Are people really harsh on women writers because they are women? I do not want to accept that. I have been in denial although I have written several times about it, hoping it was not the complete truth. Someone just sent me a link to a Maureen Dowd article and it left me with a sense of déjà vu.
I can recount tens of instances where being a woman seemed to be my only identity as a professional.
*The editor who commented on the colour of my nail varnish.
*The male colleague who wondered why I worked at all considering I had a keen sense of couture aesthetics and a chandelier in my house.
*The interviewer who was doing a cover story on the new woman who went to great lengths to describe my clothes, my hair, my jewellery, my perfume, and then wrote about how he wondered what I could be – a scruffy feminist, a coquette, a dominatrix with a whip, a Muse…
*The reader who was aghast about my boldness, but chose to call me a “frustrated bitch”.
*The other reader who came in to ‘defend’ me by telling him off with the wonderful claim that I was more likely to be the sort who had multiple orgasms.
*If men appreciate you, then your feminism is seen to be suspect.
*If women appreciate you, then you are gay or a feminazi with a moustache.
*If you talk about vaginas and breasts, you are sexually obsessed.
*If you talk about politics…guess what?...you are sexually frustrated!
*If you like to enjoy the good life, then you are just so elitist and have no business to have a social conscience.
*If you discuss activism, then you are either a hypocrite or a killjoy with dirty fingernails.
*If you decide to be visible and shoulder responsibility for your views and actions, then they will say you are an attention-getter.
*If there are things where you do not want to be associated with and stay invisible, then they will say you are misusing your powers….
Recently, I have had more than one reason to smile. Some people have started rating me. Due to the guidelines that are in effect, that bit was removed. Now, they start ranting that this is being done because by playing watchdog I will stay in their line of vision for I do not want to be forgotten! They start the rating, the discussions because they cannot forget…and then they blame the recipient of their remembrance….wow….and this passes for analysis of character. How very trivial.
Reminds me of Ambrose Bierce saying,
Mark how my fame rings out from zone to zone
A thousand critics shouting, “He’s unknown!”
I do not believe it is necessary to flash it if you have it.
About my first ever column I had no idea that I was the only woman on the edit page for four years. Till they pointed it out when they introduced another woman and said I would have “company”.
When they started using caricatures, it was all the male columnists who protested; I loved it.
Yet, even today, there is the belief that you are peopling a man’s world, whatever the heck that means. As I had written a while ago…
Imagine me dancing like a dervish, tongue hanging out, hair askew, eyes darting back and forth in a mad frenzy, body heaving between gasps of breath. Not tough, eh? Who else could be the ideal candidate to send you on this fantasy trip, but the one who takes on all those penile dysfunctions, without even bothering about their religious significance?
That’s it. They expect you to always be a gleam in someone’s eyes. The moment you kick up dust and a speck of it finds its way into those orbs, you irritate the hell out of them. No, you do not provoke. You irritate. Because they cannot handle you. Sometimes, when they are at a loss for words, and defensive people usually are, they finalise your fate in that one unspoken delectable phrase: Female hysteria.
And why don’t I mind it too much? Because I know that it is the first sign that you have made an impact. It may have all kinds of nasty connotations, but when you think about it, you have had your say, and, more importantly, you have not withered in the force of the typhoon.