Your Money, Your Morals: When Should You Boycott a Publication?

The 2013 VIDA: Women in Literary Arts count is out! For years, VIDA (which is not an acronym and does not stand for anything, except justice) has created brightly colored provocative pie charts to illustrate the gender disparity in publishing. Maybe you’ve noticed that the New Yorker’s table of contents is dominated by dude-writers? In 2013, the disparity was pronounced: a whopping 75% of contributors to that august publication, and several others of its ilk, were male:

Drumroll for the 75%ers: The Atlantic, London Review of Books, New Republic, The Nation, New York Review of Books (actually holding steady at 80% men for four years) and New Yorker. We get it: you’re mighty, unmovable giants.

Some titans have made progress, such as the New York Times Book Review and The Paris Review, so forward-movement is possible! And to speed such movement along, VIDA encourages those of us who care about keeping America’s intellectual life diverse to vote with our pocketbooks:

Support presses that support women writers. Cancel subscriptions to publications that have no real interest in women’s voices.

Which is where I pause. I mean, yes, totally, of course! Except … I love and cling to my New Yorker. It has kept me company on countless trains and has been, for nearly a decade of life in the big city, my gold standard for #longform journalism. I want it to be better, yes, I count the women in the Table of Contents every issue before I start reading, but I read on, even if I first stop to shake my head.

No matter what my principles, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped giving my money to anything I really enjoyed: I don’t Kick Coke, because Diet Coke is my lifeblood, and I still shop (the sale racks) at Anthropologie when I want to feel pretty. I don’t open my wallet for McDonalds or Wallmart, but that’s because I have the luxury of other options. No Virtue points for me there.

Have you thrown out your Soda Stream? Is the feeling of moral clarity worth the loss of homemade seltzer? How do you decide what to boycott, if anything?

PS: Hi! I’m Ester and am excited to be your guest editor for the next few days. Lemme know if there’s anything specific you want me to cover.

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