The 2013 VIDA Count was just released, and it’s bigger and better than ever. If you’re not familiar with VIDA, we’re an organization dedicated to raising the profile of women in the literary arts, and The Count is our highest-profile project. Put briefly: we count how many women & men were published in major literary outlets and present those numbers in easy-to-read pie charts.
I’ve been working on The Count for the past two years, first as a Counter and this year as a Count Coordinator, and I can tell you that counting is an arduous task – not least because we want to do it right. The beautiful thing about the VIDA Count is that it’s not a witch hunt, it’s just information. We hold a mirror up to the world, and if the world is brave, it looks.
There have been some notable improvements this year – The Paris Review and The New York Times Book Review (under the new editorship of Pamela Paul) both moved significantly closer to gender parity (without a drop in quality! Imagine that), and though the New Republic was (as usual) abysmal, their editor Chris Hughes put out a statement taking responsibility for their unequal representation and promising to do better in the future – it’s a start, and if the numbers do even out, a good one.
Of course VIDA doesn’t account for racial disparities in publishing, and as Roxane Gay has noted, those numbers are every bit as important and disheartening. This is part of a larger conversation about bringing all the talented literary voices to the table, and it doesn’t stop here.
If you’re interested in the work VIDA does, please get involved and keep the conversation going – especially if you’re a transgender writer, a writer of color, or any other marginalized voice who doesn’t feel we’re doing enough yet. Let’s all keep each other accountable, and keep working.
One great way to get involved is to join VIDA - we offer membership for only $25 a year, which comes with great perks & helps keep us going (VIDA is an all-volunteer org., so believe me, that money isn’t going to cushy salaries). Another great way is to volunteer your time. Or come talk to us at AWP (booth 1400!). Or share/re-tweet/respond to some of the articles being posted about VIDA. Every little bit counts. We are here to share information and ideas.
IN OTHER, MORE RIDICULOUS NEWS:
I feel I should explain that this comic was drawn as a specific treat for my friend Angie Dell, who bid on a custom comic at an auction to benefit the literary magazine Hayden’s Ferry Review. As I suspected, the animal she requested for the comic was her cat, Lula.
When Angie adopted Lula she asked me to help come up with a name that would reflect Lula’s nature as “kind of a cat, kind of a robot.” Of course, I suggested Oranges 3000. Angie did not name her this, but in my heart, so it ever shall be: Lula Oranges 3000 The Great. This comic, I believe, reflects dear Oranges 3000 in her true form.
OK THEN. Moving on.