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?
As I sat there, looking at the display of manhood I exhibited; I was quite taken with myself. Even as I look back on that trail of events, I find myself becoming a bit ecstatic. There is an undeniable joy that comes from you simply standing up for you. The lesson I learned that day stuck with me my entire life. If you allow someone to punch you five times they will punch you five times, if you let them punch you once they will punch you once; but it you break off their hands they cannot punch you at all.
Within my childhood, I learned the gift of reading. From that gift, I read spectacular stories of mythology, lore, and fables. Fables, where the hero always rose to overcome the evil set before him through cunning and guile, and this was my inspiration. The stories allowed my imagination to soar; and I found myself wanting to be that chivalrous knight that rode across the battlefield and smelled the dust that my horse kicked up as I rode into battle turning the tide from defeat to victory. Although, I was a really skinny little kid at the time and it seemed I would never fully grow into that role.
As I walked home I dredged forward, and I realized how much I loved the warm spring days. I smelled the freshly cut blades of grass. I remember the afternoon sun splashing against the back of my head and my legs, then the sweet embrace of the gentle breeze. I was a second grader and the thing I hated most in the world was the walk home from school. The main reason I hated this was because of the Jacksons.
The Jacksons were an extended family, and they had a gang of kids that all lived in the big white house on the corner. With the amount of people that lived in that house, you would swear they were like a nest of cockroaches waiting to pounce on a morsel of food. As I walked home that house always loomed in the back of my mind because as I walked home it was the house on the corner and I passes it everyday. I could see it throughout my entire stroll home.
The thing that made the Jacksons so bad was that their gang of kids always beat up the other kids because it was so many of them. One day, they beat poor Cornbread nearly until he needed stitches. (Cornbread was a white kid named Mike who lived on our block in a predominately black area and we called him Cornbread as he was always at someone’s house eating cornbread.) After that everyone feared the Jacksons. In all honesty I feared them too. Cornbread once said to me “they beat the hell out of me and took my G. I. Joes. And I am bigger than you Dave so you better not take your toys to school!!!!”
So the best way to survive a beating is to not be involved in that beating. I created that I would not walk past the Jackson’s house. I started walking down the alley before I got to the corner so as to slip in unnoticed and unscathed. This worked for a few days until the Jacksons began to see through my ruse. Now I had to become even more cunning so I began to walk an entire block and a half out of my way to come up the opposite end of the block. The aforementioned tactic worked for all of about a week, until one of the older Jackson’s just happenedto tell his little nappy-headed siblings of my craftiness. From there on forward I was a very fleet of feet young man. I ran home everyday to avoid a beating.
One day they almost caught me and as I barely managed to evade the horde of Jacksons covering all my exits. My father was home early from work that day. My Dad asked “Why are you out of breath?” I responded by saying “I was racing one of the other kids.”My dad shook his head said ok and went upstairs. He had left the v.c.r. running and within it lay my salvation. My dad had rented the movie “Rocky”. Now I must admit I was a little overzealous after watching this movie, but from the beginning to the end something within me stirred like never before. I was truly inspired and by all things a movie no less. I had a newfound sense of invincibility. I believed that I was able to defeat the Jacksons, at their own game. I would do something more cunning and more perilous than had ever been attempted; I would attack them in their lair.
I got off the floor, grabbed my shoes, and sat on the couch as I put them on. “I am not taking this sh– anymore,” I exclaimed. My older sister looked at me and said, “Where are you going?” I told her “I am going to the Jackson’s house and end all this running home.” As I laced up my shoes my sister started calling for my father. I feared what he would say so I ran down the stairs and out of the house. As I stomped down the street I bee lined straight for the Jackson’s house. The fear that had gripped me was no longer in my realm of existence.
I walked up to the leader kid Rick Rick. I did not speak, I cocked back my hand and hit him as hard as I could in the nose. He immediately fell over in pain. His entire family just gasped. Something inside me told me to stop, and I being of glorious purpose refused to listen to it. I pummeled and whaled on Rick Rick for about 15 minutes relentlessly repeating, “Don’t you ever chase me home again you piece of sh– mother fu—-!!” After I began to tire I rose from the righteous indignation I had visited upon his person.
At this point I was crying as well because this was not what I believed I should be doing beating someone up in front of their family. Being the chivalrous knight that I was with tears streaming down my face, I stood clinched fists over him and apologized to his parents for disrespecting them. I said “Mrs. Jackson I am sorry but I just don’t want to be chased home anymore.” His mother looked at me, nodded and thunderously roared, “Rick, I told Y ‘all that you better leave that little Gibson boy alone.” Cornbread observed it all and he ran over to me and patted me on the back. Cornbread handed me his G. I. Joes and said “Yo Joe you’re my hero.”
I had come to understand what it meant to stand up for myself. I walked home invincibly. When I got to the porch my mother was standing in the doorway ready to pounce herself. Alas I was saved, as my father placed his hand on my mother’s shoulder and said, “I will handle this!” My father took me for a walk and I wondered where he was taking me. He began talking to me about being a man and also about being smart enough to know when and when not to fight. I listened intently, and my father’s words washed over me and through me. “David, we must temper ourselves and defend ourselves physically only when there is no other recourse.” He told me that he knew of my problem and was wondering when I was going to ask him for help. Then he said, “I am proud of you. You handled yourself quite well.”
He took me to McDonald’s and got me a hot fudge sundae. As we took the walk home he told me more bits of wisdom; and I soaked them up. The last bit of wisdom he gave me he said was for just tonight, “don’t tell your mother where I took you and what I said!!” We laughed all the way up the stairs until we got in the house. Because of the fabled fight, I learned what it was to stand up for myself as a man.
That moment when a person’s eyes brighten, a grin spreads across their face as they excitedly begin to describe something. They incorporate hand motions and a passionate tone that draws you into their words no matter what they are about.
That moment, if you’re lucky enough to catch it, can teach you everything you need to know about a person. The words they share reveal what they live for, what they enjoy, and what type of person they ultimately aim to be. Seeing that moment in others, watching them discuss their true passions, is inspiring, but realizing your own moment, discovering yourself – life changing.
Since Kindergarten where I learned how to write and began reading short stories, I have avidly read every book I can get my hands on. By first grade, I was reading lengthy chapter books, far surpassing my expected reading level.
Every story fascinated me and as I got older, I began to become intrigued by the immeasurable amount of plots and writing styles that created the books I cherished most. Reading quickly became my favorite pastime. I excelled in all of my English classes and passionately discussed books and authors with anyone who shared my interests.
My moment, was not necessarily one moment, but rather a collection of moments that led to my realization. Building a connection with characters in a novel allows you a unique perspective on life.
Through these characters I have experienced remarkable journeys and in turn learned more about myself and how I view the world. I strongly believe that the main reason I read so enthusiastically is because when I am absorbed in a book, I am able to completely forget about my own life. Reading allows me the unique opportunity to distract myself from any outside stresses or worries, while simultaneously discovering myself and my perspectives on issues I may not have the chance to actually experience on my own.
The idea that an author can skillfully craft a story describing feelings I cannot even put into words amazes and inspires me every time i crack open the pages of something new. If I am not working, you will find me reading. Whether it is something new, or a story I’ve read multiple times, I always take something away from the experience that allows me to be more knowledgeable about the world around me, and about myself.
Reading is a form of self discovery. Through another’s story, you are able to learn more about yourself and realize opinions and ideals you hold that you would not have otherwise. To those who say they don’t enjoy reading, I simply believe that they have yet to read a book that’s worth reading.