Mia blogs about blogs.
This post by Eileen Myles (entitled “Being Female” — I love a pithy title) would have been quite the Valentine’s Day treat, had I read it on Valentine’s Day, when it was published on The Awl. But ever since the creation of its sister-site, The Hairpin (Are you reading this blog, ladies? You really should be!), I’ve stopped keeping up with The Awl. Largely because I hate when I read a wonderful, truthful piece on being a female writer in a man’s world (all the while feverishly copying and pasting excerpts into an email draft to share with my nearest and dearest) only to scroll to the bottom and see comments like, “Didn’t you create the Hairpin so I wouldn’t have to suffer through this?” Ugh. In the words of a friend, “If I ran the world I would execute internet commenters.” (Which is potentially hyperbolic, but potentially not.) But the point is, way to miss the point, commenter! Way to relegate ladies and ladies’ experiences strictly to ladies’ blogs! The point also is, read Myles’ post. A few highlights below.
Myles really bowled me over with this. (Bolding mine, because omg this line cuts to the core):
A mother loves her son. And so does a country. And that is much to count on. So I try to conjure that for myself particularly when I’m writing or saying something that seems both vulnerable and important so I don’t have to be defending myself so hard. I try and act like its mine. The culture. That I’m its beloved son. It’s not an impossible conceit. But it’s hard. Because a woman, reflexively, often feels unloved.
Oh and this point about literary reviews? About how people are complaining that the majority of reviews are for books are by men? And how some people are trying to argue that this isn’t a big deal, how it doesn’t speak to a larger issue? And that the feminism of the 70s and 80s solved this problem anyway? Well:
But to publish a review today that purportedly reviews “all” books yet in fact is dedicated to the project of mainly reviewing men’s without acknowledging that kind of bias sort of begs the question—the operating presumption must be that “we” “all know” that men’s writing is in fact better or more important than women’s—is the real deal and the only thing disputing this is feminism and since that’s “over” (phew) we are back to business as usual. When I say business I mean that there’s just a whole lot of money talking. That’s what’s going on. The more culturally generous moment we’re all missing (whether it ever truly happened or not) was tied to a booming economy. Men weren’t actually sharing space in the 70s and 80s—the doors just got a little wider for a while. And now that there’s less money to go around in book publishing and the surrounding media it seems like what’s getting shoved out is women.
Interestingly the poetry world is getting celebrated for its VIDA showing of nearly equal gender parity in reviewing etc. The problem there though is that the majority of the poets writing are female. It’s true. That’s who takes workshops, that’s who gets MFAs, you can easily get some numbers there and frankly in the poetry scene the women are the ones who are generally doing the most exciting work. Why? Because the female reality is still largely unknown. And language is the thrill that holds the unknown in its vague and shifting ways.
And on femaleness as failure:
I mean and there’s just always a danger if you’re a feminist that you’re also a lesbian (I am) and the only way to really make it clear that you are not that (or that “it” means nothing) is to firmly vote with the guys, kid with them, and be willing to laugh at other women (to demonstrate that you have “a sense of humor”) and not push too hard to include women in anything. Speaking frankly as a lesbian I have to say that the salient fact about the danger zone I call home is the persistent experience of witnessing the quick revulsion of people who believe that because I love women I am a bottom feeder. I am desperately running towards what anyone in their right mind would be running away from. Which is femaleness, which is failure.