Wikipedia sux

I won’t try to hide my hatred of wikipedia. Ok, fine, I like it as a consolidated database for just about anything and a good place to start a research project. But there are inherent problems with the idea of it. It’s newest problem: there are too many American novelists with vaginas. Wikipedia is currently in the midst of a project to remove all female American novelists from the list of American writers and put them on a list called “American women novelists.”

The explanation at the top of the page is that the list of “American Novelists” is too long, and therefore the novelists have to be put in subcategories whenever possible.

Kudos to Americans for producing so many novels, but I can think of a million more relevant subcategories to use to divide American novelists. What about by genre? What about by time period? What about by region in the US they are from? What about by who made the NTY Best Seller’s List? You know, perhaps a meaningful distinction in the list other than just anatomy that might even tell us something about the book. Do you really care about the genitals of the writer when you’re picking up a new book? Do you read George Eliot?

I think one of the reason I am so upset about this is because of the whole idea of a “George Eliot.” The Brontes also wrote under masculine pen names. As did Louisa May Alcott. This is not an issue only from the 1800s. Joanne Rowling wrote under the androgynous initials “J.K.” because publishers didn’t think boys would buy her books otherwise.

Of course, on the wikipedia talk page, women are reminded to take that girl power stuff someplace else.

How does it not have the effect of “othering” women? How is it is not a reminder that women aren’t full participants in publishing? Or the rest of the country?

About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
This entry was posted in Feminist issues, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Wikipedia sux

  1. Heather says:

    This is so lame. Sigh.

    • emmawolf says:

      It’s pretty infuriating. I realize that in the vast scheme of things, ok, so being on a different list isn’t such a big deal. But it says so much more than that. It touches on the raw nerve of history that women didn’t belong in the work force.

  2. shindancer says:

    Speechless. Seriously. There are no words.

    • emmawolf says:

      I’m kind of entertained by the irony of your comment. Even if you had words, it wouldn’t be enough. American women have filled books with words, and people forked over their hard earned cash to be entertained by them. But it still not enough to be considered a real novelist.

  3. spiegelmama says:

    I wonder how different the world would be now if the ERA had passed? The patriarchy that apparently runs Wikipedia would have had 40 years to get used to women thinking they were people. Maybe that would have helped. Grrr…

    • emmawolf says:

      *nods* I don’t think the ERA is a panacea that will solve all our problems, but I think you phrase it well: we would have had 40 years of people getting used to that radical notion that women are full participants in the country.

  4. Piper George says:

    I wonder sometimes if this will ever end.

    BTW, I nominated you for an award, I hope you don’t mind.

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