Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What? A Women's Journal? In This Day and Age?

Yes. That's right. WAQ is a women's art journal living in a post-feminist world. Perhaps, some might think this is an antiquated thing we're doing--providing women artists with a forum solely for them. But we believe there is still a need for women to have their work read without gender prejudice. There's no denying that the publishing atmosphere today is leagues different than the one in which Gertrude Stein published, but with new times come new problems, and today we battle against preconceived notions about our work. You see, we women do quite well now in the world of art and literature; we sell books, we perform and exhibit our work in the best of venues. But one thing remains in the world of journals that doesn't sit well with us and it is the labeling of our work as "women's art" or "women's writing." Have you heard of Sex and the City? Bridget Jones's Diary? Of course you have because these works belong to the popular genre of writing often dubbed "chick lit." WAQ was created by two female artists who happen to find the term unsavory. Why can't our work just be seen as . . . well, our work? It is the belief of the founders of this journal that women shouldn't have to fight the preconceived notion that our work is about female problems that only interest females. As a fiction writer, I can tell you that I have never once written a story with a female audience in mind; I write about people--our desires, our failures, our secrets, our relationships--and my only goal is be better every day at what I do.

When composer and harpsichordist  Barbara Harbach approached me in 2010 about starting a women's art journal, I'll admit, I didn't immediately see the point of limiting submitters to one gender, but Barbara, whose decades of experience in the art world have made her far wiser than me, knew something I didn't yet know: no matter what magazine editors may say, men still get published far more often than women (exhibit A) . Add to that the problem that the work of women artists is often marketed by gender--an irritant that male artists do not have to deal with. It was with these things in mind that we decided to create a forum where women could show their work and have it be all about the work. Because we only accept submissions from women, our decisions about whether or not to accept works are solely based on craft and creativity. You could liken us to an all-girls school: take away the distraction, take away the labels, and the work becomes the focus.

All that being said, WAQ is not only for women; WAQ is for all people. We have male editors on our staff and male contributors who write about women's art. You'll never see so-called feminist rants in our pages because that's not the kind of work we accept. Our purpose is to simply provide an underrepresented group with another forum. Above all, we hope that WAQ entertains and delights you, makes you think. We hope it's good, even great--something you deem worthy of reading.

Until next time,

Lindsay Shadwell
Managing Editor
WomenArts Quarterly Journal

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