I have struggled my entire career as a writer, with the fact that I do not wish to publish under an identity that is not my own. I don’t feel that it’s fair that I should have to submit under my initials to get people to consider my work and many women in this industry do still have to do this. J.K Rowling is a fair example. She chose a pen name because her target audience for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was young boys and her publisher felt that young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman. The target market for that series began at around age 8.
I thought long and hard about my pen name because of this.
You see what I went with. I chose something obviously feminine.
This has endeared me to approximately twenty people, all of whom I thank for taking the time to read my series and for taking an interest in this blog. I know many of you personally, and I find that I love that about being an independently published writer. It was enough for me to have that last year, but now I am finding that I need and want more from my career as a writer.
This especially hit home for me earlier this week when, in a conversation with other indie writers, a man wagged his credentials in front of me made me feel marginalized and small in the face of his “experience and research.” Did he have credentials? Sure, but they did not afford him a position where I should immediately be expected to bow to his knowledge simply because he said he had them.
I wondered what allowed him to think that way. I wondered what made him think that it was okay to marginalize someone else because he disagreed with them, when what he should have done was pony up some evidence to back up his argument intelligently. I wondered what gave him permission to be patronizing and mean. I realized that he was probably entirely unaware of what gave him that permission, because it wasn’t his credentials or my lack of them. Truthfully, the only thing that separated the two of us in that discussion is my gender.
I have not been treated this way by another person in a very long time. I believe that most of the men I know would argue against the argument I am about to make, simply because they do not have this dividing line in their minds that makes them think that men are better than women. I am certain the man in question would argue that my gender had no basis on the way he treated me, but something allowed him to feel that the language he used was acceptable. He clearly felt he had the upper hand over me and regardless of what he said or what he thinks, he put me in a position where he made me feel as though I was somehow less than he is. Because he is male and I am not, I drew the gender line. What other conclusion was I supposed to come to?
I am not the sort of woman who wanders around thinking that all men are misogynists. However, I am still a product of our culture. I have grown up being told how to avoid getting raped, as though it’s somehow my fault that I might get raped. I live in a culture that tells me that the cut of my blouse is a reason for someone to take my ordinary, happy life, and turn it upside down. I live in a culture where there are men who are so entirely unaware of their own gender bias that they hide behind the anonymity of the internet and abuse the feelings of complete strangers to make themselves feel superior.
It is not okay. It’s just not okay and it makes me angry that I live in a world where things like this exist. That doesn’t mean I can’t do anything about it though, because I can. I can write this blog post and remind you all that the internet is not an excuse for us to be mean to each other. It is not an excuse period. People have feelings. Those feelings deserve respect and recognition.
I’m not proud of allowing myself to get into this situation, but if I don’t speak out about how I felt after what happened, I’m not sure how we can learn about how our actions impact other people. The discussion has to continue and our work toward understanding and appreciation and care for our fellow man has to continue.
It has to.