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Friday, January 21, 2011
Bring Diversity to The New Yorker
Posted by: Rachel Henes
Recently, Anne Hays wrote a letter to the editors of The New Yorker expressing her outrage about the lack of female contributers to the magazine and demanding a refund for issues that feature less than five female writers. I strongly support her stance and have expanded it for myself to include the exclusion of contributers that are people of color as well. To this end, I have sent the following letter to The New Yorker:
Dear editors of the New Yorker,
I am writing to support Anne Hays in her outrage at the lack of female representation in your magazine. This is a problem that I too have long been frustrated by and it is time for some change.
Back in 10/20/09, I sent you the following email:
"I am a longtime and avid reader of the New Yorker and I am highly disturbed by your Oct 19th issue. Out of the 15 writers featured in this issue, only 2 are women! If you add in the contributers to The Talk Of The Town, you are up to a total of 3 women out of 19 writers! Additionally, there is not one female artist contributing to the drawings in the issue – and there are 16 artists listed! How is this possible? As of 2000, women made up 52% of the total population of New York City and as of 2008, 50.7% of the whole USA (US Census Bureau). This means there are endless talented female writers, critics, artists and thinkers out there – which leaves no excuse for any issue to be so devoid of female representation. For such a thoughtful magazine, this was a supremely unthinking (and male- centric) choice to make and an oversight that I truly hope is taken seriously and reflected upon." -Rachel Henes
Obviously, as Anne Hays' recent letter points out, nothing has changed since then. Women remain seriously underrepresented as both writers and artists. In fact, in the past five issues from December 13- January 17, 81 of the 90 drawings featured were done by male artists, as were all five covers of the last five issues. Often, the only women that appear in The New Yorker pages are those featured in seductive ads or cartoons. This is totally unacceptable - and sexist.
And the lack of diversity in your pages goes beyond gender - there are virtually no women or men of color contributers to the magazine. In fact, out of a total of 91 contributing writers (of which only 23% or 21 were women), only ONE writer was a woman of color (Edwidge Danicat). And out of the remaining 70 male writers, only FOUR were non-White men.
I am joining Ms. Hays and will be sending back every issue that does not have five writers that are female and/or people of color. I will be asking my friends and colleagues to join me in this effort to bring diversity to such an influential magazine. Because there are numerous talented writers and illustrators that are not White males - they are just obviously not on the radar of the editors of the New Yorker. So please expand and update your networks (and your minds) and make room for women and people of color.