I never thought this can be a point of discussion until now. Few days back I read Virginia Woolf’s “A room of one’s own”. In this book she primarily focuses on the idea of women having a room of their own so that they can have freedom and luxury to write. I quote here- All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point. A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.
This book “A room of one’s own’ was first published in 1929 and even now decades later the issue persists. Can we put this on men and say they are bias toward women? No, if you see, a large fraction of readers consist of women.
When I did little research on this issue, I came across data which was based on Survey conducted by VIDA in 2010. An article published in “The Guardian” states this fact very clearly that there is a big gap between female authors and male authors being published. Is it because a large number of publications reject female writers work or men outnumber women just by the fact that fewer women try their hand in writing?
Let me break it down for you-
VIDA: Women in Literary Arts support women and their contribution to literature. VIDA conduct surveys every year to see how women are doing in literature and how much attention is being given to them by various publications.
According to survey conducted in 2016, there was some improvement from the year 2010.
a) There were 29 Women as compared to 49 men who got published in GRANTA (a magazine and publisher based in UK) in 2010 which went high in 2015 with 33 women as compared to 35 men.
b) For poetry the number increased from 165/246 in 2010 to 185/188 in 2015.
c) When it comes to how many female critics got their voice heard the numbers are really bad.
Male pseudonyms were very common in 18th and 19th century. They were female writer’s card to the world of literature. They were proof that the author of this book is real genius and means business. Can women write? Yes, they can; in fact they are brilliant in what they do. Mary Ann Evans is an example of this who you know from her pen name “George Elliot”. Yet even today name matters, why?
If you think these are only theories than you should read this . A tell all story by renowned author Catherine Nichols where she submits a manuscript under a male pseudonym. She received eight times the number of responses she had received under her own name.
Surveys like “Are women better writer than men?” demean the whole idea of being a writer in first place. The question should be how we can promote diversity in literature? There must be writers out there who don’t want to be methodical but different. The difference is because of the prevailing idea in our society that men are intellectually more superior to women. It’s like getting surprised and showering praise for a man who comes in support of women rights. Ignoring all the efforts millions of women are making every day for their own rights. I bet you, if a male writer wants to publish on a sensitive subject such as feminism, there will be a queue of publisher standing right outside his door.
Is there any solution to this? Will there ever be? How long will it take our society to understand that we all are human beings irrespective of our gender, status or race? Our minds are unique. Each one of us has a right to have a say in different matters irrespective of who we are.
We have come a long way where women no longer have to hide behind a pseudonym. They can walk the walk and talk the talk as freely as men do. Female authors have published a wide genre of books which are getting the reception they deserve, “Wild- Cheryl Strayed”, “The lowland- Jhumpa Lahiri”, “The hunger games- Suzanne Collins” and “Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn” to name a few.
There are so many female authors I haven’t read myself. The conclusion I draw from these facts is – We should give female authored book a chance to inspire our lives.
How much do you think there is gender bias in literature and how it affects you as a reader?
Throughout your life no matter how privileged you are, how much money you have, how high your GPA is, what kind of car you drive, or how much real estate you own there are always going to be tribulations.
The amount and circumstances of the tribulations that you face will always vary when compared to someone else. But, the way you should react to these tribulations should always be the same. Whenever you are faced with a hardship in life, you should follow the Stockdale Paradox. The Stockdale Paradox is from a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins.
The book is about how eleven good companies turned themselves into great companies as well as comparing them to other good companies that had similar circumstances but failed to become great. The book is talking about companies because the stock market business is easily measurable but in all reality, you can take the topics in this book and relate it to everyday life. In chapter four of the book there’s a topic called the Stockdale Paradox.
He was not the only one who was imprisoned, but he was one of the very few who survived. He stated that the only reason why he survived was his faith and his acceptance of the brutal facts. Stockdale also stated that the people who did not survive were the ones who were too optimistic. Being too optimistic can harm you because when you tell yourself something is going to happen by a specific time and it doesn’t happen then you set yourself up for failure.
To clearly define the Stockdale Paradox, it is maintaining unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
The past few years I’ve had to use the Stockdale Paradox and didn’t even realize I was using it until I read this chapter. In high school I excelled in athletics. Don’t get me wrong, my grades were also of high quality but athletics was my thing. It’s funny how it worked out because the sport that I was best in, I had never competed in until freshman year of high school. That sport was track and field.
I made varsity outdoor season of freshman year and sophomore year my head track and field coach convinced the head basketball coach to persuade me to not play basketball anymore and run indoor track and field. Fast forward three years and it ended up being one of the best decision’s I’ve made in life. At one time I was a co-national record holder in the Octathlon as well as a three time All American. I got a scholarship to run Division I track and field at Delaware State University.
Although I was a scholarship athlete I was not happy. I made my decision to attend DSU mainly because they gave me the most money, but DSU did not have the adequate facilities nor coaches to make me the best athlete that I could be. I am a decathlete, which means that I have to train for ten different events. Out of those ten events I did not have a coach for six different events. I was promised by the head coach that a new coach was going to be hired, which a coach was but it was not for my events.
My freshman year of college although I placed in the conference for high jump, I sort of went with the flow and just let things happen. My sophomore year I accepted the brutal facts that I wasn’t going to get a coach so I had to do everything in my power to become better. I put in countless hours of extra practice alone after we finished regular practice, extra time in the weight room with the weight training coach, watched videos online, and even recorded myself and attempted to critique what I was doing wrong.
I started to make a list of colleges that I would like to transfer to. My final decision ended up being the school in my home state, Rutgers University. I began emailing the coach at Rutgers and we were in contact for about six months with me sending him results from my season. Towards the middle of May, the coach from Rutgers emailed me and told me that because of a university mandate I would not be able to be apart of the team the upcoming season.
That truth hurt and I was dismayed for a number of weeks, but then I began to have unwavering faith that although I could not be a member of the team my junior year I would become a member my senior and graduate years. I accepted the brutal facts of my reality and knew that I would have to train myself harder than ever before to be given a shot as a senior with only two years of eligibility left.
Currently I am receiving workouts from my high school coach and working out on my own until I am given a shot to make the team. Even though my story is unfinished I still practice the Stockdale Paradox by have unwavering faith that I will not only be apart of the team here at Rutgers but I will also make contributions to the team. I have accepted the brutal facts that it won’t be easy and I need to train myself to compete against the best athletes in the country but it wont be something that I’ve never done before.
My name is Ashley Olafsen, I am 19 years old, and I literally just published a book!
I’m really excited for you all to read it – It’s called Survival of the Prettiest: The gender, mental health, and sexualization crisis as told by a teenager. I wrote it because it’s the book I wish I had when I was younger, and I basically just talk about body image, media, mental health, relationships, competition, and a bunch of other issues that kids and teenagers face while trying to grow up. I tell my stories and share my friends, and what’s even cooler is that the book is interactive and filled with reflection questions!
Let’s back track:
When I was 15 years old, I became angry about the things my friends and I were going through. We were dealing with low self-esteem, poor body image, mental health issues, unhealthy relationships, and so much more. For example, I was really struggling with my body image. I hated the way my thighs, stomach, eyebrows – pretty much everything looked. My insecurities were truly affecting me and keeping me from speaking up during class discussions, and becoming my authentic self. It seemed like NO one was talking or even cared about what we were facing, and it felt like there was this unresolved crisis going on right in front of my eyes!
I decided that I wanted to get a conversation going. And more than that, I wanted to play a role in helping my friends and myself live up to our full potentials.
So, alongside three friends, I gave a self-confidence empowerment workshop to a group of 8th grade girls. My friends and I shared our personal experiences with the girls, in hopes that it would inspire them. And it did – so much so, that one of the girls decided to create a MOVEment with me.
Her name is Lexie Phipps and the two of us have joined together to create MOVE (Motivate. Overcome. Value. Empower) – Together, Lexie and I spread our MOVEment across the world. MOVE is a program designed to help empower girls into body positive, confident leaders and role models. We also focus on the importance of getting help as well as preventing unhealthy relationships. We give workshops at schools and even direct a 5 day summer program. This year, we had 70 girls!! To check out a video of what happened at the summer program, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
In addition to MOVE, I’m also a TEDx speaker (https://www.youtube.com/watch
And here we are today – with a published book! I worked on Survival of the Prettiest for a little under three years. I researched, wrote, edited, revised, revised again, cited, cried over, drank lots of coffee over, and lost sleep over this book…It was a tedious yet fun, passionate yet LONG process.
I would love for you to be part of the conversation, and I'm hoping that the book will leave you inspired, empowered, and more vocal.
Check out my book, and let me know what you think
Thank you for reading & wishing you all the best!!
My 5 Levels of Leadership (as inspired by Jim Collins’s book From Good to Great)
As a high class Division I athlete I have had a lot of experience involving leadership throughout high school and college. With the changing environments between high school and college I have experienced different types of leadership between myself and others.
The first level is classified as being a Highly Capable Individual, which is someone who makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits. As a top nationally ranked high school javelin thrower I feel I showed this quality throughout my career by always working hard and trying to be the best. I always wanted to get better and shared my knowledge of the event with my teammates who weren’t as talented and needed help. I tried to lead by example and hoped my teammates would follow me and try to put in the same amount of work as I would.
These traits can also be combined with the second level of being a Contributing Team Member by contributing my individual capabilities to help the team and to work well with them. I considered myself almost another coach to them because sometimes our coach had to work with other kids and felt I could help enough for where the kids were and they trusted me because they knew I was good.
Now with the third level being a Competent Manager it is kind of similar to the second level. A competent manager is described as someone who organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives. I feel in college I showed more of this trait than I did in high school because there weren’t as many set team goals but in college our group of javelin throwers have very high expectations. Therefore as the oldest and most experienced thrower competing this year for us I feel I have to show the younger guys a better and more effective ways of doing things with training and also things not to do so we don’t get hurt.
The fourth level is also similar to the third level but just to a more intense pace. This level is called an Effective Leader which is someone who catalyzes commitments to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance standards. This I also feel I have shown through college and being one of the older guys. With being in the B1G conference now we are set to trying to be better athletes so we can compete with the higher athletics. I also try and set good examples because I am one of the few on our team to score at the conference meet and make regionals. With this I want our other athletes to strive to be better so they can make going to these big meets.
The fifth and final level is the Executive and they show someone trying to build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. This I personally haven’t seen and think this would take a very special person to show, although I am very happy with myself being able to consider myself a level four leader.