So now I can say that I mostly agree with Stephanie and Juliana's essay. (And I found myself puzzled, for mostly the same reasons they did, by both the claims and the conclusions drawn from them, in Jennifer Ashton's.)
Like Stephanie and Juliana, I'm surprised by the numbers.
I especially identify with their questions/remaining uncertainties, including their assertion that the numbers alone tell only one story, and that even statistical equity would not necessarily indicate that "feminism is irrelevant or outdated or just plain over or boring or pathetic or whiny" or that a 50/50 ratio in the mags/anthologies/prizes "necessarily means that these things are feminist or progressive." And when they said "we had a constant feeling that we had better and more exciting, i.e. non-gender specific, work that we wished we could be doing," I was like I KNOW!
The most important part of their article though (which they also say themselves--how could anybody miss that?) is not the number crunching but the owning up--to our own ambivalences about what feminism is or does or should be or should do, our complicity and "first-world privilege," and our failure(s) to be the change we wish to see in the world.*
And when I say "our" I do definitely mean "my."
The essay ends with a call for suggestions about how poets and/or communities of poets can do more to engage the living/working conditions of women in a national/international arena.
That's a good fucking question (which a handful of people attempt to answer in the last section of the piece, including Kasey, Anne, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Eileen Myles, &tc.)
I'm gonna keep thinking about that.
To order a copy of this issue of the Chicago Review (
* Uh, to quote Gandhi as quoted by the issue of Yoga Journal I flipped through on the ellipitical this morning.
UPDATE! The Chicago Review has made the essays available on their website (linked above). Rocking. (Be sure to read the notes too, particularly the methodology section, which addresses already some of the issues raised in a few responses elsewhere.)