You’ll Get Smeared

redbook_coverNormally I’d save this one for my Friday Links post but honestly I don’t want it to get lost in the long list of things other people are saying.

This article by Deborah Copaken Kogan, My So-Called ‘Post-Feminist’ Life in Arts and Letters, is simply extraordinary. It may be the most important and soul-kicking thing that I have read since I discovered Joanna Russ.

Upon being shortlisted for the Women’s Prize (formerly the Orange Prize) for her novel The Red Book, Kogan addresses the many and constant criticisms of the existence of the prize itself by calmly examining the many and various ways in which institutionalised sexism have affected her life, from graduation through several careers (war photography, TV news, novelist and writer of memoir) and the many ways in which her reputation and professionalism have been worn away.

The threat of ‘stay silent, don’t speak up, they’ll smear you,’ is a constant theme and now she feels “old” enough, safe enough, confident enough, to say to hell with it, and tell her story anyway.

I consider throwing in the towel. The lack of respectful coverage, the slut-shaming and name-calling, all the girly book covers and not-my-titles despite high literary aspirations, has worn me down, made me question everything: my abilities, my future, my life. This is what sexism does best: it makes you feel crazy for desiring parity and hopeless about ever achieving it.

The Nation

One reply

  1. Helen says:

    It is an amazing piece and so many of the comments – as far as I went which was not far – are appalling. Sadly, I am not shocked at what she discloses. I wish I was.

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