You probably read about the recent controversy over gender specific pages on Wikipedia after it was discovered that the site had created a separate category of American Women Novelists.

Amanda Filipacchi was right to highlight this as an illustration  of sexist attitudes;  arguing that novels by women should not be viewed as a genre category.

It appears the Wikipedia  back- peddled quickly as a damage limitation exercise.

I have always been convinced that there was nothing to gain from distinguishing between male and female  contributions to the world of  music, films, art and literature.

My view is that these creative works should be judged on their own merits without reference to gender.

However,  I also recognise that this argument would be even stronger if  equal opportunities were more widespread. Sadly, it seems that, too often, creative works by men are held in higher esteem as if they were automatically more serious and worthy.

I realised that there was another side to the coin following the discovery of  the excellent online  Vela magazine, a magazine which only publishes non fiction articles by women.

I came across this through a moving and thought-provoking article on the issue of abortion: Private Ceremonies by Patricia O’Connor .

The  magazine was founded in 2011 by Sarah Menkedick and she explains why  it adopts a women only policy : “I believe in creating a separate space in which women can write what they want to write, with the same intellectual freedom as men”.

The honesty and compassion of Patricia O’Connor’s article deserves celebrating and  it made me appreciate that there are many topics that need to be addressed from a female perspective.  On the whole, I would argue that gender segregation is still something that ought to be avoided, but  Vela proves that  it does occasionally serve a useful purpose.

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