Last night at the New York Salon for Women Writers
, Gina Bianchini
founder of NING, described blogging as a 21st-century avatar of a familiar, familial practice: your grandmother sending you newspaper clippings about topics of shared interest. I was struck by the comparison since sending and receiving clippings is a habit I recognize, appreciate and understand: for as long as I can remember, my father always sent me and my sister newspaper clippings when he spotted something in the New York Times
that corresponded to our interests. For my sister, it was pottery, for me, anything to do with France. All you had to do was mention something you were working on or thinking about and the next day (mail service was better then) you would receive a clipping on that very subject.
I inherited that tendency. If I see a newspaper article that I know would interest a friend, I find it impossible to resist sending it on. With one minor concession to the Internet age: although I still read the Times
on paper, I forward the articles electronically by email, instead of taking out my scissors, clipping the article, putting it into an envelope, finding a stamp for it, and carrying it to a mailbox. Full disclosure: I learned the expression for my soon-to-be outdated pleasure of daily reading a newspaper I hold in my hand from my students, who were astonished to learn that I read the newspaper “on paper,” as they put it, and not on line as they did.
So now, Kamy Wicoff, co-founder of the New York Salon with me, and creator of SHE WRITES, has asked me to take the further step of making my individual clipping service public. I made the mistake of telling her about an article that had grabbed my attention last week: “Rethinking Gender Bias in Theater.”
Patricia Cohen reports on a presentation by a young Princeton economics major, Emily Glassberg Sands, about whether women playwrights were discriminated against. Why was it that there seems to be a huge disparity between the shows on Broadway written or produced by women and shows written and produced by men? In one study, Ms. Sands sent out the same script to artistic directors and literary managers. Half of the plays bore the name of a woman author (Mary Walker), half by men (Michael Walker). The shocking discovery? Women, not men, gave Mary’s plays a lower rating. The article generated several letters to the editor, my favorite provocatively signed by Aphra Behn, the seventeenth-century dramatist
. The letter asserted that “other women” are “the biggest obstacle to feminism.”
What to make of the study? The reaction? I couldn’t resist sending the article and the letters to women playwrights I know. I’d love to hear all of your thoughts.
(Homage to Linda Nochlin, who famously asked in the early years of second-wave feminism, "Why Are There No Great Women Artists?