Friday, 16 December 2016

Feminism and Writing

In today's post, Cara Mckee talks about feminism and writing.

There are still women who write under non-gendered, or even typically male names (Robin Hobb, and JK Rowling spring immediately to mind), and it still makes sense to do that even though it’s 2016.

Writing is what I do now (blogging at and mainly writing poems – I’ve been shortlisted in this year’s Great British Write Off). I’m happy to have the opportunity, but I also need work which fits around looking after my children with a husband who often has to work away.

Like much of women’s work, my writing is undervalued. I often get asked to work for ‘exposure,’ something I note a lot of writers get asked to do, although it does seem to be more of an issue for women (in my experience), whose writing is often seen as a hobby, rather than men, who are struggling artists, trying to make ends meet (let’s face it, most writers don’t get paid a lot). Perhaps this is related to book sales, because it is still true that while women will buy books by men or women, men mainly buy books by men, and publishers need to go where the money is. There are plenty of women writers, but less published ones, and of those, they tend to get less attention. I was recently at a workshop on SciFi writing, lots of authors were recommended, but none of them were women. I asked why and was told there weren’t many women SciFi authors because women aren’t really into that kind of thing. I started listing women (because I’m a difficult woman), but to little avail I fear.

The matter of women’s lives is also often seen as light or irrelevant. I’ve seen lots of programmes focusing on the politics of male dominated office spaces, but hardly anything on the politics of the toddler group.

I used to write a column for my local paper for ‘exposure.’ I quit when I realised that the other two columnists (both men, who already worked on the paper) were doing it for the money. I now get paid to write a column for a parenting magazine which was just voted the best new magazine in Scotland. It’s important not to accept having your work undervalued.

I suspect that once we are successful in the next part of gender equality, recognising the value of caring and home-work, and getting more men involved in that stuff, then we might see more recognition for women writers and women’s stories.

Until then I’m going to keep talking about women writers, to let other people know all the good stuff there is to find, emerging poets like Katharine MacFarlane and Iona Lee brilliant authors like Eowyn Ivey and Naomi Alderman (who also writes games), and awesome bloggers like Maddy at Writer’s Bubble and Sara at Mum Turned Mom and me of course. I’m chuffing awesome. Check out my blog at or find my poems in the latest copy of 404 Ink magazine or in Allegro Poetry

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