In Sarah Vap’s newest, The End of the Sentimental Journey, a vivisection of language, gender, and poetics, she writes at one point about the severing of a dog’s vocal cords during scientific experiments to prevent the dog from barking. In the silence, those conducting experiments were able to avoid hearing the dog express pain and fear and begin pretending it did not feel at all. She compares this to human to human interaction and to the way minority communities are forcibly silenced to offer the privileged majority a reprieve.
Silencing of a community on mass scales, in turn, encourages complacency and denigration of our human rights. For So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art I wrote about what the feminist literary community is doing to bring those voices back into the conversation. I wrote about the work of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and the efforts of its volunteers. You can read the entire article here and here.
In the wake of the two Supreme Court decisions undermining women’s health and safety, we need you now more than ever. If you would like to be a part of the social revolution working toward gender parity in publishing, here are some objectives you can consider:
● It’s an old saying, “Knowledge is power.” Now you know, how will you respond? First and foremost we need to start a dialogue about these numbers on large scale terms. That is why VIDA has recently launched our member-supported private forums, as a troll-free environment for people to speak about diversity, respond to the numbers, and also (maybe most importantly) meet new allies. To learn more about participating in our forums visit here.
● Some concerned writers have cancelled subscriptions and written letters demanding change to editors whose numbers showed to be very problematic. Read Lorraine Berry’s open letter to Harper’s for inspiration and tips on language usage.
● If writing a letter or cancelling your subscription isn’t for you, consider exercising your purchasing power to buy a subscription to a journal who IS actively concerned with gender parity and diversity within their pages. I have begun a new regular column on VIDAweb.org called “Spotlight On!” celebrating just these journals. Visit my column for ideas. Purchasing a subscription from these journals will help them continue to do their good work.
● Be aware of the gender diversity on your own bookshelves. Be active in broadening the range of stories in your home. VIDA Jessica Reidy wrote a terrific piece on “Gypsy” women writers that has loads of potential reading material.
● Read what others have to say about VIDA in the press and start forming your own unique opinions on how you would like to react to gender inequality in all sectors, not just within the literary community. (I curate this list, so if you find yourself writing about VIDA please share with me the link to your article).
● VIDA’s mission focuses on gender diversity, but is also concerned with ethnic, racial, sexual diversity (among many other identifications) and wants you to contribute to the planning conversation on how to accurately count writers of these identifications in the journals VIDA currently tallies.
● Submit your work! This cannot be reinforced enough! Write your stories! Share your stories! Submit, revise, submit again women, men, trans*, people of color, EVERYBODY! Submitting takes bravery, and you are brave.
● Stop by the VIDA website for our latest articles, which are published on a rolling basis and contact firstname.lastname@example.org with a proposal if you are interested in writing something for the site. Introduce yourself, tell us about your publications, ask questions and for advice, participate and mentor! You are welcome at VIDA!