It turns out that a single editor brought on the crisis: a thirty-two-year-old student of history named John Pack Lambert, enrolled at Wayne State University and living in the Detroit suburbs. He’s a seven-year veteran of Wikipedia and something of an obsessive when it comes to categories. He creates a lot of them. Last year he briefly created Category: American people of African-American descent. Then he raised hackles by recreating the defunct category American “actresses,” a word that others felt belongs in the same dustbin as “poetess.”The NYRB article is worth a read. (Friend to Damn Arbor Ed Vielmetti is the first commenter I see on the post! We're everywhere!) For purposes of enjoying good literature, I find ordering novelists by their sex about as useful as ordering food by its color. However, I am sympathetic to the cultural value of recognizing novelists who have had the extra burden of writing from any perspective that is not "white" and "male": as this latest Wikipedia kerfuffle highlights, their acceptance into the American story is a fight we're still fighting. Why categorization as an "American Woman Novelist" precludes a writer from categorization as an "American Novelist" is beyond me.
But I'm just a woman blogger.