Friday, September 18, 2009

Guys and dolls, as it were:

Last night I watched an interview with an author whose work I like, but that doesn't prompt me to do cartwheels and then finger myself. Still, I found his answers smart and insightful and enjoyed listening to what he offered next. Then he was asked the inevitable (though sometimes useful) question, "Which other authors do you read?" He named three off the top of his head (all fine choices and one of whom is a friend of mine) and later revisited the topic, rattling off about ten playwrights whose work he's long admired.

Then he caught himself. "I'm sure there are some women in there, too, I'm overlooking right now." Each of his picks had been men. He struck me as sincere and I believe there are women whose work resonates for him. And I like that he answered honestly: no one should feel like they "have" to publicly laud any artist if the latter's work really doesn't spark something within.

I've been pleased that my writing, so far, has garnered a healthy degree of praise from the whole gender spectrum and that no one has attempted to pigeonhole me as a "woman writer". I've been viewed simply as a writer, which is how it should be for all of us, regardless of sex, race, religion, or where one falls on the Kinsey Scale. (Side note: I say this without a trace of arrogance. I know if I were to attempt, say, civil engineering, I would get quickly labeled, "disaster". I'm fully aware of the many things at which I would choke.)

But still, it got under my skin that if I or any woman had been asked the same question and the interviewer had been of the opposite gender (as was the case last night) and we had named 13 writers who sport vadges, it seems near certain we would have incurred the response, "Don't you read any men?"

Unquestionably, things continue to progress in the right direction. I just wish we were already there. Anyhow, it's 75 degrees and sunny on what is one of the last warm days of the season and nothing is going to shift culturally in the next 90 minutes. I'm off to get an iced americano and head to Thomas Street Park. And, for the record, my favorite authors run the whole spectrum of humanity. Except for the bad writers: while some might be lovely human beings, it's perfectly okay to shun their output.

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