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I want to point you all to another interesting essay up at The Awl. This one, “Being Female” by Eileen Myles, is a very personal response to the recent flap over VIDA’s discouraging tally of the percentage of women writers represented in the review pages of our nation’s newspapers and magazines. *
When I think about being female I think about being loved. What I mean by that: I have a little exercise I do when I present my work or speak publicly or even write (like this). In order to build up my courage I try to imagine myself deeply loved. Because there are men whose lives I’ve avidly followed—out of admiration for their work or their “way.” Paolo Pasolini always comes to mind. I love his work, his films, his poetry, his writings on film and literature, his life, all of it, even his death. How did he do it—make such amazing work and stand up so boldly as a queer and a Marxist in a Catholic country in the face of so much (as his violent death proved) hate. I have one clear answer. He was loved … 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 it’s 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. When I saw the recent Vida pie charts that showed how low the numbers are of female writers getting reviewed in the mainstream press I just wasn’t surprised at all though I did cringe. When you see your oldest fears reflected back at you in the hard bright light of day it doesn’t feel good.
Go read the rest of it, see what you think.
Thanks to Cheryl Strayed for linking to this piece on her Facebook page. Cheryl is one my favorite writers — if her novel TORCH doesn’t make you weep (in a good way), your heart is ice. She has a memoir coming out in 2012 called WILD, and I can’t wait to read it.
* Over at Salon Laura Miller digs deeper into the numbers.