Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

I am Not a Woman Writer!

I clicked open an email that landed in my inbox announcing another post on Writer Unboxed, a fabulous blog which includes work from a variety of authors practicing their craft. The title of the post intrigued me "On the Care and Feeding of Writers" by Juliana Baggott. As I read through the first lines to see whether or not I would click over to read more, all of a sudden I started getting angry. Now, this anger has nothing really to do with Juliana's post, which I think is wonderful and interesting--so please do pop over and read it--but more to do with me being on emotional overload today and feeling overwhelmed and frustrated about life in general. However, the thing that made me start seeing red was the phrase "women writers and ambition."

Suddenly I was like "WHY ARE WOMEN WRITERS CALLED WOMEN WRITERS AND MEN JUST CALLED WRITERS?!!!?" Yes, I believe I even yelled in my head. Actually, it's probably a good thing I am home alone at the moment because I am mumbling, grumbling, and yelling all over the place. The dogs are even hiding from me.

I think I've finally just reached the point where I don't understand why and how society still defines people based on the randomness of XY chromosomes.

A writer's tools involve words, ideas, creativity, thoughts, pen and paper or a computer , grammar, punctuation, and . . . that's about it. Well, I know I'm over-simplifying but the point is that nowhere in that list is the necessity of having a penis.

a Writer's Toolbox Compilation

I know, traditional publishing tends to be dominated by males. This, however, does not suggest that males write better than females. On the contrary, it reinforces the idea that traditional publishing is stuck in an attitude that belongs to a past society. As I mentioned in my discussion of pseudonyms, women have a better chance of getting published through a traditional publisher if they take on a male sounding name.


Honestly, I tend to read more books written by women than men. I don't choose books based on the sex of the author, but I get drawn more often to the material that women seem to be writing. This doesn't mean I only read so-called "women's fiction". I actually dislike that genre specification (but you know I am not thrilled with genre labels anyway).

What's more important for me, is good writing, an interesting story or idea, and (in the case of fiction) characters that are not just stereotypes. A few weeks ago I started reading a book by a male author who had written such a stereotypical, nauseating, mysoginistic male protagonist that I had to stop reading. In the same vein, I've read books by women with such simpering, pathetic, whining, superficial female characters that I  . . . had to stop reading. I forced my way through the first book of a famous series despite that depiction of femininity, but I couldn't make myself read more.

My guess is that if there was a study about the number of people writing now we would discover at the very least a 50/50 split between males and females, but most likely skewed more toward female writers. I'm talking about all kinds of writing; writing toward self-publication or writing toward the dream of finding an agent; writing in online journals or other media and writing for blogs. I'm also sure that there are studies out there that show that women have a tendency toward more linguistic ability than men, or at least women have been more encouraged to pursue that ability over men.

If this is true, then why are we divided into women writers and writers? Can we change it to women writers and writers with penises?

Should we have to?

I am not a woman writer. I am a writer. Period. Or, maybe I need to embrace the power of the female voice, but where would that get me in a society that skews toward the power of the male voice? All I know is that lately, I feel like we are swimming upstream in a world gone mad.


What do you think, should writer's always be identified by their gender? Discuss below.