“Reading shapes our moral sensibilities, and underrepresentation in the arts impoverishes our ethical understanding” -Rachel Fraser (Oxford) on our duty to read writing by women.

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We should reject the entire premise. New York Times best seller volume reached gender parity in 2001 and has floated around that point since. You can’t just point to gender imbalance of well known authors from over a century ago to suggest a problem. It simply isn’t there.


For an article trying to get me to read more books by female authors, they really don’t make a good case as to why reading a balance of male and female authors is a more valuable experience.


I rarely know anything about the author I’m reading…


I dont have a duty to read anything. I’ll read what I want to read, if it happens to be written by a woman, or a gay person, or someone who’s not white, then cool I guess. But it’s of no consequence to me who wrote something, I care if its good and if it will appeal to me. If its good it will be equally cool to me no matter who made it. I won’t change my tastes to suit ideology.


>Put otherwise, by giving a moral and conceptual shape to previously inchoate experiences, literature can expand and enrich a society’s hermeneutic resources. But when literature is dominated by white men, we are likely to end up with a set of hermeneutical resources too narrow to facilitate genuine moral understanding. If the society that we have now isn’t capable of genuine moral understanding, then we cannot know whether the people who are indignant about women and non-whites being under-represented in literature are correct or not. We cannot peak into alternate realities where people have more refined moral sensibilities than we do. I am honestly more sympathetic to the prestige allocation argument than the hermeneutic resource argument. The former gives us a herculean task. But the latter leaves us blind, with no way of knowing if the task is something that we should even attempt. Edit: I now realize that the argument the author settles on is one of how the arts shape our notion of selflessness and not the “hermeneutic resource” argument. However, that doesn’t change anything. In both cases, our current moral understanding is supposedly defective. So we can’t tell if the indignant people are right in either case. We need to assume that correct moral understanding is possible in the society that we now have before we can critique that society morally. Denying the possibility of correct moral understanding and using that to make a moral critique is sawing off the branch while you are still sitting on it.