Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Indeed walrusy

"I spend a lot of my time thinking about it and a lot of time counting, counting how many men are mentioned, say, on the front page of a newspaper as against how many women, counting men in photographs of some new committee, counting members of Parliament. We all know that the number of women has slipped downward. So I seem to be bean counting all the time. It's a great burden. It's an irritation. I wish I didn't have to do it, but I'm too conscious of it not to think about it." --Carol Shields interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel in "Ideas of Goodness" from Random Illuminations: Conversations with Carol Shields

I quote because there is not one woman contributor listed in The Walrus' table of contents for October/November. Which has happened before (when Heather Mallick was "struck by the Aspergian social inadequacy of this indeed walrusy magazine.") As a subscriber, as well as someone who's recommended this magazine to others, I am becoming disappointed and embarrassed. And bothered, that the best spin I can put on this is just that perhaps they haven't noticed. The worst being their content criteria is excellence only, and perhaps women writers are excluded from that? But I don't believe it.

I've found the magazine suffering lately from its dearth of women writers, not just in principle but in content. I maintain that women and men write differently, that literature and letters are richer for that, but The Walrus seems to have forgotten. A magazine in which I read every article every month, even what doesn't interest me, because I suppose that I will learn something, that the piece is there for a reason. But lately I'm not so sure that I should bother. Because if the women aren't there because no one has noticed, perhaps there's not so much reason after all. Because if the women aren't there and nobody cares, this isn't the magazine for me.

Though I do fear becoming one of those frenzied "Canceling My Subscription" people. Must not do that.