The word storm generated by writing sessions at the national wine bloggers' conference in Santa Barbara this summer (https://grapecollective.com/articles/5-reactions-to-the-panel-of-professional-wine-writers-at-the-2014-wine-bloggers-conference, http://thedrunkencyclist.com/2014/07/22/wine-bloggers-conference-in-defense-of-old-white-men/, et al) is both unexpected, and unfortunate. Steve Heimoff, Mike Dunn and I were invited there to talk about writing, and consequently denounced by some bloggers as old, white, male and... short. Thus in one oft-repeated assertion the complainers revealed themselves to be sexist, agist, racist, and vertically discriminatory. That's quite a literary achievement.
Well, I want everyone to know that I'm six feet tall. That's a couple of inches above the national average and I worked hard for every one of them. Not easy getting to six feet in Memphis: too many glasses of milk to get down, reins on bourbon and Camels, standing up straight in endless heat and humidity. Yes, it's absolutely true that I'm a man, older than the average American, and pitifully Irish, Welsh, English, Dutch, and probably Cherokee (my grandmother, bless her heart, never really explained).
Not much I can do about any of it, but I can say that good writing does not depend upon these things. It depends upon having a clear vision of what you want to say, an acceptance of what's good writing and what isn't, and an honest assessment of one's own work. All these things are missing in this fight, replaced by an insistence upon being praised for writing badly in a silo resounding with the complaints of the equally aggrieved.
The truth is that writing well requires not just practice but also what Hemingway (yes, that ultimate old white male of indeterminate height) called a good, built-in shit detector. Most of the aggrieved lack one. My advice to them - and to any aspiring writer - is: "Develop a sense of humor. And look beyond yourself."