Do you think there should still be literary prizes just for women, such as the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction? Is having a separate category for women setting back the clock on gender equality or helping the cause?
Talking about Literary Prizes for Women Only
Sometimes, I wonder about literary prizes for solely women. Thus, I want to put it out there to you, the readers.
For example, consider the Baileys Prize. It’s offical name is Baileys Woman’s Prize for Fiction. It has good intentions by celebrating excellence and originality in women authors around the world.
But, is singling out women with literary prizes, such as the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, hurting the female gender rather than being helpful? Doesn’t gender equality in its purest sense mean not differentiating between different prizes for each gender? Isn’t that what women like Seiko Noda have been fighting for?
About the Baileys Prize
Interestingly, the original name for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. Read that again. There was no mention of the female gender in the original title. Maybe that’s why I just call it Baileys Prize; there’s no gender mention then.
On the other hand, maybe women do need special mention with literary prizes. Supporters of this idea would likely say that women are massively under-represented in shortlisted books for literary prizes. Indeed, that’s the reason that the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was created. As per the Baileys Prize site:
“The inspiration was the Booker Prize of 1991 when none of the six shortlisted books was by a woman, despite some 60 percent of novels published that year being by female authors.”
And, so, that award for women was born. And, yes, female under-representation in literary prize nominations is appalling.
Helping Gender Equality… or Not
But, here’s the thing. Maybe treating women special, with different rules than men, in this situation using certain awards to women authors, is suggesting that women need help or assistance in some way. It could be sending the message that only when men leave the room can we cheer women’s efforts.
Unfortunately, that makes women’s feats in female-only literary prizes less worthy than those of the men who win literary prizes open to all genders.
So, here’s the thing. There still isn’t total gender equality in many parts of society today. But I don’t think that giving women special treatment with literary awards is going to solve the problem in the writing field.
As a female author myself, with two books written so far, I do hope that gender equality will happen while I’m alive. But, I don’t know if it will become a reality as soon as that.
Your Thoughts on Literary Prizes Solely for Women
Do you think that having literary prizes open only to women is helping or hurting the goal of reaching gender equality? Please share your thoughts in the comments area below.