Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reviewin' La VIDA Loca

There's been some coverage of and soul-searching about the VIDA statistics that show that women authors still being reviewed at a much lower level than men authors. (Bookslut has been having a particularly interesting series on it, but there are lots and lots of other places commenting.)

Curious, I decided to look into my own reviewing record in Bourgeois Book Club. The final tally: 25 male authors reviewed/9 female authors reviewed, or a 64%/36% split. I had a feeling there would be more men than woman, but I was surprised and disappointed that it was that skewed. In part, I think the numbers reflect the fact that I often review books from male-dominated genres (why they are male-dominated is a whole other conversation), including history, science, and science fiction.

But I don't want to abnegate any responsibility so breezily. I am, after all, choosing to review those books. What I review isn't all of what I read. I tend to review what I really like, what I think might be of interest to you, the reader, what I consider important or thought-provoking, and/or what I think deserves the attention. For instance, I went on a Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice fan sequel kick a few months ago, all written by women, but I didn't review them. I enjoyed them well enough, and they were fine to pass the time during a particularly slow and dull time at work, but I didn't think they were anything much worth mentioning. Did gendered bias have something to do with this? Did I dismiss those stories as unimportant and not worth the time to review just because they were "girly"? I don't think so, but it has gotten me thinking.

What does it say that I, who likes to think of himself as an enlightened individual who loves women and women authors, has reviewed them a lower rate than men authors? I don't know. It's something I need to keep in mind going forward. Hopefully, I can in future at least approach parity.

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