I am over at The Debutante Ball today, blogging on the topic of ‘Day Jobs,’ which I have contrived to turn into a discussion of the way in which the industry responds to women writers v. male writers. Here’s a clip:
Women writers are rarely profiled with baby on hip and hand upon spoon within tureen of soup on stove. Unless they are writing cookbooks. Men, on the other hand, appear to pop up willy nilly next to stoves, babies and batches of muffins as though they relied on nothing less than full domesticity in order to create the brilliant fictions of their mind. Perhaps they do. Female writers either look glamorous or imposing. Male writers can be handsome, lovable, bashful, quirky, and fully domesticated, an entire smorgasbord of possibilities denied to women. More than one blogger even questioned why this summer’s profile of me the Poets & Writers Debut Fiction Issue did not include my age. Did I have something to hide, she asked. Apparently, if I were as youthful as my publicity photo implies (am I? aren’t I?), why would I not flash my actual age? Presumably, along with my thigh.
Why does age, gender, and marital and maternal status impinge so greatly upon the reception accorded to female writers? Why does it impinge so little upon the status given to a man of equal merit and competence? That is the companion question for all of us women who find ourselves debuting on the rather uneven stage of literary fiction, and one which I hope will cease to be relevant sooner rather than later.
Please visit the site and join in the discussion. And do support Women in Letters & Literary Arts (WILLA) if you don’t already. And if you would like further reading on the topic, check out Francine Prose’s article in Harpers, waaaay back in 1998, Scent of a Woman’s Ink. Classic.
Finally, thank you to the debs for inviting me to write this post – it prompted me to write something new, which is good news for my own blog which I have been unable to update. The idea of the current post not being about my mother was too distressing to contemplate until now. She would certainly have approved of the post that takes the place of my remembrance of her.