The Baffling Things Only Women Writers Hear

It’s no secret that there are issues in the publishing industry that have yet to be properly addressed. In the process of deciding who to publish, what books will be marketable, and what content is ‘hot’ in the moment, publishers overlook thousands of authors and novels. We hear about instances of authors being turned down, and people have noticed the discrepancy in what women hear versus what men hear when publishers say “no” to their books. Researchers have tried to document what kind of gender inequality exists within the publishing industry, and people have tried to make change. According to New Republic;

Since the early 2000s, gender inequality in the culture industry—literature, music, and film—has become the site of increasing protest. Calls for more and better roles for women in mainstream movies have become commonplace in the last five years. In the world of writing, gender bias has come to be seen as particularly entrenched, and in 2009, VIDA—a group of volunteers interested in drawing attention to gender inequality in the field of book reviewing—began what they called “the count.”  The results of their study proved withering from the start. Men appeared 66 percent more often in The New York Times Book Review. Three times more often in the London Review of Books. Other magazines, such as The Times Literary Supplement,had even worse numbers. These numbers are valuable because they can track how often publications deign to review books by women, but what they can’t track is how reviewers then treat women’s work: how they write about women and the stereotypes they invoke.

Author, Joanne Harris (Chocolat) took to Twitter to shed light on the situation according to female authors. 

Thus, the hashtag, #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear was born.   

While this hashtag is powerful and enlightening, it should be noted that this hashtag overwhelmingly excludes women of color. While searching through the tweets, I had a hard time finding tweets by women of color. I have included a couple which I did find, but I was surprised that there weren’t more. Despite this, the hashtag is incredibly important to understand sexism in the industry. 

It would certainly be interesting to see a hashtag detailing what writers of color hear from publishers. 




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