It must be fun to sit back in a well-worn leather chair, single-malt in hand, and pontificate about the state of literature and gender politics while getting one’s drunk on. All the way from merry old England we bring you Port, a self-described “global quarterly men’s magazine,” which recently lit up the Twitter feeds and blogosphere with its pronouncement of a “New Golden Age of magazine publishing,” featuring seven of the biggest magazine editors in America.
The fact that all seven editors are waspish white guys had a lot of women and a good number of men pretty upset that not a single woman or person of color made their little club. Plenty of the more journalistically minded magazines and web sites, such as The Atlantic and Huffpo responded with scathing criticisms of Port’s judgment (or is that prejudgment?).
As you can guess, I take Port’s proclamation for just what it is: a gust of pseudo-journalistic halitosis, bourgeois blowhardery at its very hardest. After all, in those same gin-soaked pages Port has the chutzpah to proclaim that glossy, printed magazines are making a comeback! Wow! I just love reading such unbiased reportage. Yes, here’s Port, giving us the inside scoop, poo-pooing the rise of the internet and e-zines, and predicting the shining future of glossy, printed magazines—and oh by the way we just happen to publish a glossy, printed magazine. Well, if you blokes say so, it must be true. (Good lord, how gullible do you think the average reader is? Don’t answer that, I’m afraid to know.)
But all this is not to say I’m holding hands in solidarity with the ladies of VIDA, who take pains each year to point out that the literary country club is run by a closed circle of Port-like chauvinist pigs.
I’ve blogged before about the limitations in the VIDA “study.” While they do have a point to make about the top tiers of publishing being virtually closed to women, there’s more to the situation. A lot more. Check out the mastheads of a vast majority of literary journals and you’ll find that they’re more than 60 percent women. It’s an issue that deserves far more scrutiny than just tracking a dozen or so magazines. And if anything the bigger issue is the lack of minorities in all aspects of American literature. But that’s a systemic, educational and class issue, and few talk about those things anymore, especially during an economic downturn.
But let’s tack back to Port. Gents, you’re just not helping. Debate on any issue should be a balance, not a polemic. Why does modern discourse so often devolve into unilateral babble, where made-up “facts” are presented as truth, and acknowledgement of the other side’s arguments ist verboten? From within your paneled cloister does it really seem like the only good editor is an old white guy? Please, look up from the glossy broadsheets clutched in your pale, wrinkled hands and take a look at the rest of the world. Pack your prejudices away in an old portmanteau. We don’t need them. They’re not helping and neither are you.
Hey, it ain’t easy criticizing both sides in an issue, but sometimes someone’s got to do it.
 Well, compared to Port, Huffpo is like The Congressional Record.
 Chutzpah? Nah, they probably don’t like Jews either.
 I know, I tabulated the names in about 200 journals.