Gender inequality in the arts

Over at the web site goodereader.com (never heard of it before today) a post compiles comments from female authors who are able to pursue a writing career because of their husbands’ financial support. For example…

“Writing did come late to me, long after a many times disrupted career as a painter. I have worked different jobs, a few years as a midwife, studied art, became a mother of four and now I write in my spare time. My husband is financially supportive but kind of questions the writing stuff. Our youngest is still in school and after almost 25 years of working at home and from home I do feel I ‘earned’ the time I so desperately need to be creative. I take my husband’s reluctant sponsorship anytime and thankfully we are able to manage our humble life. Neither do I complain nor do I feel guilty. But boy do I hope this book will be published.”

It’s reasonable to ask how many male authors have a similar set up. That said, the article makes a decent point…

Every bestseller list is dominated by women and this is primarily due to their competitive edge. They can simply keep on writing, while being financially supported by their husbands. Some women feel guilty about this, while others see it as their husbands [sic] responsibly [sic] to be the breadwinner of the family.

I myself have wondered whether the book market is corrupted by this kind of patronage. Are the price of books driven downward because many authors are willing to produce at a loss (one supplanted by their spouses’ incomes?)

I’ve actually seen something similar in the world of music though with a gender twist. When I was in the L.A. country music scene there were a couple of guys (who shall remain nameless) who seemed to have no problem putting out quality albums year after year, often featuring top-shelf players. I was always unclear on how they made this work. Were good session musicians donating their time simply because they were impressed with the songwriting? Were these guys managing to simply sell way more albums than I was? I finally started to hear that at least some of these guys had wives with great incomes. While the wives may not have been supporting their husbands music careers, the need to put food on the table was certainly mitigated.

I suppose it has always been this way and probably always will be.

  1. No Comments