Who’s looking out for male writers?

This September, Black Inc. is publishing an all-male anthology of short stories called Where there’s smoke. It’s going to feature people like Nam Le, Tim Winton, Shane Moloney, David Malouf and JM Coetzee.

When I first heard about this all-men anthology, I thought it was a joke. Then someone told me it was being released as a companion volume to Something special, something rare, Black Inc.’s recent all-women short story anthology, featuring people like Cate Kennedy, Joan London, Kate Grenville, Alice Pung and Sonya Hartnett. I thought that was part of the joke, too. Then I checked the Black Inc. website. It wasn’t a joke.

I really wish it had been.

The single worst way to follow up an anthology celebrating the cream of Australia’s women writers is to turn right around and publish an all-men book less than six months later. Why would anyone even do that? Is it some kind of attempt to ‘balance things out’ – to make sure that in all the focussing on women’s writing we don’t overlook men’s writing?

That’s doubtful: as has often been discussed in literary circles, men’s writing is hardly at risk of being overlooked. Statistics provided by the Stella Count and the VIDA Count make it clear how much gender imbalance has existed in the history of publishing, and how differently writing by men and women has been treated.

These differences manifest themselves in many ways including the way women authors are reviewed, the amount of time or column inches devoted to reviewing writing by women, the relative numbers of male and female reviewers (and their prominence, both in terms of page layout and frequency of publication), and the way that books by men and women are marketed.

In every single instance, male authors receive more consistent and more prominent publication and promotion than women authors. Even writing that focuses on the experience of men, whether written by women or men, is generally treated as better than writing that has female protagonists.

All of these differences support the false assumption that, because more male writers are written about – and written about more prominently – male authors must be more worthy of being written about than women. It also supports the assumption that the opinions, views and ideas of male writers are worth more than those of women writers, and thus that the opinions of men in general are worth more than the opinions of women.

Until very recently there has been a distinct lack of public acknowledgement of this longstanding bias, except in specialist circles. This has allowed it to continue unchallenged for a very long time. To a large proportion of the reading public, these differences aren’t a result of bias at all – they’re simply how things are.

The titles of these two anthologies are a perfect example of this kind of bias in action. The all-men book gets a title evocative of the power of fire, while the all-women book’s title implies that talented women writers are difficult to find. Now it may be the case that these books’ titles came from titles of the stories in the collections themselves, but surely there were other, better choices on offer.

I contacted Black Inc. to ask them about their motivation for publishing Where there’s smoke. They responded with the following:

Just as it’s interesting and valuable to consider women’s writing as a collective body or canon of work (as we did in our recent collection, Something Special, Something Rare) it is interesting and valuable to observe men’s writing in this way too (not as the default, but as a formal exercise). Within each group there is great diversity of voices – there’s no one ‘women’s writing’ or ‘men’s writing’ – and this becomes even clearer once their respective canons are separated.

But publishing a collection that focuses on the work of women writers isn’t ‘interesting’. It’s essential if you want to push back against the gender bias that exists in the Australian publishing industry. Publishing an all-male anthology isn’t interesting either. In fact, it’s an incredibly loaded gesture.

If a natural response to an all-women anthology is to publish a collection by men, do we also need an all-male literary award in response to the Stella Awards? Perhaps as a formal exercise to see what kind of diverse male authors’ work such an award would celebrate? Maybe we need more anthologies featuring only white authors in response to anthologies that focus on Indigenous Australian authors or writers from non-European backgrounds?

Of course we don’t. Male (particularly white male) authors already get more than enough column inches, airtime and accolades to illustrate and celebrate the diversity within their ranks.

In a culture where privilege sits most with men, any attempt to shift gender imbalance is going to involve telling men, ‘this is not for you’. This is a problem for some men. But given that most publishers, editors, producers and reviewers are also men, they can often overlook such challenges.

The issue is this: we don’t get social equality by making sure that everyone gets an equal share. We get social equality by questioning and rejecting the long-standing inequalities that have shaped society over centuries by creating false assumptions about people’s relative value.

We do that by working to make sure the people who are the beneficiaries of that inequality (directly or indirectly) are challenged, even provoked, into becoming aware of their privilege and prevented from blithely taking advantage of it. The hope is that they won’t respond to genuine attempts to address that inequality by saying, ‘Where’s mine?’

Challenges to gender bias in publishing have been taking place for a relatively short time. It’s far too early to start pushing back and arguing for equal treatment for men. What’s confronting for some about this is the need to accept that men already have a more than equal share of things. Indeed, men are going to have to give some things up if they want to make a difference to the way things are – things like salary increases, job opportunities and, yes, the chance to be published in an all-male short story anthology.

There’s no need for a book like Where there’s smoke. The Australian reading public doesn’t need another ‘celebration’ of men’s writing. None of the authors in this anthology need help getting published (none of them are particularly hard to find in bookshops, either).

The same cannot necessarily be said for the authors in anthologies that focus on excluded writers. Such writers need the help of specialist collections to raise their voices above the loud and pervasive promotion of men and their writing. Men don’t.


Adam Ford

Adam Ford is the author of Man Bites Dog, The Third Fruit is a Bird, Not Quite the Man for the Job and Heroes and Civilians. He has written for Australian Author, Desktop, Going Down Swinging and Cordite. He blogs at theotheradamford.

More by Adam Ford ›

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. Nice article – the title raised my hackles, admittedly, I worried it was going to be arguing for exactly what it was critiquing. This was very thoughtful!

  2. I don’t think any of the issues you raise are relevant in any way, shape or form. First, in the general industry I would say most people in publishing are female, except of course the very top (and that is an issue). At Black Inc. it appears 50% of management is female http://www.blackincbooks.com/contact And if I recall Black Inc. is largely bankrolled by one man (may be wrong)? Anyway, these aren’t a bunch of MRAs saying ‘BUT WHAT ABOUT MEN?!?’ this is just a mirrored publishing decision to tie into what I assume was a successful all female anthology. Who knows, maybe they plan to follow up with an all Aboriginal anthology, or one focussed on migrant writers? Besides Coetzee’s Disgrace is one of the best explorations of privilege around.

    Again, this has nothing to do with equality, just a pretty basic publishing decision.

    1. “in the general industry I would say most people in publishing are female” – it may seem powerful to be inclined to say something that justifies your opinion, but i would say it’s much more useful (and convincing) to cite some actual facts rather than throw random guesses out there and pretend they’re statistics. Just my opinion though

      1. I didn’t post any statistics because I already knew the answer. But if you insist.


        ‘Meanwhile, the pay gap between men and women—the other well-known imbalance in the industry—continued in 2013, even though women accounted for 74% of the publishing workforce and men only 26%.’


  3. At least all those writers that are in this anthology are (NOT) struggling, emerging new talent, new underrepresented voices and so on … Why would anyone want to read Tim Winton is beyond me. That guy is a poster boy for anglo dominated literary establishment.

    1. Francis, publishing decisions are rarely based on personal opinion alone. Nor are all books going to feature emerging new talent. In fact, those two facts combine and point to the fact that publishing houses like to make a profit sometimes (not that they tend to with any anthologies).

  4. Tom, what is a “basic publishing decision” and why shouldn’t we criticise such decisions? Are you saying that because the publishers might have been motivated by purely commercial reasons, or by an unexamined desire to “balance out” or complement the all-female anthology, it’s pointless to question the politics of the project?

    The publishers obviously aren’t “a bunch of MRAs”. But it’s still an oddly MRA-like project: “Hey, the ladies got a whole book to themselves! What about the men??” Their official explanation seems naive at best, disingenuous at worst — could such a politically engaged publishing house really be so blind to the point Adam Ford makes so succinctly in his last paragraph? Publishing an all-male collection isn’t just unnecessary. It also sends a message that women and men are “different but equal”, and that gender imbalance isn’t a real problem.

    Also: I hate hate hate the title of the women’s anthology. So ladylike, so polite. In 1975 Outback Press, published “Mother I’m Rooted”. Are we going backwards?

    1. Succinct last paragraph?

      There’s no need for a book like Where there’s smoke. That’s just, like, your opinion, man.

      The Australian reading public doesn’t need another ‘celebration’ of men’s writing. It’s just another book in the endless sea of published titles. It ain’t making or breaking anything. Besides, I believe Black Inc. used the term ‘observe’, not ‘celebrate’.

      None of the authors in this anthology need help getting published (none of them are particularly hard to find in bookshops, either). In both anthologies I see big names and people I don’t recognise. This isn’t about finding emerging writers, so moot point.

      The same cannot necessarily be said for the authors in anthologies that focus on excluded writers. Hence them being in other anthologies published by companies that focus specifically on these niche markets. Please see Twelfth Planet Press. I really don’t understand what the point here is?

      This is all just one big exercise in outrage and putting your words in the mouths of someone else, that being Black Inc. in this case.

      1. “This is all just one big exercise in outrage and putting your words in the mouths of someone else, that being Black Inc. in this case.” Huh. I thought it was an interesting and worthwhile discussion.

        I didn’t claim to know what Black Inc. was thinking, and I don’t think Adam Ford did, either. It’s not “putting words into the mouths of someone else” – it’s questioning the political significance of an action, whatever the publisher’s stated motivation might have been.

        You say “niche markets”, Ford says “excluded writers” – those two phrases probably sum up where we disagree. Gender (or race, or class, for that matter) aren’t simply marketing categories, and they’re not politically neutral. I don’t think anyone is attacking Black Inc. But publishing a single-gender anthology is undeniably political – it’s hardly surprising if it prompts a debate.

      2. Interesting points of discussion include gender pay gaps, review coverage, prizes promoting women and other initiatives, not whether one politically minded publisher decided to follow up an all female anthology with an all male one. Really, it’s just marketing and barely worth raising an eyebrow.

    1. Yes! It’s a great title, right? And, a neat bit of trivia: published by Outback Press, ie Morry Schwartz, ie proprietor of Black Inc., ie publisher of both the anthologies in question and Kate Jennings. Who, agreed, is awesome.

  5. Canonical camouflage may be a term I’d apply to the Black Inc. anthologies being floated here as some sort of gender harangue. (If I could be bothered reading both, that is.)

  6. What a massive cringe-worthy fail from Black Inc. Their rationale for this absurd tome speaks volumes for their take on literature; a neoliberalised meritocracy where any criticism in regard to exclusion of any group is met with the argument that we just ‘publish the best’.
    Their stated defence for this strange publishing decision can only lead to the conclusion that we don’t need collections of women’s writing, because there is no such thing. This is not only a bizarre and frankly right wing point of view, but one that denies the entire history of feminist literature. If Joanna Russ were alive to update her essay ‘How to suppress women’s writing’ Black Inc would probably get a special mention.
    I think we should now and forever refer to the argument that a feminist gender politic doesn’t apply to the production of literature as ‘The Black Inc Defence’.

    1. I always ask myself why it’s the dudes writing in angry response…

      Anyway, it’s not really what Black Inc. do. As I have said previously, there are plenty of anthologies promoting excluded writers. Now they may not have the clout of Black Inc. but that’s besides the point. Please explain how publishing this anthology somehow sets back feminism or offends anyone in anyway? It’s not like it’s replacing an Aboriginal anthology.

      1. I was asking myself the same thing about your comments, Tom! Maybe blokes feel they have more license to let loose with the aggro. Doesn’t mean women aren’t angry. We’ve just been trained to couch it in gentler language (sadly).

        To your question:

        The decision to publish an all-male anthology sets back feminism because it either rejects or ignores the very reason why all-female anthologies are necessary: ie, the fact that writing by women has been, and in mainstream publishing and criticism still often is, marginalised, trivialised and undervalued. As the article says, that’s why the idea of an all-male anthology is silly: male voices already dominate. There’s no shortage of them, and they are listened to more attentively.

        You could argue with these statements – I’m just setting out a feminist rationale for talking about “women’s writing”. But that doesn’t seem to be Black Inc’s reason for publishing an all-female collection. If it were, why follow it up with a collection that reproduces the very male dominance that already exists? As the article says, it’s the same as publishing an “all-white” or “all-straight” anthology: unnecessary (because those voices already dominate) and conservative. If Black Inc’s women’s anthology had been a feminist exercise, the men’s anthology wouldn’t exist.

        If you don’t buy the feminist rationale for a women’s anthology, and don’t think gender disparity is a real problem, the only other possible justification for sex-segregated collections is that you think men and women write differently, and that “men’s writing” and “women’s writing” are distinct and useful genres. Personally I don’t believe that, but it seems to me that’s the only other possible reason to publish sex-segregated books, if (like Black Inc) you don’t accept the feminist rationale outlined above.

        But Black Inc’s own statement says they don’t think this, which makes me think the whole thing may be an ill considered and half baked attempt to have it both ways – to be seen to promote and encourage women’s writing (and sell some books to women in the process), while giving a nod to any MRA types who might be pissed off by a women’s collection (and maybe grab some extra sales with a second book).

        That’s why I’m miffed by it, anyway. Will it destroy feminism? No. Of course not. But Tom, all of your arguments seem to end in telling us simply to stop talking about it – “it’s a moot point, it’s not important, it’s not a big deal.” You haven’t offered any answer to the actual criticism of the book. Do you work for Schwartz Media, or are you in the anthology? If not, I don’t get why you’re so annoyed by people discussing it.

    2. Feminism and so-called feminist literature must be pretty flimsy if WHERE THERE’S SMOKE ‘denies’ its ‘entire history.’ LOL. Give me a break. Ladies, come on. This, if you want, is also the nonsense you should be fighting against. Just saying.

      The irony of the title extends well beyond the book itself.

  7. What a storm in a nothing cup. Who cares what Black Inc. chooses to publish? Anyway, surely that’s their prerogative. If you don’t like – don’t buy – don’t read. Move on to other more pressing concerns – there are plenty that need more attention than this piddling non-issue.

  8. It isn’t always “the dudes” writing in angry response. Google Amy Gray, Van Badham, Clementine Ford and Catherine Deveney for a start, Tom. Great writers all, women all, and all completely dismissed by your comment there.

  9. I am a writer and a publisher. In 2014, I published two books which have barely been reviewed in Australia. My book ‘Bibliodiversity:A Manifesto for Independent publishers’ which tackles all these issues and more has not had a single review in Australia and yet there is a Canadian edition and translations are underway in Arabic and French. And a review overseas in Publishing Perspectives. Not all publishers are men either, and try veing a feminist publisher! As I wrote in my 2012 article ‘To whinge or not to whinge’ you would think that a feminist publisher would be approached by writers festivals running sessions on feminism. Spinifex has NEVER been approached for suggestions of feminists writers and yet we have thousands of feminist writers and hundreds in Australia (now and then a writer gets to speak about feminism but it’s usually an accident and sometimes a set up to knock down the writer). And if I sound like I’m still whinging it’s because it continues to get worse. The vast majority of reviews of my other book, a poetry collection called ‘Lupa and Lamb’ have appeared in the USA, a few in Australua but you’d expect it to be the other way round. Whingers of the world unite 🙂

    1. I notice no-one commented on anything you said. Perhaps because “personal experience” doesn’t count for much in a world of number-crunching and profit. Thanks for a picture of reality. WOTWU!

    2. Apologies for not replying earlier and thanks for this comment. I’ve requested copies of bibliodiversity to be bought by my local library and the city of Melbourne library. I look forward to reading it and hope the PLR helps out too.

  10. “… we don’t get social equality by making sure that everyone gets an equal share …”

    Not quite Martin Luther King’s I HAVE A DREAM speech …

  11. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Read the lit or read the sex. You’re not going to have this argument both ways no matter how much you wish it. People are often startled when their own actions are held up in a mirror.

  12. Chris – the VIDA and Stella statistics linked to above show that it’s not niche areas of publishing where men dominate – it’s in both mainstream newspapers/magazines AND literary journals that a disparity between the attention given to male and female authors can be seen

    Rutegar – MLK was a smart man. I’m sure he understood that achieving equality is about redistribution of privilege, which necessarily means taking from the privileged to give to the underprivileged. It’s not about just saying “okay we’re all equal. now what?” It’s about making things equal by changing the way things are done. It’s up to those with privilege to realise what’s happening – and why – and be empathic enough about it not to push back against this kind of redistribution

  13. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other on these two anthologies – I’d probably buy them both because I like the short story form. It should be said though that for some time now female writers have dominated short story anthologies like Best Australian Stories and Margaret River Press by a ratio of about five to one – principally because more women write short stories and they probably write better short stories. This isn’t an argument for all male anthologies but – at least in this one small section of the publishing world – female writers are well represented (think Clare Aman, Michelle Wright, Melanie Napthine, Eva Lomski – all great exponents of the form)

  14. It’s interesting that when you read about an “all male” anthology it seems such a bizarre idea, but when you read about an “all-female” one it doesn’t. It doesn’t because we accept that publishing is not democratic and we think there has to be special provision for women, like quotas in politics. And I’m sure that the people who buy the ‘all male’ will do so because of the big names in it, not because they care about the idea, whereas many women especially will buy the all-female one regardless of who’s in it. So in the end, instead of evening up the playing field, as Black Ink seems to be suggesting, it just maintains the tilt. The male one will sell better because male names have higher cachet and recognition value, everyone will say male writers sell better/are better, and on we go.

    1. Aside from the stereotyping and assumptions going on here, I would point out that the release of the male anthology will probably help boost sales of the previous title. Stores should have copies of the previous title, and reps may offer discounts so as to incentivise buyers. A good bookstore would put them side by side.

      1. I don’t think we can second-guess what bookshops will do here. For all we know, bookstores may think women’s anthologies don’t sell and so take the women’s collection off the shelf. Or that it’s much easier to sell one book than two. For these reasons and more, I don’t think we should be concentrating on how these books will be sold.

        As Adam argued, the primary issue at stake here is that all-women anthologies are put together to counter the fact that there is material bias toward men’s writing in the publishing industry. This bias results in a lack of representation of and interest in women’s writing – even though, as commenters here have pointed out, more women write short fiction. (Which actually means women are woefully underrepresented in anthologies and collections more generally.)

        The last point I’d make is this: institutional sexism and racism aren’t eliminated by having women or people of colour in positions of power.

        Which brings us back to Adam’s original question: what is the purpose of publishing an all-male anthology at this very moment in time – when all the discussion and evidence points to the exclusion of women writers? Surely a better follow-up anthology would have been one that included both men and women writers.

        1. ‘what is the purpose of publishing an all-male anthology at this very moment in time(?)’
          does there have to be a some profound political purpose? maybe to sell a few copies? showcase a some good writers?
          seriously, this article and many of the responses look more like a Destroy the Joint post than something on Overland.
          It’s a provocative article based on some generalisations, selective facts, and some courageous leaps of logic. I don’t blame the guy for writing it. But Overland should apply a bit more rigour.
          But god, when did everyone become so precious?
          last time I checked, women in Australia are not having too many problems getting published or making sales. So you care what a few wizened reviewers might say that about 6 people read and only 2 actually listen to? Is that really the main game?
          God … hasn’t everyone got ‘faux outrage’ fatigue yet?

          1. I understand you might not be a regular Overland reader Sooty, but we’re a literary journal, and so often publish on issues to do with literature, books and writing – marginalised writers, writers and payment, literary envy and the politics of publishing (to name a few).

            I’m sorry you don’t think there’s a problem for women in publishing, but that doesn’t change the facts or the experiences of many women in the field.

            ‘last time I checked … sales’: so where are your stats? What did you check? Which authors and compared to what – submissions? Merely asserting your opinion does not change reality.

            If this article isn’t of interest to you, perhaps you could read one of the 27 other pieces currently on the front page.

      2. I think how it’s sold/packaged has everything to do with this. And I don’t know why I’m the only one being positive about sell-in. If they were going to do a combined anthology, it’d be one hit, mix of women and men. This way they have more contributors, a double hit in the market for publicity/sales and have a nice mirrored effect (literally, the books are mirrors). It’s a bunch of well-regarded writers of both sexes, split over two books. They are presented equally with zero bias.

        I see your point vis a vis ‘…all-women anthologies are put together to counter the fact that there is material bias toward men’s writing…’ but I can safely say that this is not the intention of Black Inc. per se. This is an anthology with that mindset in mind http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/news/defying-doomsday-crowdfunding-campaign-on-pozible This is also an anthology with that mindset in mind http://www.xoum.com.au/shop/stories-of-sydney/

        These Black Inc anthologies are made of High Lit stories from (mostly) authors of Privilege (that is, known). There is not a chance in Hell Black Inc didn’t consider the implications before going to print, but they firmly believe that this is the right choice. There is no malice (perhaps stupidity; at least naivity) here. ‘If a natural response to an all-women anthology is to publish a collection by men…’ This was not a natural response, the two were always going to be printed, and I think they deliberately put the female anthology first (imagine the backlash if that hadn’t been the case!).

        And my point about the women working at Black Inc is more to do with Adam’s counterfactual remark, ‘But given that most publishers, editors, producers and reviewers are also men…’ I don’t know about reviewers. I know institutionalised racism/sexism is harder to remove than that.

  15. I think Black Inc.’s point is that while writing by women is read as demonstrating something about the conditions and lives and experiences of women, writing by men is read as demonstrating the human condition; of saying something about all of us. Clearly, there is a (sensible and worthwhile) ongoing effort by many to encourage the reading of women’s writing as being equally (capable of being) about the universal human condition. It seems to me that Black Inc.’s point is that sometimes male writers are writing about being men, not about the human universal, and maybe we would gain something by reading them that way more — hopefully not to increase the privileging of male experience, but to demonstrate that men shouldn’t be read as the default humans. Sometimes they write things that say something profoundly universal, and sometimes they don’t, just as it is for women. Publishing some stories specifically to get involved this issue seems worth doing, even if it isn’t going to solve the whole problem of the perception of women’s and men’s writing in one slim volume. Nobody would expect that that is ever possible on any issue.

    I agree that the actual lineup is a bit of a disappointment, for various reasons outlined by others above.

  16. This is a very specious and disingenuous article. Why can’t we celebrate both men’s and women’s writing? The author’s vitriol towards an all-male anthology seems to indicate some thinly-veiled misandry. Not cool, man.

    I am grateful, though. As a young male writer, I hadn’t even heard of Where There’s Smoke, so now I know of it I look forward to purchasing a copy.

    1. Whoa James nice, thickly-unveiled misogyny going on there. “Everyone should read writing by all genders” yet you only plan to purchase the all-male one??????? Telling. By the way, you read with your eyes not your dick

      1. I wish I could like comments, Valerie, because that was a great response. There is just nowhere to write, ‘As a young male writer…’ and not come off badly.

  17. I adore Black Inc as a publisher. I have been watching and reading wonderfully diverse Black Inc titles for years… and at the same time watching their ‘best ofs’ and anthologies remain/become whiter and whiter. I hope Black Inc continues to instill on Black Inc publishers their well known and widely respected ethos of acquiring diverse new voices such as Alice Pung, Benjamin Law and Michelle Diconoski.

  18. I finally figured out what was annoying me about the title ‘Something special, something rare’; it sounds like an advertisement for meat at Coles. Perhaps meat spiced with orchid genes.

  19. All publicity is good publicity? Black Inc. surely are grateful for the advertorial promotion and possible sales boost Overland is providing here (especially with those all so important corporate ‘bottom line’ facts and figures included).

  20. Dear Jacinda.
    Sorry if my comments seemed too provocative. But before you make patronising assumptions, I actually am a regular reader (and longtime subscriber).
    A bit of diversity of opinion doesn’t go astray, does it?
    And you’re right – I didn’t quote any stats (if you’re interested, maybe check out the current NYT best seller list). As for merely asserting my opinions, the author of this piece does exactly the same thing, but was good enough to publish.
    From what I understand, neither the Stella Count of VIDA brings up sales. Books by women sell very well, irrespective of what reviewers say. If sales were less for women, do you not think both the Stella list and VIDA would point that out? Of course they would. The reason they don’t is because it is not the case. Ask any publisher who it is that buys books. The majority are bought by women and read by women.
    It is fair, appropriate and accurate to point out that a majority of reviews are about books written by men. But to suggest that Black Inc shouldn’t publish a book featuring male writers is a strange leap of logic. Perhaps, to be charitable, the online articles on Overland are not subject to the same level of rigour as the hardcopy.

  21. I just wanted to thank those male commentators who took the time to explain why sexism isn’t a problem in the Australian book industry. Sometimes we ladies get all het-up over media bias, historical inequalities, institutionalised mysogyny, blah blah blah. Dare I say, we can get a little hysterical with our “faux outrage” and our “piddling non-issues”. Luckily, it’s nothing a firm talking-to in a gruff voice can’t fix. Thanks, fellers.

    1. Thanks for finally seeing the light on this ‘piddling non-issue’, which happens to excludes “media bias (mostly), historical inequalities, institutionalised mysogyny (sic), (and whatever is subsumed by the) blah blah blah”, all of which fall under the “more pressing concerns” noted above, covered daily and superbly, I might add, in short stories published by Overland, stories far superior to those published by Black Inc. if genres are mixed to the extent of seeing and reading non-fiction or ‘writing the real’ as literary forms too.

    2. iron bridge is right. Personally, my only issue was this specific one which yes I still think is insignificant in perspective, not the definite problems in the industry at large. I believe it’s called picking your battles, or conserving your resources? I dunno, something like that.

      1. yes, i can see that (singular) point – guess i wished to point out that maybe literature as a set of reified canonical forms has had its day, perhaps – and that an open field is up for grabs to all genders

      2. yes, i can see that (singular) point – guess i wished to point out that literature as a set of reified canonical forms has had its day, perhaps – and that an open field is up for grabs to all genders

  22. I just want to thank Adam Ford for bringing shrill and ridiculous attention to a book I otherwise would not have known about, let alone considered purchasing.

    Buying two copies has brought a warm glow.

  23. But would there be an issue here if the women’s anthology hadn’t been published first?

    You start by assuming causality between two distinct events, and agency on behalf of Black Inc. In fact all the things you target are actually just your own assumptions about what’s going on.

    There is absolutely no basis on which to say “men’s voices and men’s writing studied as such is invalid if it follows on from a similar women’s effort”. That book deserves to be read, analysed and reviewed on its own merit.

    The men whose words are in that book would be pretty disappointed to have their writing invalidadted in this way, especially where they’re unlikely to have known anything about the broader context here when they penned them.

    In short, no we don’t support tokenism in gender politics, but I don’t think its fair to characterise an anthology of work from a series of individual writers that would have fap all clue what on earth Black Inc had ever published in that way.

    And behind all this somewhere is the mildly sexist notion that publishing women’s voices is some kind of “special free kick for the ladies that evens things out with the blokes”.

    You’ve actually fallen into the trap you’re warning about. Why do you feel the need to discuss an anthology of women’s writing by sizing it up against the male equivalent? Why can’t women’s writing EVER just stand on its own?

    Because the publication of the second volume doesn’t change one syllable of the first. Yet somehow the existence of the men’s volume has lessened the import of the women’s? That’s all your context and all taking place in your head.

    – the other other Adam Ford

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