Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Quoted: Phillip Lopate on Victim Narratives

[...] the impetus for many emerging writers drawn to autobiographical narrative is the need to recite a tale of abuse. They persist in believing that they can claim the public's attention only if they speak with the authority of a victimized outsider, as regards to racial prejudice, gender bias, sexual abuse, physical disability, multiple personality disorder, unloving parents, and so on. While these existential particulars might be a promising jumping-off point for the generation of material, there is still the need on the memoirist's part to creare a complex, flawed, I-character and a satisfyingly self-aware narrator. -- Phillip Lopate from To Show and To Tell
I think this is especially true for women to the point that it's become impossible to find your niche without a promising "victim narrative."

This isn't to say I'm insensitive to those who've experienced of sexual abuse, racial or gender inequality, and mental illness, or their need to tell their stories in the raw. Those things are important, but one shouldn't have to "credential" to own one's voice.

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