I’m Breaking Up with The New Yorker Magazine

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Is The New Yorker Magazine sexist? I don’t want to believe it. I love The New Yorker. I’ve read it for years. But why don’t they hire more women writers? Why don’t they hire more women, period? I wrote the following piece a few months ago to deal with my grief.


My relationship with The New Yorker magazine has been like meeting an extremely handsome man wearing an expensive Italian suit. He dresses impeccably, knows all the great restaurants, the best shows to see and the goings on about town. He can have a conversation about almost anything, impressing everyone with what and who he knows.

The New Yorker MagazineIt’s a heady, whirlwind romance at first. I can’t believe how clever he is, how charismatic. While with him, I meet people I never dreamed I’d meet and have front row seats in every venue. But then after a few weeks of dating, I begin to notice that he rarely opens the doors for women. In fact, he tends to leave the toilet seat up and is selfish in bed. He seems hesitant to embrace equality and in terms of balanced gender representation, he never fails to underwhelm. He only hires two to three women writers to contribute weekly for every ten to twelve men. Though he says this is more about talent than gender, I begin to suspect that it isn’t about talent at all, and that a qualified psychotherapist might diagnose him with mother issues.

Weeks pass and I begin to realize that he is quite elitist and drops names as often as he glances in the mirror. I start to wonder: Why didn’t I see this before? Why didn’t someone warn me? Like me, other women must have been lured in by the pretty face, the impressive pedigree. The glitz, the glamour. But not everything that glitters is gold, I remind myself, asking forgiveness for the cliché. His primary talent is looking good. He could use some emotional depth. What he lacks in humility, he makes up for in hubris. Not to mention, he doesn’t know how to admit when he’s wrong.

I decide that as a public service to other women, I will try to encourage them not to make the same mistake. He’s not worth it, I’ll say. He’s behind the times. He watches Madmen reruns, for heaven’s sake, and if he and Jonathan Franzen spend any more time together I half expect them to pick out a china pattern at Tiffany’s. (If so, I’d be happy to gift them a gravy boat.)

Then after two years of hoping he will change (think two year subscription), I decide to break off the relationship, grateful for the experience, yet also wishing I hadn’t spent quite so much time and money on him in the first place….

So what about you? Do you think The New Yorker magazine is sexist? Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Should I give him a second chance? As always, I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. If you’d like to contact The New Yorker magazine and ask them to give equal representation to women writers, go here.


My latest novel: The Secret Sense of Wildflower

“…astute observations and wonderfully turned phrases, with nary a cliché to be found. She could be an adolescent Scout Finch…A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read.

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review) To read the entire Kirkus review go here.


  1. Love this!

  2. From Linked-in, where I also posted this article:

    Shelly Stinchcomb Tegen • Susan, that was so incredibly well written!! To be honest, I’ve not read The New Yorker, however based on what I just read I say bid him adieu. We cannot change others, they have to find reasons on their own to desire to change.

    And here are some comments from posting it on Google+:

    Livia EllisYesterday 10:03 AM
    I broke up with The New Yorker about a year ago. He left that toilet seat up just one too many times.
    Me: Thanks, Livia. It’s good to know I’m not alone. :)
    Nicole PylesYesterday 1:30 PM
    I haven’t read the article yet, but I’m highly suspicious second guessing myself. I say go with your gut!
    Leanne DyckYesterday 3:09 PM
    I enjoyed reading your humorous, well-written article. Thank you for sharing the link with me.
    To answer your question, I don’t read The New Yorker so it’s hard for me to judge. But, like Nicole, I advise you to go with your gut.
    Carole Di Tosti1:10 AM
    I am confused. Women writers rarely get equal representation with men in a “unisex” magazine…or in a unisex anything. The only way women writers or women for that matter get equal representation is through trial and struggle…to create their own “women’s” venue, which men then can easily ignore since they are out of the loop and don’t bother. It’s segregation, pure and simple…and women have been duped by segregation like this thinking they have been empowered…ha, ha, ha, ha. They have only collectivized with women, but they have not been empowered by men. Segregation is not power, it’s separation where one group says…fine, do what you want, but I’m not a part of it, will not fund it and will not employ it since it in no way relates to me. It takes very strong, secure, brilliant and financially comfortable men to allow women to be on equal footing with them in the same venue. It is a matter of economics, pure and simple. They will not compete with women. They have decreased the opportunities for women or eliminated them for centuries; the 20th century saw a few strides, the vote, women joining the ranks of police and fire, but not in the same capacity, and women soldiering, but not in the same capacity. Now, things have actually worsened in the attitudes of men toward women about “equal” pay and “equal opportunity,” spurred on by right wing idealogues. So I don’t get it. Why would things be different in the publishing world? Fierce competition now more than ever in publishing? Women get short changed. Boycotting The New Yorker is a good idea. I’ve done it for years…and am not boycotting TV. See why on my blog, The Fat and the Skinny on Wellness.
    Me: I love these comments! I’m feeling some sisterhood here. Thanks so much. I think I’ve made the right decision. Gut, head and heart agree.
    Carole: Thanks Susan. In rereading what I wrote, I see that I made a mistake…a “not.” I am boycotting TV for the images they endorse about women…is having to fit a stereotype which is impossible, the underweight BMI. Such stereotypes have encouraged the men to lust after certain body types (skinny) that few women as they age are able to maintain because of weight gain, menopause, etc. These discriminatory stereotypes obviate hispanic women and black women who tend to be heavier. You know the drill. So…

  3. And here’s an email from a friend:
    Susan, I took the liberty of sharing your TNY piece with some friends…
    Here is what my friend Patty said:
    Bravo for Susan! A very entertaining criticism while cleverly getting to the down dirty. The New Yorker should hire her to clean up their act by delivering a few more messages about humility with the hopes of moving them into the 21st century. (yeah, I know they took great pride in being the very last publication in NY to go digital.) She sure has the wit to keep them on their toes, and her bites are subtle (well really not so subtle) and well placed.

  4. At one time I might have been embarrassed to admit I’ve never read TNY. Not only that, I have never had an interest in perusing it at all. Now, after reading what you wrote about it, I firmly stand by my suspicions while clutching my Mother Earth News closer to my breast and giving The Writer a little kiss.

  5. You have that many people following you on Google+?? I am awed.

  6. Hi Karen,
    You are the wise one, indeed. The New Yorker subscription was actually a birthday gift a couple of years ago from my dear mother-in-law who has been reading it for decades. Even she has noted their decline, yet was unaware that it was male-dominated in terms of content. But she grew up in a different era. Thanks for your witty comment!

  7. I live to awe you, John. 😉

  8. From email subscribers: “Hi Susan, I’ve always felt The New Yorker was elite. As you say, the elite ones are so handsome and so well-spoken, but are they soulful or heartfelt. William F. Buckley comes to mind. Alex”


    “Oh, I loved this! So well expressed and so true.”

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