Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sad girls and writers on writers

I'm not a big reader of The Hairpin, or really any ostensibly feminist, but smart "lady blog" lately -- mostly because over the past few years I've found myself aging out of them -- but I really like this article by Haley Mlotek, admittedly because it makes me a little uncomfortable:
I made a joke a long time ago about my book collection being a kind of Sad Girls Club—which is true, and something I'm proud of, and I swear I will do a post on that soon—but I do also think I spend a lot of time reading books or articles that celebrate something, even if it's sadness, because those are the books that have the greatest impact on my actual life.
I can sense someone hovering over their keyboard right about now, ready to pounce out my "shaming" of melancholy, but wait. I don't think theirs anything inherently shameful about sadness or being a "voyeur" of it, but, particularly for women, it's become an industry. Sad women are marketable.

I've notice over the years most of the characters I've created are men. I fail at writing female vulnerability.

There is a common thread in a lot of contemporary women's writing -- call it the "Bell Jar Syndrome" or something -- where female characters have a lot of privilege, but little agency. It seems trite, mentioning something that I'm sure every reader has noticed but none seem bothered by. On the opposite end, I'd put someone like Dorothy Allison, but she's rarely considered a peer among canonical female writers. It's hard to be tough without being pigeonholed as "plucky." It reminds me of the backlash last year over "strong" female characters.

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