journals into presenting an equally-divided pie chart of male and female authors and reviewers in every issue. Then let's say that a new study reveals that over the course of a year, male authors received positive reviews 58% of the time, while female authors only received positive reviews 39% of the time. Will that be accepted as just the way it goes, or will the same insinuations and accusations of sexism be leveled again in an attempt to game the refs? As you can guess, I'm inclined toward cynicism.