Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Girls, girls girls!

As Webmistress, I have been working hard to pull together Fringe's much-anticipated Ethnos issue (which will go live March 1). Though I had read each piece separately, it wasn't until I set the contributor page for the issue that I noticed we've got an all-female contributor list this time around.

When I made the realization, I was initially elated. Here I am, an editor at a magazine run by women, and I brag often about how many female authors we have featured over the past few years. I am proud that we have created a comfortable environment for work from all types of authors, be they female, male, transgender, non-white, non-traditional, or any other adjective you can muster.

But in spite of myself, I felt somehow self-conscious about having a male-free issue.

As I laid in bed last night with my now-usual pregnancy insomnia, I tried to reason with myself. The honest truth is that I felt that publishing all women would make men feel excluded. Why did this bother me? Afterall, women have often been excluded! But still, isn't our magazine trying to fight against the exclusion of anyone? So musn't we include the white male as well?

But then I intellectualized a bit. We did not set out to choose an all-female cast for this issue. Each genre editor chose the piece she thought worked best with the goal of the magazine and the goal of the theme issue. These contributors just happened to be women. Nothing to be self-conscious of there. And so I made myself feel better. And I realized that even I, a super feminist to the nth degree, cannot fully escape some ingrained patriarchal dictates. All I can do is reason with them, struggle with them, be conscious of them, and continue to fight against them.

And now you've heard my confession, so the circle is complete.

Julia (Who hopes you'll still think she's a good feminist. Do you?)


Amy said...

I think you are an excellent feminist. I honestly have never seen an "all male" issue of anything, but I can't tell you the number of journals and anthologies I've read that "trend male" in an astonishing way -- maybe 1 or 2 women authors or poets thrown into what might otherwise be referred to as a "sausagefest." We're not far enough into the women's movement to star worrying about OVERcompensation yet. I mean, for how many 1000s of years have men dominated literature? I figure we've got about that long to go. :-)

Michael said...

The more important question is quite possibly: why the angst about being a good feminist?

If the feminist ideology has become something masterful, something that looks at(as if from some great height) and judges your actions/decisions, then it has quite possibly become to you a sort of patriarchal structure in itself It is the not for the sake of the female gender that feminism is valuable, but feminism's "otherness" is what gives it power, its denial of substructural, violent, authority. If "feminism" becomes something that can oppress, it must be semiotically relocated within a linguistic geography that lacks such violence. I'm sure you're aware of this debate already, but hey, it's there.

So it's just the way you phrased your reaction (which implied both a burden and a responsibility put upon you by some feminist spectre) that threw me for a loop, not the prospect of an all female magazine. Who cares? More importantly, what would your reaction have been if it had turned out an all male magazine?