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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Discussions not worth having

 Guy on facebook: "When I read the NYRB I visit a world in which only men have opinions."

Me: "I have been reading it for decades, and have been following many writers like Marcia Angell, Helen Epstein, Helen Vendler, Joan Didion, Diane Johnson, Alma Guillermoprieto, etc..." [thinking: these are literally the most opinionated people ever, and in a good way, going back to one of the founding members, Elizabeth Hardwick).  

Him: "It doesn't invalidate a critique like this to point out that something is not 100% white male."  

Me [thinking]: You literally said that women are a non-existent (or negligible) part of the tradition and current incarnation of this journal. Since this mag was and is a major vehicle for all of these public intellectuals, you are essentially writing all of them out of history.  

Yes, it's a biased, New York intellectual kind of rag, an extension of Partisan Review, etc... Everyone knows exactly what it is and has been, its exact strengths and weaknesses. I think having Simic review Creeley is unforgivable. But a world in which only men have opinions? I think not. 


Leslie B. said...

I think he'd say all of those are patriarchal women, tokens, upholders of tradition, something like this, they're actually men, etc.

Phaedrus said...

I would guess that the "guy on Facebook" is simply ignorant. Virtually every issue has several articles by women. And historically: Don't forget the great Janet Malcolm! (Just a few issues back, BTW, our former grad school classmate Coco Fusco had a piece published there - "Decolonizing the Museum.")

Jonathan said...

and of course, the inevitable reference to "look who's defending the NYRB on facebook" (i.e. white men of my age.). Sigh.

Andrew Shields said...

That guy on FB definitely misses the great tradition of women writing for the NYRB.

But I've been a subscriber since the 1990s, and the magazine – like so many others – definitely has a lot more men than women writing for it (both regularly and as one-time contributors).