I am a woman. I write. Like many, I baulk at being called “a writer”, as if that’s a thing that I live and breathe and embody and do with every waking hour. I’m actually much more comfortable being referred to as a sporadically ambulant caffeine repository.
But I do spend a lot of my time reading, and thinking about writing, and reading thinking about writing, and I keep coming up against this same constellation of ideas:
“It’s important to read women’s fiction, to get a different perspective and an insight into how they think.”
“Her book is totally set in a patriarchy! And she calls herself a feminist!”
“Help! I’m a man – how can I write strong female characters?”
And what I read from all this is “women are different from us, and near impossible to understand”.
And, y’know, this bothers me. Not because I don’t believe in women expressing themselves in writing, because, obviously, I do. Not because I don’t believe there’s an imbalance in the publication and review of male and female authors, because, clearly, there is, and there shouldn’t be.
It bothers me because I don’t think any of this is helping women to write, with freedom and confidence, and promote their work, and have it published. I don’t think that treating females as uniquely difficult to understand is helping us out with the whole empathy/ shared human experience thing either. In fact, I think it’s holding us back.
And here’s why, in three fluffy little mini-rants (to be continued…)
From here on February 11 2014.