Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sew What?

NPR was interviewing another woman artist today. They asked her about sewing, and the weddings and romance she sings about.

Is it just me, or is every woman who is interviewed in the arts singing or painting or writing about Women's Stuff?

Have you ever picked up a book that a woman wrote that isn't about love or sex or relationships? I know I've been turned down for writing seminars because I wasn't -- ahem -- writing about the women's stuff. Then again, I was turned away from a Magic Realism writing group because I wasn't -- quote -- "Spanish enough." 'splain that one to me.

I should qualify the question when asking about non-mainstream art. Sci-fi and fantasy writers who happen to be women get to write just about anything they want to. Mystery writers have broken every barrier there ever was -- stick a dead body in it, and you can add demons, ancient cultures and talking cats if you want to.

But if you're at a mainstream writing seminar, show, or in the literature section of a mainstream bookstore -- look around and see what the women are (allowed?) to write about.

And why do women always adopt that whispery court voice when they're being interviewed? "Court" refers to those samurai films with those upper-class women adopting a peculiar weak voice. The old-movie voice that was either husky to attract, or murmured to soothe. Nobody talks like that! Even in the samurai movies, the women who are cooks or farmers yell just like the guys.

I always wondered if Julia Child's voice wasn't an attempt at a court voice. I wonder what her REAL voice sounded like?


Miss Jane A. Barcroft said...

AGGGGH! Mainstream women writers! Don't get me started! "A poignant view of a woman's sacrifices and regrets at midlife!" "A sensitive portrayal of a mother's choices!"

Long ago my best "writing buddy" from high school joined a whole buncha writer's groups full of Sensitive Women Writers; got into the magical realism thing too. I knew just how it would go down at those tea-parties the minute I said that my storytelling models were John Buchan and Rider Haggard...

Setebos said...

And you notice how the supposedly "progressive" National Public Radio never seems to mention women "non mainstream" authors? Instead, they invariably dig up Steven Barnes as their token (gasp! choke!) SF writer (which, by the way, is not meant as a reflection on Barnes' enviable talents, but on the perception of the hags running NPR). And Heaven Forfend they should deign to devote time to writers who also (ugh! shudder!) draw comic art.

Donna Barr said...

They think they're covering comics when they feature Neil Gaiman. Now we all love Gaiman -- he's a fine writer -- but he's a PROSE writer. I don't even know if he can draw stick figures. In comics he's a script-writer. A comparative handful of us are actual comics AUTHORS -- artists, letterers and colorists as well as writers on one book. Promote Gaiman on NPR all they like as a prose author, but he's not a "comics author."

Miss Jane A. Barcroft said...

I once had the amusing pleasure of kneeling to wipe spilled cream from Neil Gaiman's black jeans at a gay and lesbian media awards dinner. He was so worried about any of it getting on his iconic leather jacket that he didn't see the big dribble of it down his thigh. (It was late in the dinner and the tired server stumbled...)

Which has nothing to do with anything, but it was the memory that came up when I was trying to remember if he was actually drawing a few small figures on the napkin. I swear I think he was but I can't be sure.

Donna Barr said...

It's kinda geeky-sad that I only recall colleagues from those con panels. He and I had a cheerful difference about what you could get away with in fiction. I said a writer COULD get away with anything -- depending on how it was handled.

The example I gave was the young Rommel playing the part of a chorus-line ballerina because his cadet commander loved theater. The way to make it work was to use his pride in expertise: "He would be proud about being the only boy who could stay up on point!"

I used this later, in Desert Peach #30. It made for some very cute art.