The Orange Prize announced their longlist this week, to coincide with International Women’s Day. I saw on Twitter a few grumblings about these ‘women only’ events, sadly a lot of them from young women, who seem to think it’s better to talk about ‘people’, and not single women out for special treatment.
This would be fine, if men hadn’t been having all the special treatment for centuries. If sexism wasn’t still rife in the workplace, in pay packets, in casual pub conversation, on television, in magazines and newspapers. If sexism wasn’t still so institutionalised that it’s sometimes hard to spot it, especially now that no one talks about it out loud.
Last year Vida (Women in the Literary Arts) released their first Count, a tally of book reviews, totting up the gender of reviewer and author. The results showed a gender bias across most publications, weighted significantly towards men. The Guardian ran an article with responses from commissioning editors, where the TLS editor, Peter Stothard, said that he would be very surprised if the numbers of published books were split 50/50 between the genders (and if that’s true, shouldn’t we be concerned about that as well?). He seemed to think this excused the fact that around three quarters of the authors and reviewers of books in the TLS were male, but he revealed his real problem in his next sentence: “we know