Mike MJ Harris

Accidental Sexist


Empathetic reading..

I've always loved reading - I love being wrapped up in another world and experiencing something away from everyday life. I felt that by reading broadly I had a wide and varied view on the world and that this helped in my views and attitude to others. I was an educated modern man. I'd walked in others shoes and understood their thoughts and day to day struggles.

A couple of years ago I read a guardian article titled 'You might not think you're a sexist until you take a look at your bookshelf'. In summary the article talked about how most people's bookshelves are dominated by male authors. One key quote I thought summarized the issue: when your worldview is solely shaped by men, you are missing out.

Accidental sexist

I scoffed at the article - congratulating myself on how broad my reading literary tastes were. Luckily I keep a record of everything I read so I could even prove to myself that I wasn't an accidental sexist

Accidental sexist

Books by:
Year Male authors Female authors
2011 7 0
2012 15 1
2013 16 3
2014 13 2

Soooo.. turns out I was a sexist reader. There may be reasons why this was the case but non of them really matter. The situation was that my reading material was completely unbalanced. If those were the stats for headcount at a company or a meetup I'd be outraged.

In addition I was also a little shocked about my lack of self awareness. If I could be far off in that perception of my reading habits then what about everything else? That thinking takes you to the void - and while I like giving the void a little wink and a smile occasionally let's just stick with how I dealt with my literary inbalance.


So I took a conscious effort from when I read the article in May 2015 to read more female authors. It was great - I read some fantastic books. Some a little heavy and about four in a row with a suicide at their denouement but I enjoyed reading as much as I had in the previous years. Hopefully I was getting a view of the world from a female point of view. I wasn't missing out.

Diets and Exercise

Fantastic - I'd sorted myself out! But like many resolutions I fell out of the habit. I sat down a few weeks ago to look at what I'd read in 2016 and was a little disturbed to find that I had read one female author and six male. There were reasons for the books I'd chosen but I realised I needed to keep at it, to stick to a balanced reading diet, to a meaningful mental workout to keep an even view on the world.

This post it a little note to myself that I need to stick at it. And not just male and female but books from all walks of like. I'm thankful that years ago I started recording what I read and I'm happy that I actually went and checked after reading the article. Hopefully my view on how to treat others wont be sabotaged by an ineffective reading list

Books by:
Year Male authors Female authors
2015 5 6
2016 6 2