“23 Writers with Messages for Straight White Male Publishing”


An anonymous commenter recently suggested:

I read the comparison here before, but the highbrow antiwhite zeitgeist percolating through elite cultures now has a similar tone as the anti-Semitism in 1890s Germany.

The comparison is not perfect of course, but the white privilege conferences, books of poetry, and of course the lowbrow click bait have a similar feel and tone as Cosima Wagner’s salon. The talk then was of a “Jewish spirit”; now it’s whites supposed unconscious microaggressions which make them loathsome; it is the building of a case against a people.

On the other hand, today’s ever-growing ideology of anti-Straight White Maleism tends toward pompous absurdity. For example, from Buzzfeed:

23 Writers With Messages For Straight White Male Publishing

posted on April 16, 2015, at 11:33 a.m.

Isaac Fitzgerald

(Isaac Fitzgerald is a straight white male in publishing, by the way.)

We asked attendees at the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference if they had any messages for the predominantly white publishing industry. Here are their answers.


Susan Orlean (played by Meryl Streep in Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation”)

Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon in Nick Hornby’s “Wild”)

Franny Choi (not played by anybody in anything; would probably kill to have, say, David O. Russell or Alexander Payne write a screenplay of her life story)

Publishing is definitely a white business, but male and straight? From Publishers Weekly:

Where the Boys Are Not

Does the lack of men in publishing hurt the industry?

By Rachel Deahl | Sep 20, 2010

It’s no secret that lots of women work in publishing. But just how many more women work in publishing than men? In PW’s recent Salary Survey (Aug. 2) one statistic stuck out: 85% of publishing employees with less than three years of experience are women.

Survey Responses by Gender

Total Responses: 1,584

70% Female 30% Male

Under 3 Years Experience: 164

85% Female 15% Male

3 to 6 Years Experience: 388

82% Female 18% Male

So, while everyone knows there are more women than men working in this field, that statistic raises the question: is an almost all-female publishing industry bad for business? Does it matter?

Jason Pinter, a former editor at St. Martin’s Press (as well as Random House and Warner Books) and now an agent at the Waxman Agency, is one of the few people who’s publicly aired his opinion that it probably does matter. In a piece for the Huffington Post that ran in April, Pinter railed against the notion that men don’t read and wondered out loud if part of the problem has to do with so few men working in the business.

Pinter said that after he wrote the HuffPo item he was inundated with e-mails from librarians and teachers about societal issues with getting boys to read, and many thought curriculums were weighted toward girls. So do women and girls, who buy the most books, read more because people like them are acquiring and marketing their books?

Although Pinter reiterated to PW that he’s worked with “a lot of brilliant women in editorial” and readily acknowledged that they can and do publish books that interest men, he couldn’t help wondering if an industry so weighted toward the female side wouldn’t produce a different set of books than one a bit more diverse. “I hope it doesn’t get worse—if 85% [of the industry is female]—it’s hard to think that acquisitions aren’t in some way affected by that.”

Part of what David Coleman and Bill Gates are trying to do with their Common Core and new SAT is make reading less girly by decreasing the amount of fiction about feelings and replacing it with nonfiction about facts. For example, the sample new PSAT released this week has 9 reading samples, 8 of which are nonfiction (and the one excerpt from a novel is by Jane Austen, the most masterful of female stylists).

… Gatta said people tend to think a field like nursing, which employs far more women than men, requires someone who’s caring, and a caring nature is stereotypically associated with women. The assumption then becomes, wrongly, Gatta said, that “women are naturally more caring, so women make better nurses.” Could a similar thing be happening in publishing? “Often when a field is considered a ‘female job’ it doesn’t get on the radar screens [of men],” Gatta added. So the stereotype—that women are better at and more interested in reading—could certainly be, in Gatta’s terminology, a “huge barrier” in getting men to even consider a career in books.

Or it’s probable that women really are a little more caring and are better at reading, but stereotypes and culture push things a little further than they would go on natural talent and inclinations alone, just as blacks are better than whites at basketball on average, but it seems likely from examining which whites make it to the NBA (foreign players and Northwesterners, disproportionately) that a certain number of whites get bullied out of basketball at an early age by black dominance. It’s not a huge deal, but it would be pretty silly for black NBA stars to hold up signs denouncing straight white male dominance of NBA rosters.

Further, publishing, which is overwhelmingly concentrated in Manhattan, is a disproportionately gay male business. So, the straight white male proportion of the publishing business is probably, in the 20%-25% range, maybe less.

So, a lot of anti-Straight White Maleism is just mindless bullying for the sake of mindless bullying.