What’s in a Name, Really?

Kate Harding’s compelling article, “Write Like a Man,” on Salon.com reveals how gender affects a writer’s success and psyche.

She writes about James Chartrand’s first hand experience that proves a male writer succeeds faster than a female writer, even in the 21st century (you can read James’s account here). For James Chartrand, changing the she to he, on paper, skyrocketed her writing career. The same writer – sitting at the same laptop, crafting articles with the same style – became a quick success under the guise of male anatomy.

Kate Harding also mentions Kathy Sierra’s story about a barrage of death threats, via internet, aimed at her simply because she’s a female blogger. Kathy Sierra put her gender on the table and still managed success. However, she also attracted a hostile reader who threatened her with physical and sexual violence. Not because she wrote provoking blog entries, but because she was a woman who dared to write about “cognition and computers,” which apparently is man’s domain.

There are days when equality seems accessible, tangible. Then, I read about the experience of these writers, and I wonder, what’s a woman supposed to do to get ahead, or just plain even? In ten days, we will enter another new decade, one that seems lightyears away from the Seneca Falls Convention and the  birth of a seventy year struggle to ensure a woman has a voice. Still, women stand two rungs down on the ladder to success. Not only that, but we are susceptible to bodily harm when we dare to succeed in a man’s world.

Sure, there are plenty of women writers at the top of their game, selling books left and right, sporting a fat, healthy readership. Yet, Kate Harding’s article cannot be ignored. She says it well when she expresses the same sentiment I feel when faced with these odds:

“I get furious when people insist that western women have achieved full equality, feminism is no longer necessary, the wage gap is imaginary or the lack of women in positions of power is unrelated to sexism.”

Check out Kate Harding’s article for yourself. Though your perspective may differ from mine, we’ll at least be on the same footing about the facts.

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4 responses to “What’s in a Name, Really?

  1. Thanks for pointing me to Kate’s article. I thought about your post all evening and really don’t know what to say beyond: it’s both outrageous and discouraging.

  2. You know, I joined She Writes in the first days of launching, but I’ve never really taken advantage of anything there. I guess I need to pay it closer attention.

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