There are not many times in my life that I am gobsmacked, or blown away by what someone tells me. But, just recently, I was talking with a man about the Guys read Gals project. Of course, I was trying to get him involved, but my jaw fell open when he told me, “As an illustration of the poor marketing for Australian authors I honestly can’t think of an Australian female writer off the top of my head right now.”
The man is Australian. To think that even one Australian, male or female could see the marketing of Australian authors as so poor, that there’s not one Aussie female writer he could think of to mention, astounds me. But, is this a large part of the problem? Or is this the heart of the problem? I don’t think so.
After I suggested that he went to the Australian Women Writers Challenge (AWWC) bookshelf to find a writer he could review, he did. Then he came back to me and told me that after going through 10 pages of women writers on the AWWC bookshelf, he recognised only one writer he had read. So, it sounded like he was prepared only to read someone he knew, or had been advertised. As the figures on reviews of male and female writers are so in favour of male writers, why would he know about female writers.
This has been going on for a long time in Australia; this mindset of men before women in all things, has led us to where we are today. The reason why Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin chose the pen name of Miles Franklin, is that she understood about the male centric world of her time. Unfortunately, her time is our time, still.
I hope to hear from the man above again, and see how he made out. I am not having a go at this man, and no one else should. Because, if recognition is a part of the problem, I’m sure you would agree, that small steps lead to big places, and a huge part of learning is teaching. But, how many steps has there been since Miles Franklin’s day, to today. When are we going to start heading in the right, and fair direction?
If part of the problem is recognition and awareness, lets deal with that and move onto bigger things, like involvement. We need more voices talking about this, grassroots voices. Address this imbalance between men and women on all levels by starting at the grassroots, and it will lead to a better playing field for all of us.
There is a large chunk of the male population who suffer under this male dominated world, which has produced this imbalance. Having worked in a very blokey industry (printing) for most of my life, I have seen the way many male managers treat all employees. It’s no wonder that some Australian men cannot mention a female writer, scientist, chef, or sheep farmer, because it has been drummed into them that the male world is the only world that exists.
There is a lot to be said about self-discovery and self-education, but when your peers and leaders only talk in the voice of male words, from a male dominated world, try stepping out of those boundaries and see what happens to you. People are scared to speak up and afraid to challenge for fear of losing their job, or standing in the world. People, who have fought hard to attain what they have.
The more I learn and understand about the imbalance between women and men, the more I believe we can do something about making it fairer. Because, what we put there, we can take away.
If you want to see this imbalance addressed, write to us and let us know how you can change things. Or post a review of an Australian female fiction writer. With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8th, let’s help progress the change.