Like the Olympics

In More Intelligent Life this week I wrote a follow up of sorts to this post.   Back then I’d told off the kind of “feminists” who want to police what kind of women’s voices get heard because, they say, there is “limited space for women’s writing voices” and the voices that do get heard are “innacurately emblematic” of their gender.  I had countered that “when I was younger and found I had no outlet for my ‘writing voice,’  I spent ten bucks on a domain name and fifteen bucks on hosting and then, bingo, I had one.”

There are some obvious problems with that assertion, though, and I address them here.  I also talk about ‘A Fortunate Age’ by Joanna Smith Rakoff, and why women — myself included — can be such catty bitches to each other, and whether it’s true, as one male writer once told me, that when it comes to books, “boys compete with boys and girls compete with girls, like the Olympics.”

So. Read it!  It’s just like  a blog post I’d write here, except it’s on another blog.  Also this blog is part of a British publication (the Economist), so the post is mildly in British (at one point I say that I “can’t bear” something.)  You can imagine me reading it in my patented BBC announcer voice.  Well really the only thing I know how to say in that voice though is “and the fighting … continues.”  But that actually works for this; “Among women, the fighting … continues.  This is Emily Gould, signing off.”

11 comments to Like the Olympics

  • NotAndersonCooper

    It’s a lorry load of smart blog!


  • Steve

    You’re a stupid, irresponsible cunt and I hope you die.

  • Lionel Mandrake

    As a straight man, I say you are right. Your assessment of the character is spot on (see what I did? “Spot on”, it’s British-y), she and her bourgeois grasping, plus the fantasy resolution, are completely intolerable.

    It’s not just a woman thing.

  • Lionel Mandrake

    Steve, apparently Emily has hurt you in your vagina, perhaps you should get an ointment for your discomfort.

  • Tim

    If neo-feminism is all about women making their own choices and being who they want to be, how would the opinions of one female writer limit the choices other women get to make? I realize there are only so many female writers, and the chorus of those writerly voices taken as a whole is going to shape the overall perceptions people have of women. And this in turn may predispose certain prejudices and opinions and whatnot.

    But if one lady writes a book about a person giving up her individuality and joining the ranks of buttoned down soccer moms, I don’t see how this threatens to “limit” the choices available to all other women. After all, there are millions of office park dads to compliment the legions of soccer moms in America, and there are just as many blue collar Ford F-150 driving guys to rival these office park dads. Doesn’t this black & white view of life limit MY choices as a MALE? Everytime a young and liberated iconic figure grows up and trades in his drugs and wrinkled clothing for a life of politics or Lifetime miniseries dramas – don’t these disapointments add to the overall assumption of the inevitability of life? Which is that someday responsibility is going to snatch us away from our youthful concerns and visions, and our heroes and convictions are going to change according to this new outlook on life?

    That most people are non-thinking conformists who have had the life squeezed out of them should not make their critics superior. To be a contrarian is to be unburdened by the trappings of a way of life that one opposes. The contrarian’s only burden is backlash. Feminists need to consider that the family unit is a very beautiful thing, and in many ways it is also a sacrifice. When a female becomes a wife and mother she is sacrificing her body and some of her other choices and freedoms, and likewise the male must make many daily sacrifices in his role as husband and father. I don’t think one can look at marriage as a prison sentence only from the female’s perspective. To ignore how many freedoms a man gives up when he enters into marriage and becomes a father is superficial.

    And remember, if it weren’t for families, none of us would be here and have stories to write about. You should read Paul Auster’s story “Why I Write.”

  • Rebecca A.

    Re: the second comment: wow. If I were you, Emily, I would “disallow” comments, I think. Who needs that?

  • NotAndersonCooper

    Hey, Save that language for Joe Lieberman.

  • Hi Emily,

    Thanks for your More Intelligent Life post. Us women are often confronted by reflections we don’t like or recognize. Critics also revel in the power they have to vote ‘no’ on the labor of others-particularly when they have yet to embark on similar writing work. Hate it or love it, being a published author is the sh*t, even if the novel isn’t that great. Not to say hers wasn’t, but the bottom line that authoring is light years away from blogging, critiquing in a publication or writing an article. having done all three (I am a non-fiction of author of an entertainment industry guide from women’s points of view called Put Your dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business), I know the hate comes from a place of bitterness and lack of fulfillment on the part of said critic. Even if she HAS written a novel and gotten it published, if she’s insecure about herself, the next woman’s success acts as a mirror reflecting what she’d rather not see. She needs to wake up and put her dreams into action for herself instead of pin-pricking the dreams of someone else.

    Human beings ingeneral need to realize that whatever is for the individual is just that-and that trashing someone else won’t men you’ll get what they’ve gotten.

  • Korski

    Honest piece on women envious of other women; first piece I’ve read by you.

    The NY Mag photo of you is okay. Though why did you get that oversized sucky tattoo? Bloody tasteless.

  • Jaime

    Maxine Hong Kingston isn’t competing against other women. Neither is Isak Dinesen. Nor are Susan Sontag, Joan Didion and Renata Adler.

  • eby

    Hi everybody! I’m analizing this essay for an exam and I have some doubts about it. I quite do not undestand what you mean in the 3rd paragraph, what you really hate is the big picture Joanna tries to convey (which is fake), but not actually the novel itself and the way the story is told? I would really appreciate your help.

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