OK, so I had to jig this title around a little to make it fit for the A to Z blogging challenge. The Orange has now been renamed the Women’s prize for fiction.
As both a female and a new writer, I’m not quite sure how I feel about an award specifically created for female authors, and I’m sure this is a blog post that will invoke strong views in both camps, so I’m steeling myself for the comments. I’m even more steeled up than I was for my Marketing post on Monday!
You see, my problem is, although I’m a feminist in the way a female believes in equality, I find it difficult to swallow the fact that I may need an extra distinction for being female. After all, there isn’t technically a Male fiction prize and argument on the side for having the previously named Orange prize, will say that’s exactly what the Booker was in 1991. My stance is, it happened, it may or may not have been steeped in prejudice, but it isn’t a male award.
The second problem is, as I’m writing this, I’m actually researching it, and I have the figures, and it’s not particularly good. From 1991 onward we have 22 winners of the Booker award. Do you want to know the how many were men and how many were women? (You have to say yes here.)
There have been 15 male recipients of the prize and 7 female winners. 2 to 1 in favour of the men. Hardly giving me grounds for a solid argument for fairness and equality is it? But that’s the thing. The word equality. It makes me grit my teeth in annoyance that something like this is needed in today’s world. As women, are we not shooting ourselves in the foot, trying to stand on level ground at the same time as saying we need a leg up, or at least a distinction for gender?
I’m sure there are a lot of very intelligent people who can put it into words why something like this is both necessary and important, I just don’t get it. I think fabulous women writers should keep fighting for their right to be up there with the men, not segregating themselves and suggesting it’s OK not be listed because they have their own prize anyway. And please don’t think I only believe this about the literary world. I see the same thing happen in the workplace and I still don’t like it. I want to get where ever I’m going on my work alone, regardless of which side I fasten my jeans. This may make me naive and idealistic, but it feels quite ingrained in me.
What are your thoughts on gender orientated prizes in the literary world, or anywhere for that matter?