In Which I Criticize Gender-Based Publishing

Writing at PJ Media, I have criticized the decision of a small British publishing house to publish only women writers for the year 2018. I argue from both an economic and moral standpoint:

The implicit admission is that the publisher does not, on average, find the women writers who send them their manuscripts to be as good as the men: if it did, there would be no need for this pledge, as the proportion of women writers in its output would already be higher than it is, if not as high as it would be if the company adopted a women-only policy. In promising to publish only women under these special circumstances, the publisher is demonstrating that it would not do so under normal circumstances.

One could argue in return that the problem is a general lack of submissions from women writers, not just lower rates of acceptance. Still, unless every woman who submits a manuscript is accepted automatically, this excuse doesn’t hold: And Other Stories is normally willing to reject women writers, even when they submit at much lower rates than men.


There is no way to disprove the theory of “structural discrimination”: the alleged oppression has been moved to a level of abstraction that shields it from all empirical evidence. Thus there is no way of knowing when the “oppression” has been eradicated. What exclusionary measure, then, would not be permissible during the never-ending struggle? Once you submit to the basic logic, it’s hard to resist the more creative applications of it. What if many companies in many sectors began pledging to hire only women for a year? What if, to correct perceived “structural” imbalances in healthcare outcomes, a clinic decided it would accept only patients of a particular racial or ethnic group? And what if this were a matter of law and public policy, rather than of private enterprise? How could a supporter of gender-based publishing possibly oppose these measures, if their purpose is to correct structural injustice? It isn’t surprising that those who believe in collective victimhood also believe in collective punishment.

What do you think?

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