1.02.2005

Hey everybody. We decided that top ten lists are so 2004, so we'll let you comb through our archives on your own as you avoid your to-do list back on planet earth this morning. How sweet of us, no? Anyway, I had a standard-issue Cupcake moment the very night I got back from my travels, here it is:


Dec. 30, 2004

I just got back to Brooklyn tonight. I had a lovely Alexander session with my talented practitioner (the best in New York, in fact) and then went for dinner and a drink with a friend.

So at the bar where we were eating, this gentleman in his late fifties makes a point of hovering. He is reading the New Yorker (we all know what that means at a bar, no?), the new one with the gray cat target thang thang on the cover. He makes a point of asking me about my pasta as he is leaving and I am sweet and ask to see the cover of the magazine.

"Oh and wait--let me just take a look at the table of contents," I say, just in from my Presbyterian refresher course over the holiday, re-brainwashed to be completely modest, polite and demure.

The two women writers with bylines in this issue are the neo-conservative, self-described "anti-feminist" Caitlin Flanagan and punk-rock OG cartoonist Aline Kominksy-Crumb. Well, half of Aline Kominsky-Crumb because she shares the byline with her more famous, ass-drawing (though genius, as is she) husband, Robert, as usual in the New Yorker.

(By the way, I love you Aline. LOVE YOU. How brilliant of you to insist on getting in there in the New Yorker pieces. That rocks.)

"Two women," I said, "One of them an anti-feminist, the other only there because sharing the byline with her husband."

The older gentleman, in scolding tone that was so hateful I went into immediate denial said:

"Is that how you look at the world? You count bylines?"

"Well, this is actually a bad week for the New Yorker," I said in my most young-pretty-girl-maintaining-pleasantness-cheery-voice, "Usually they're at about eighty percent men. This is really quite bad."

He grumbled something else with obvious scorn.

"And the only two women here are an anti-feminist and the wife of a famous cartoonist," I continued, sweetly, but not ironic sweetly. I was really trying here.

He stopped hovering, needless to say. He grumbled some more and scuttled home.

I felt terrible, like I just ruined everyone's party. This is so codependent of me. I just point the facts out and then certain people get pissed. But can you honestly tell me that it doesn't mean anything that those are the only two women represented?

Younger guy writers, when I point this out, usually feel bad and want to do better. They don't believe it's true, at first. They get a little defensive but then start doing a Sherlock Holmes in their brain for the women writers they remember in the publications they read.

Like the guys at n+1--they immediately improved their percentage by 200 percent after we teased them a little. I know I give them a bit of a hard time sometimes, but I do appreciate their work and their efforts to improve.

Older male writers--I mean, come on, this guy tonight almost certainly went to college when Yale wasn't even co-ed, during that era when the boys all swam so heterosexually naked at Payne Whitney--tend to get actively hostile fast without a smidge of concern to hide it. His scorn made me feel like shit. But I remained polite.

And I counted bylines.

And I'm going to keep it up as necessary.

"He'll never look at the bylines again without counting," my friend said.

"Just to prove me wrong," I said.

And I'm right on this one.


xo
Elizabeth

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