By Ila Ananya
We first came across a rather depressing video by a Loganberry Books, a bookstore in Ohio on Scroll.in. Women who worked in the store had got together and spent two hours reversing the display of 10,000 books by male authors (so that their spines weren’t visible), leaving only books by women authors with their spines showing.
There are no prizes for guessing what it looked like.
The video that Loganberry Books — which looks like such a beautiful second-hand bookstore — uploaded on Facebook shows almost white bookshelves. The performance art project, through which the bookstore wanted to “demonstrate the lopsided ratio of male to female authors,” also automatically brings more focus onto women authors to anyone entering the store.
According to Harriett Logan, the owner of the bookshop, who came up with the idea, said that the display was a “metaphor of silencing the male voice — at least for this month”, referring to the fact that it was Women’s History Month. It’s obviously no surprise that some men have been offended by this project–“Maybe women should start writing instead of bitching,” is one of the comments under the bookstore’s Facebook post.
I don’t remember the last time I read a book by a male author. Every time I’m in Blossoms, my favourite second-hand bookstore in Bangalore that I’ve visited since I was a child, I go straight to a corner where I know that I will only find books by women. I do gloss over a lot of books by men, but I can only imagine what Blossoms would look like if they did the same thing—I wonder what I would be able to find.
Because as Logan reportedly said, “To give the floor and attention to women, you need to be able to hear them. And if someone else is talking over them, that just doesn’t happen.”