18 March 2013

Jamie Feldman: Write Like a Man

The Ms. Foundation for Women is celebrating Women’s History Month with a blog carnival featuring the voices and profiles of women across the country. This Month of Action is generously supported by our friends in Seattle.

By Jamie Feldman

When looking at gender representation in the workforce, the focus seems to be on women gaining ground in the sciences, but what does that say about the arts? As a woman who works in literary arts, theater and film, I am frequently reminded that the vast majority of top writers, directors and producers are men. It’s great that we root for female engineers and mathematicians, but why don’t we extend that same enthusiasm toward equality in the arts?

Examine the recent Academy Awards. In the directing and screenwriting categories (15 nominations), only one woman (a co-writer) was nominated. For acting, the awards have been segregated into actor and actress categories. Whether this is a good thing is debatable. Sure, it allows women more visibility in the entertainment industry, but by separating the awards, are we saying that men and women must be judged differently for the same accomplishment? And, if so, what exempts the other categories in which men and women compete (or work together) for the same awards?

VIDA’s annual count of women represented by top literary publications was recently released, with dismal results. Some believe this is because men and women write differently, although as someone with a unisex first name, I can tell you, this is false. I’d be lying if I said my name hasn’t been an advantage.

Once, when I had been “found out” as a woman, I was told my writing had been accepted because I write like a man. It is this type of rhetoric that maintains the unfair advantage and contributes to inequality.

I am a woman and I write like me: an artist, an individual and a human being.

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