I’ve been thinking about pissed off women lately. Or, rather, I’ve been thinking about why writer-artists like to portray women as pissed off, including female writers. Are women really as angry as art and pop culture say? If so, aren’t men equally angry?
Think Gertrude (as in Hamlet’s mother, not my cat).
I love the Urban Dictionary because they seem to have a definition for everything. I spend a lot of time looking up dirty words and phrases. I learned what a snowball was via Urban Dictionary. It has nothing to do with the snow, that’s for sure. I love the phrase “Bitches be trippin’.” I don’t know why. On a whim, I decided to look up the phrase on Urban Dictionary. Sure enough, there was a definition. According to them, the phrase is “used primarily by heterosexual males to justify the irrational behaviors of women.” For example, when women bring attention to certain pervasive and longstanding disparities, one might say, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Bitches be trippin’.”
Blake Butler, Kate Zambreno, Amy King and I recently had a nice, interesting, and lengthy conversation about gender, publishing and so much more, prompted by lots of things including the recent, and largely excellent discussion in Blake’s “Language Over Body” post about the second issue of We Are Champion. We thank you all so much for engaging with us on these issues. Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 can be found here.
Amy: I want to try to connect such modes of discussion and modes of writing with why we might have an inequitable publishing history by citing excerpts from Joan Retallack’s essay, “:RE:THINKING:LITERARY:FEMINISM.” Blake, when you say we’re “just people” or we’re “just bodies,” I think you’re resisting the notion that biology is essentialist and destiny (it’s not) that determines how and what we write. You are, in fact, by default arguing against the primary thread of feminist literary tradition that says women’s experiences have traditionally been ignored and must be heard via the writing and, I suspect, you imagine that writers could empathize their way into such positions and write those realities. Just a guess.
But this notion falls short of what types of writing have been deemed masculine and feminine. I hope Kate jumps in soon because she most likely has more to say on this matter than I.
Blake Butler, Kate Zambreno, Amy King and I recently had a nice, interesting, and lengthy conversation about gender, publishing and so much more, prompted by lots of things including the recent, and largely excellent discussion in Blake’s “Language Over Body” post about the second issue of We Are Champion. Over the next three days, I’m going to post that conversation and we all hope you guys join in on our conversation and share your thoughts. You can find Part 1 here.
Amy: We’ve got our rooms and we’re writing – we are no longer invisible, unless editors and prize committees try to render us so. My response was an attempt to point out the other option, which is to be inclusive (which means showcasing possibly disparate work that could be in dialogue), via a new mag, PARROT, that includes work fitting the aforementioned bill:
“PARROT will print the work of Stephanie Rioux’s My Beautiful Beds, Harold Abramowitz’s A House on a Hill (House on a Hill Part 1), Amanda Ackerman’s I Fell in Love with a Monster Truck, Will Alexander’s On the Substance of Disorder, Amina Cain’s Tramps Everywhere, Allison Carter’s All Bodies Are The Same and They Have The Same Reactions, Kate Durbin’s Kept Women, Joseph Mosconi’s But On Geometric, Amaranth Ravva’s Airline Music, Mathew Timmons’ Complex Textual Legitimacy Proclamation, Allyssa Wolf’s Loquela as well as the work of Michelle Detorie, Vanessa Place, Brian Kim Stefans and others…”
I realize this number counting feels isolated and is usually defended as ‘accidental’. Just see PW’s note on their all male “Top Ten” list for 2009. But what gets lost when we don’t query such disproportionate representation is that the interests and views and styles that men write in are what we all: male, female, and every other gender get conditioned to, starting with child lit on up to college “classics.” Such lack parallels why the Wall Street fuck up might have been prevented, or at least lessened. If variety is the spice of life, shouldn’t that hold true for the literary landscape as well? There should be a symphonic cacophony, no?