Rage and outrage are wonderful motivators, especially when aimed at a wrong so embedded in our society that it has become the norm. Our rage and outrage are paired with a desire to preserve women’s voices. Voices that have been neglected, ignored, not taken seriously, and systematically erased from history. As Nicola Griffith put it:
“Women’s voices are not being heard. Women are more than half our culture, if half the adults in our culture have no voice, half the world’s experience is not being attended to, learnt from, or built upon. Humanity is only half what we could be.”
The mission of Women and Books is to not only get rid of the eraser, but to restore as many women’s voices from the past as possible. The eraser of women's voices is, of course, the bias that set the standard of writing to be the male voice. Kate Mosse, the founder of the Women's Prize for Fiction, stated, “Literature with a capital L is still not seen as a neutral literary voice if it is women writing from their own point of view.”
Removing the eraser means re-educating the way readers approach books written by women, bringing male bias—both unconscious and overt—not only to the forefront, but to confront and engage it when we come face to face with it. We need a primer for women to know how to respond when a male reader says things like, “I wouldn't have read your book if I’d known a women had written it” or “I don’t read books by women because they’re too emotional.”
We’re filled with rage every time we think about a woman author writing a book, getting it published, and expecting it to have an equal opportunity for reviews, awards, etc. and being innocent of the fact that both the publishing industry and literary history are stacked against her. We need her to know that it’s not her writing, but her gender that’s the problem. She needs to know that she can be a part of the solution to that problem instead of just one more victim.
The women behind Women and Books are librarians, educators, editors, publishers, enthusiastic readers . . . We’re passionate about putting literature by women in its rightful place in society—equally accepted, reviewed, awarded, and read alongside literature by male writers. We hope to attract like-minded women who can help keep our lists current and contribute their stories, essays, reviews, critiques, and general observations to this site. It is our collective knowledge that forms the foundation for women's literature and keeps it alive for future generations.