Tom Laughlin, in the comments to an earlier post, writes:
Amidst all this talk about discrimination and sexism in American theatre on so many levels, I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts about the relative lack of female theatre critics and bloggers. I went through your blogroll this morning, and my unscientific poll revealed that 29 of the bloggers listed are male, 12 female (one blog is a male/female partnership, but even though the male seems to write more I gave it to the female). And apparently all the blogger/critics who write or have written for the NYC press are male (Cote, Jacobs, RWK, Teachout, Isherwood, etc.). Since the internet is open to all, why is this particular phenomenon happening? I'd be interested in your take on this matter. TIA. -twl
(First off, forgive my acronym ignorance, but does TIA mean thanks in advance? thai initiative accumulate? torridness is awesome?.. it took me the better part of amonth to figure out what RTWT means, it's just something I'm bad at)
Anyway, it's a good question. I should just say my own blog roll is a really bad determinant here, as I would gladly and freely admit I have a terrible blogroll. I hate updating it. I basically only add new blogs to it when people e-mail me to ask if I'd add them to the blogroll. Every four months or so I think Today is the day I redo my blogroll! And then I never do it. So if you're a blogger wondering why you're not on my blogroll, I apologize in advance. E-mail me if you want to be on it at parabasisnyc[at]gmail[dot]com if it really irks ya and i'll put you on it.
i don't know, in other words, if there's a dearth of female theatre blog writers. most of the ones i read are, now that i come to think about it, by men. i don't know if that means that most of the ones being written are by men, but it's also worth differentiating between blogging and being a paid critic. For the part, anyone can start a blog without anyone else's permission or hiring them to do it. If there are fewer female (or Black or Asian or anything else) bloggers on a particular subject, it reflects something different than if there are fewer female critics at daily newspapers.
As to the other point... there are very few female first string critics in this country, and the point's been raised a few places (most recently on a dramaturgy listserv discussion of the gender bias study). In New York, there's Elisabeth Vincentelli and Linda Winer (for the Post and Newsday respectively) that I can think of off the top of my head. Some places-- like Backstage-- I'm really unclear who the first stringer is.
Many places have female second (or even third) stringers or regular freelances. Clearly, this is an issue. And, like the race of critics issue, it probably has some impact on the shape of the theatre scene. But I think, just like how beauty magazines both promote unreasonable beauty expectations of women and take advantage of those already existing expectations to make money, it's a pretty circular issue.
I agree, fwiw (what does that mean? five wookies inside Waziristan??) that this is a problematic state of affairs. i don't know what to do about it necessarily.