ON BEING A FEMALE WRITER. WHAT ARE THE PERKS?

Hi Maureen! I’ve been looking into the whole male authors are treated better then female authors, how books are categorized as being boy books that girls can read or just girl books, how female authors seem to get more push back and hate. I’ve been reading quite ALOT of articles and such on this and I was just wondering: What are the perks of being a female YA author? If there are any and I believe and hope there are.

—    cardboardcastle17

Dear CARDBOARD,

As is my usual style, I am writing this quickly. No edits! You get it HOT FROM MY BRAIN TO YOUR EYES.

The perks of what I do are so numerous as to be like the stars in the sky. Don’t weep for me. I’m ridiculously lucky. Let me just list some of the MANY ADVANTAGES.

 -       I do the work I love

-       People read what I write (I think)

-       Often no pants

-       Ditto bra

-       Make my own hours

-       Lots of Tweeting

-       Office includes puppy, nap space

-       Get to hang out with other writers

-       Loads of free books

-       My general environment is pleasant, safe to be in, and designed solely for my liking

-       I make things up FOR MONEY (I did it for no money before I got money for it, but the getting money part is sweeeeeeet, I trade it for food)

Is it ALSO true that female writers tend to have a different FATE than our male counterparts? Yes, that’s true. It’s true in a thousand different ways that I often can’t even talk about, because it would involve talking about people and encounters and conversations. And it’s true in ways I CAN talk about, like when people ask me if I’ll ever write something boys can read (my books carry COOTIES that will make their penises fall off) or if I have an idea and a guy has the same idea, he is likely to get the credit (if it is good) or the fact that what I do has a far greater chance of being called slight, or breezy, or fun, or escapist, or a guilty pleasure, or light, or beach-worthy … and if a guy wrote it it is likely to magically become a masterful work of comic prose, or a subtle and humorous exploration of life and love the likes of which has never been seen before!

Which is also not to say that all male writers are walking around with people throwing themselves in front of them in order to praise them more ABJECTLY. That’s not happening either.

The writing world is simply an extension of the rest of the world, and in that world, women often get treated differently than men. Usually, not for the better. Historically, we were at a disadvantage for a long time, and it’s been a slow change, with occasional dramatic bursts. A lot of people think this whole “lack of equality” thing is over and not happening. Those people are generally not women, as we experience the differences daily. And some women are so used to it that they think it’s just what we deserve or should expect. But we do make less money, we told fewer positions of power, we have more laws that govern what we are permitted to do with our bodies, we experience higher levels of sexual assault. MOST of us have been groped or approached by strangers in a threatening sexual fashion. Many of us have been raped. And many of those women have been told that it is their own fault that it happened. There are billions of dollars spent every year simply to tell us how our hair, skin, weight, teeth, style, demeanor, and general entire existence are wrong and need fixing. We are constantly expected to be conscious of our “look” and the “message we are sending.” When we talk, even when we talk less, its perceived that we talk more.

These problems are compounded by ten, twenty, a hundred times if you are a woman of color. Then you have hundreds of years of racism and evil stupidity in the mix…and this noxious swill still oozes through every level of the system. And that includes the reading world. It includes it SO MUCH.

To your original question: writing remains just as awesome. Do I get angry that the work we do—and sometimes (actually, often) we ourselves are treated differently? I think the answer to that is obviously yes, as I talk about it every day. I live in the world, and this is the world. I talk about it every day, because there is a basic reality it media: things get hot for a very short time. Things that seem like the MOST IMPORTANT STORY IN THE WORLD, even those things fade. The scandal of the day can be gone by evening. I’m repetitive because the situation can only change with a conscious movement toward change, and I bring it up every day in the hope that some of you reading what I say about it get it into your minds that this is not the way it needs to be.

Because this whole thing about how women are treated, these thousand tiny little needles we’re pricked with? Those change our behavior. We’re told we’re supposed to be the ones doing housework—and so, we clean instead of creating because of the voice that’s saying, “YOU NEED TO DO THIS.” The voice that calls you a slut? Or calls you ugly or worthless? Does it make you want to hide? Hate yourself? The voice that says you are not capable of deciding for yourself? The voice that says that YOU are breezy and light like a dozy butterfly, but the man writing the same thing is DEFT and CLEVER…

The voice that says YOU, girl, YOU will read stories about men but men cannot be bothered to read about you…*

Well. If I do nothing else, I hope I get to at least one of you. One is plenty. More is great, but even one is fine. I just want you to know it’s bullshit. You probably knew already, somewhere inside, that it was bullshit, but you saw all this stuff that said otherwise and you didn’t know what to make of it? And you were fighting in your own mind with the concept? And somehow you just feel LESS when you’re QUITE ENOUGH?

Those messages are bullshit. You’re right. I know they are many, but the fact that they are MANY does not mean they are accurate.

Anyone who tells you you are less because you are a girl can suck it.

Anyone who tells you that you need to look different can suck it.

Anyone who says if you are assaulted in some way that it’s your fault can suck it so hard that they suck themselves inside out.

Anyone who tells you that what you create is just not quite as excellent as what this excellent dude (who is excellent) can create can suck it.

I’m more than happy to be the repetitive and slightly insane adult who blows this horn over and over again so you can hear it over the wall.

And I can do this because a thousand other women made the call, and I heard it over the wall, and I realized that I was QUITE ENOUGH and now I write and wear no pants and have a dog and pay my own bills and Tweet.

I have told the people who need to suck it to suck it when they come calling, and they have sucked it. Or I have walked away to do something more awesome, and they do whatever they do. I’m sure they’re not all bad. Everyone’s a mix. I certainly am. But there are certain things I won’t put up with, so I do not.

I make things up for a living.

It’s pretty awesome.

Don’t worry about me. It’s all good. When I talk about these things, I do so knowing that this is one way of causing change. These are just bad habits, is all. Sometimes very bad habits, but habits nonetheless, and they can be corrected.

There are many awesome things in the world. I am sure you are one of them.

LOVE,

AUNTIE MJ

* This is the so-called BOY BOOK CRISIS which I maintain DOES NOT EXIST. Because it doesn’t.