Three Reasons Women’s Writing and Expression is Less Visible Than Men’s
The three reasons are: bodies, relationships/family (includes food and entertaining) and complaints. This article fits under the “complaint” category, by the way, with a bit of the only possible solution.
I just read a good article promoted on Medium this morning by Amanda Ann Klein. It was a touching story about Amanda’s skinny, confident 9-year old daughter who, worried about a tiny tummy, asked her mother if she looked fat. There’s nothing wrong with this writing, and certainly not with Amanda and her daughter. It was part of one of their curated publications called “Human Parts.”
After I read it, I “shared” it like a good girl and thought . . . .
Like I have not read something like this at least 5,000 times. Is there anyone on the planet who does not know that women and girls suffer due to body image? I could see this being adopted into entry-level English classes. I know nothing about Amanda beyond the article, but she fits in the “I write about women’s stuff” columnist category based on this one article alone. Women’s stuff writers like Anna Quindlen, who parlayed her career as a rhetorically-unsound NY Times and Newsweek columnist who nevertheless, said exactly what her readers wanted to hear (probably the top rhetorical technique to date) into a career as a high-end chick lit novelist. To Anna’s credit, her 2013 novel Still Life With Breadcrumbs features a 60-year old female protagonist who falls in love. That puts it in a category of, oh, about ONE such bestselling books (it’s got good reviews but there is no way such a character, of an age with the author herself, wouldn’t get a little backlash).
“Doesn’t the market dictate what sells?” (i.e. what is read by many?).
This was a valid question posed by one of Orange County’s wisest business coaches, Michael Sawitz.
People buy (or consume) what is offered to them.
If someone, man or woman, wishes to write for a living, they understandably, justifiably, give the buyer (or these days online — promoter) what they want.
And the purveyors, the publishers, have pre-conceived notions regarding what readers want.
From women: bodies, relationships, complaints.
From men: everything else.
I got into following Medium because of Craig Newmark. He wrote a short article about supporting military families and veterans and I thought “This is cool!” I am always interested in everything Craig has to say.
That’s the way the cool stuff at Medium is supposed to work. An “influencer” like Craig interests others and they go to consume the awesome stuff that’s provided on the service. Medium generally curates and sends crap out to bait you back to read more. They (and a s***-ton of others) are heavy into curating and pushing James Altucher. James, today, is writing about “The Six Things the Most Productive People Do Every Day.” James spices this type of content up with articles about his son, family, puckish humor, and party games like how to bait others into talking all about themselves while you, personally, disclose nothing. James is funny, smart, interesting, charming. What a hilarious game! I’ve played it on purpose too … but mostly, it’s easier for me and other women because most people assume there’s nothing to know about you beyond what they see up front (body), marriage and/or children (relationship) and they don’t care about any complaint you might have — much less an idea about something else.
Bodies, relationships, complaints.
Even a brilliant, accomplished, successful woman like Sheryl Sandberg offering solutions for women to escape this three-tiered cage faces big opposition.
Dozens of people in addition to me have shared with these persistent YouTube troglodytes that Sheryl does, in fact, have something to offer and does do something every day. (I follow this YouTube “discussion” and this dumb c*** was today’s addition). The prior classic was “Women are like an egg salad sandwich at a Texas picnic: appealing for only a short time and full of eggs that spoil fast.” The idiot who wrote that was inspired by the untimely death of Sheryl’s husband Dave Goldberg.
I don’t generally try to make a consistent race/ethnicity bias comparison and I “get” that people of color are uncomfortable with connecting race and gender. However, these days, I don’t see this type of commentary coming wholesale to male people of color. If someone made that type of comment on an African-American business leader’s TED Talk (not that there’s many of those, either …) there’d be no question what type of person would make such a comment and there wouldn’t be many such comments offered. The person would be called out for racism (justifiably). Decent men roll their eyes, but few of them call these people out as misogynists. If they do, they’re usually hit with a gay slur. “Misogynist” itself still has a type of charm and humor — i.e. crusty old guy with a secret “heart of gold” who once upon a time, may have been played by Walter Matthau.
I was supposed to moderate a panel about helping young girls overcome the “Gender Confidence Gap” at BayCon. On this panel with me were a top scientist and professor, Heidi Stauffer, one of the most-successful African-American female TV/film producers, Deborah Pratt, Kyle Aisteach, who coordinated education programs for NASA, and Emily Jiang, who is writing books for diverse young people.
We got to sit on the dance stage from the night before and had room for maybe 25 seats, half-filled. The theme of this convention was “Women of Wonder.” There were amazing displays throughout the hotel of women who’d excelled in various fields. I spotted Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who is to this day, the second of only two women who’ve won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Maria worked on most of the critical atomic research projects of the 20th Century, mostly as a volunteer. She taught for a stipend or for free for most of her career and when she won the prize, the San Diego newspaper headline was “San Diego Mom Wins Nobel Prize.” Her husband Joe, a chemist, was fired from the University of Chicago because he supported his wife’s scientific work. I was required to pull down a 1987 article by a grad student from Physics to verify this information. The article I’ve written that includes Maria and her husband Joe, among others, will appear in an upcoming issue of Analog Magazine.
That was then — Maria’s prize came in 1963.
This is now. If I want to be super-famous and successful, published by Random House with NY Times Bestsellers like Anna Quindlen, or be featured in Medium like Amanda Ann Klein, I need to stop my persistent bad activities and write about . . .
Bodies, relationships, complaints.
As I think I mentioned at this crazy panel about “Overcoming the Gender Confidence Gap” — to the one gorgeous young woman in the small audience: be who you are. Believe in yourself. Do what gives you joy. Just do it.
I did not say: stop worrying about your body, build honest, good relationships with your family and friends, stop complaining and start doing. But I will say that now. It’s the only way. Just ask Sheryl Sandberg or if we could, ask San Diego mom Maria Goeppert Mayer.
Originally published at www.amysterlingcasil.com on June 3, 2015.