Apparently, David Remnick Also Thinks Women Aren’t Funny

remnick.jpgBenjamin Cohen has a gender breakdown of contributors to the New Yorker‘s “Shouts & Murmurs” section. The results are extremely troubling. It seems that only 17 of the 133 authors who have appeared in “Shouts & Murmurs” since 1992 have been women. Patricia Marx is the female author who has appeared most, at seven times, but her work is occluded by Steve Martin’s 29 appearances.

So does Remnick subscribe to the Christopher Hitchens hard line? (It’s interesting to note that Hitchens’s essay also appeared in a Conde Nast magazine.) Why haven’t women been assigned to this section? And while I’m on the subject, why does Steve Martin get an interview slot at the New Yorker Festival, but not Marx? Okay, so some chick named Susan Morrison is interviewing him, because this is the 21st century and some faces have to be saved. But I’m truly astonished that the magazine which frequently published Dorothy Parker, an inarguably funny woman, seems to have reverted to some backwards 19th century idea about gender on this subject.

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5 Comments

  1. Those are some pretty striking stats, so striking, that I think it’s impossible for them to tell the story. For the percentage to be that low it almost has to be policy to not publish women or at least overtly favor men, and I can’t imagine that’s the policy.

    Also, according to this: http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=174188 Susan Morrison edits the Shouts and Murmurs section and perhaps has done so for as far back as 1997. I’d have to guess it’s more of a testament to the general stasis of the New Yorker, in that you very rarely see new voices there, than an overt sexism. It would be an institutionalized sexism, more than anything, that they don’t seem to be actively seeking out fresh, female voices.

    I’m not sure I’d paint Remnick or the magazine with such bad motives, but clearly, it’s not something they think about.

  2. You qualify who Patrica Marx is, but, in your observation about Steve Martin, you do not tell us anything more about the man than his name. Few of us, of course, need to know more than the name. I’m willing to bet that the name “Steve Martin” sells considerably more issues of The New Yorker than the name “Patricia Marx”, and any editor (or podcast producer) who wishes to raise the profile of his or her magazine (or website) would be irresponsible not to choose Martin over Marx. Gender issue, please. The lack of humour in “Apparently, David Remnick Also Thinks Women Aren’t Funny” is only surpassed by the lack of humour in a typical column of “Shouts & Murmers”.

    Also, I strongly agree with MB’s aside about “institutionalized sexism”, especially re Steve Martin’s piece about seventy-two virgins, which is so boring it could strike oil faster than most rigs. Sadly, it never does come up with anything valuable.

  3. Funny. Neither did Jim Belushi when he was on SNL; he was a drunken coke-huffing fool despite being very amusing. To be fair, most people don’t think the New Yorker is very funny – they just pretend, lest they get kicked out of whatever hip yuppie cafe they’re relaxing in.

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