Every so often, I get invited to participate in some sort of women’s writing contest or some anthology of women’s writing or a list of great women bloggers or some other project meant to celebrate the work of women. I don’t do it.
It’s not that I have a problem with being a woman. I’m pretty happy with myself the way I am. But I don’t think the fact that I’m carrying around two X chromosomes has anything to do with how I write or how good I am. I can compete with any writer who comes my way (at least in my field — I know better than to throw down challenges involving my awful, awful poetry), whether that writer is a man, a woman or a frog.
More often than not, I fell that these projects revolving around women’s writing are just a way of saying, ‘There, there. We know you can’t compete with the men folk, so we’ll hold a special contest just for you.’ There are arenas in which women and men can’t fairly compete with each other, such as wrestling or childbearing, but writing isn’t one of them. I don’t need to be separated out for praise because I have lady bits and still manage to keep my mind on my writing and I find the suggestion that I do insulting.
There aren’t enough female writers out there getting equal billing with the gents. That’s been true since the Bronte sisters represented themselves as the Misters Bell. Things have improved a bit, but we still have a way to go. But separating out women writers into women’s contests, women’s lists and women’s magazines isn’t going to help. Want to help your fellow female writers? Put your work into publications that run more pieces by men than by women, like The New York Times Book Review.
If you need any more convincing, consider the fact that these projects invariably don’t have the sheer money associated with them that going after big publications can provide. Focusing your time on working only with other women writers simply isn’t as lucrative as proving that women really are just as good when it comes to writing.
I am not a woman writer. I’m a writer that happens to be a woman. I expect equal pay rates, a fair chance at all awards going around and anything else a writer with an XY chromosome combo has access to, and let’s leave it at that.
Image by Flickr user Andy2580