For those who, like me, are always on the hunt for inspiration on what to read, El Cultural – El Mundo‘s culture supplement – recently published a list of Spanish language literature blogs, which you can find here. I’ll be sure to browse it extensively!
However, there’s a catch. I first came across this list through a tweet from the wonderful Kirsty of Books on Spain. She mentioned a website called Escritoras.com that was taking issue with the list. Escritoras.com
focuses on literature written by women and complains that the list doesn’t include a single female blogger. So they went on to produce a list of their own, including exclusively female bloggers, which you can find here. I will browse it just as extensively as the other list, and I think so should you. Why? A rant is to come, get comfortable and prepare for me to navigate some stormy waters.
I didn’t really used to consider myself a feminist. I have some issues with this term, because it includes a wide variety of views, and I definitely do not buy into all of them. For example, I do not believe that women are in any way ‘superior’ to men, and neither do I think they are exactly ‘the same’. There are certainly differences, not only physical, but also in terms of behaviour [N.B.: I know some people claim this is entirely due to education. I’m no expert, but I do have my doubts]. What I do believe, though, is that these differences should not play out to the disadvantage of women. I may be willing to accept that a physically strong man may be better suited to certain physical tasks, such as heavy-duty fire fighting, which may involve lifting heavy weights. I’m not willing to accept that for that reason, women should be excluded from being fire fighters. In less physical jobs, I don’t see any reason why the fact that a woman may perform a task (say, sitting on the board of a big corporation) differently should make her performance inferior.
Increasingly, I find myself unable to accept that some men still belittle women, especially in the professional context, and frown upon measures to ease their careers. I’m not talking about quotas here, I’m talking about measures designed to turn the fact that women bear children into a non-problem for their professional lives. Even if it happens subconsciously, women are discriminated against. A lot. This is bad. If that view makes me a feminist, then perhaps I am one. So far, so good.
What does that have to do with literary blogging?
I fully agree with the writers of Escritoras.com. Because of the subtle mechanisms of discrimination against women, they do not appear on the list of best literary bloggers in cultural supplements (and only 7 made it into the 34 person-strong selection committee). Because they don’t appear there, people think (good) female literary bloggers don’t exist. And because people don’t think they exist, they probably won’t appear on the next list either. And so on. As they said at Escritoras.com, invisibility generates invisibility. Additionally, I think, it reinforces a subtle (or not so subtle in some cases) societal perception that men are somehow better and more entitled to be at the top. I have to recognise I’m at fault here too. If I look at the list of reviews this blog has generated so far, most of them are reviews of male authors’ works. I’ve recently started trying to read more female authors. I’m also trying to do that without forfeiting the male ones – let’s not swing in the other direction now, I’m not on some kind of crusade here. So hopefully in the future the reviews will have a better gender balance.
Those of you who read Spanish, I encourage you to look at both lists and make up your own minds. I’d be interested to hear your views.
And for the more general audience, what do you think about the visibility of women in literature and in general?