Is it just me, or are women taking shit about their writing everywhere we turn right now? What really angers me about this is not just that it's pure bigotry, it's that it isn't true. The best, most innovative writers in the blogosphere are women. I know that because of that blogroll to the right there. I had no idea of the real depth and variety of writing that's going on until I started this project.
The same thing seems to be happening in the publishing world. Anyone who thinks women aren't innovative needs to get a copy of Necrologue, The Diva Book of the Dead and the Undead
edited by Helen Sandler, for a collection of writers really stretching the bounds of literature and imagination. There's not a dull or "disappointingly domestic" story in there - though, as you might imagine from the title, a couple of them are "depressed as hell." Who wouldn't be - depression is the only emotion we're allowed to feel without being called hysterical shrews.
I'm a snob about writing. Goddess help the writer who submits a book for me to review that isn't well written, because I shock myself with some of the bitchiness that comes out when I have to read bad writing. I'm not easy to impress.
I am impressed by the women on that blogroll. I'm impressed with any women who submits work of any kind for publication in this climate. I'm impressed with AL Kennedy:
Effectively, Women's Writing is whatever has most annoyed any given journalist, commentator, academic, or author in the past few books by women they've read. Sweeping generalisations must be made, insults must be slung, personal abuse is welcome and two or three days of columns and op-eds can be sustained with the merry to-and-fro.
The point she's making is that "there's no such thing as Women's Writing". There's just writing. Some of it is good, some bad, some brilliant, and none of that is determined by the writer's gender. Half the women on the net have taken that crazy test to see whether their writing is "male" or "female" and most score male. Apparently, it has something to do with complete sentences and accurate punctuation, and nothing at all to do with plumbing or a second X chromosome.
Wouldn't it be nice to just be a writer, without being shoved into a subset with an assumption of inferiority? To be judged by the work, and only the work? To write about one's own experience without apologizing for it? To express a complete range of emotion and imagination without being told that those should be limited by a cultural norm? To write whatever comes to mind without worrying about the comfort level of anyone who might read it?