“The backhanded compliment I get [from male sellers] is, ‘You found your niche,’” she says with a shake of the head and a cocked eye. “And then I say, ‘Women are not a niche, but yes, I have.’”
Someone finally examined how often male authors recommend books by women, and the numbers are pretty depressing.
If a man excuses himself so comprehensively from exposure to any book which is written by or for women, on the basis that the subject matter and treatment will not be up to his expectations, I think that while he has a perfect right to do so, he’s making an unacceptable statement. And perhaps he shouldn’t make it out loud.
When Elizabeth Crawford became a rare book dealer, setting up her first stand at a monthly fair in London in 1984, she was not the only woman in the room, but she was, she recalls, "on her own in the room" -- women booksellers were, and still are, often accompanied by their spouses or partners in bookselling.
A few years back, I read a children’s book about the moon landing to my then-3-year-old daughter. It’s a great book in so many ways. But one thing stood out to me: Men. Men, men, men. The word men over and over, in glowing terms, and nowhere a mention of anybody else.
Let’s be honest: you are not “well read” if you don’t read women. You cannot consider yourself a man of letters if you leave the women of letters on the bookshop shelf.
The 50-odd books that I have read by women in 2018 continue to delight, exasperate and bore in pretty much the same proportion as all the books I have read before. Sentences are no clunkier or more sparkling because of the writer’s gender. But as the number of female voices in my life has expanded, one thing is very different. No one is trying to explain women to me. Female characters and viewpoints suddenly simply exist: whether flawed or flaming, badly drawn or richly nuanced. There they are without spin. Unexplained. Unfiltered. Understood.
When I began teaching Little Women in my American literature survey courses, I wondered how many of my students had read the book before. In that first class, only one said she had read it in high school. A few of the women had been given the book to read as girls. None of the men had read it.
"The cultural default is to treat men as voices of authority and wisdom while relegating women to the role of mere consumers whose opinions are given little weight. That problem is not easily reducible to numbers.
Children’s books devoted to women scientists were virtually non-existent for decades upon decades until, in the year 2000, a light went on in the industry, and the past nineteen years have seen a veritable explosion in books available about the rich history of women researchers.