Crude . . . It’s a Compliment

Ralfi let his breath out explosively and began to laugh, exposing teeth that hadn’t been kept up to the Chriatian White standard. The she turned the disruptor off.“Two million,” I said.“My kind of man,” she said, and laughed. “What’s in the bag?”“A shotgun.”“Crude.” It might have been a compliment.

That’s William Gibson’s “Johnny Mnemonic” and I like it. Smart, articulate, clever people are sometimes so smart, articulate, and clever that they fail to see that sometimes crude solutions are the best ones. Which I mention by way of introducing Ann Friedman’s column on “The Byline Gender Gap”. She’s hardly the first person to have noticed that even in the progressive media there seem to be very few women publishing things. Nor does she have an especially novel analysis of why this is the case. Indeed — and here’s where the meritorious crudeness starts to come into play — she doesn’t do much analysis of why it’s the case at all. She just sees a big problem and proposes a crude solution: “I’ve come to believe that a target percentage for women’s bylines should be set in the editorial policies of each publication, at least in the short term.”

I think she’s right. This is obviously not the most abstractly elegant fix, but I don’t think resolutions to do better in the future will have much impact unless they result in a reasonably clear operational rule of the sort suggested here.