#ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear Spotlights The Sexism Of Creative Fields


ICYMI: Writing is hard. Even if you do manage to finish that novel you’ve been working on, the obstacles standing between you and your publishing goals abound. And, even writers who do succeed will likely have to work a separate job to support themselves.

If you’re a woman ― especially a woman of color ― there are added hitches. Your work is less likely to win awards, less likely to be reviewed by major outlets, and, when it is reviewed, it’s more likely to be stereotyped as domestic or family-centric than men’s work is.

There are other, less easily quantified hurdles, too, which Chocolat author Joanne Harris began to list under the Twitter hashtag #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear on Monday. She wrote that, when on a book tour with a male publicist, or with a fellow writer who was a man, she has been mistaken for a publicist and not an author.

She continued by noting questions and assumptions she often hears in her line of work, including, “Who does the housework when you’re away?” and “But your husband puts food on the table,” even though she’s been her family’s main breadwinner for over two decades.

A chorus of women writers chimed in, including Wild author Cheryl Strayed and Outlander author Diana Gabaldon. The anecdotes run the gamut, and each is illustrative of the pernicious acts of sexism faced by women in creative fields. 

Premiere of CHOCOLAT. Famous (male) author pushes past me without a glance to congratulate my (male) publisher. #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Joanne Harris (@Joannechocolat) April 17, 2017

#ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear Your books are good! I thought you were a man!

— S. E. Hinton (@se4realhinton) April 18, 2017

“We can’t put your degrees in your bio; it will intimidate your readers.” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Diana Gabaldon (@Writer_DG) April 18, 2017

*writes about personal experiences*

*gets dismissed as “confessional” work*#ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Lesly B. (@breathlesslyb) April 18, 2017

“Aww, what’s a sweet/nice/gentle/dainty person like you doing writing crime novels?” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Megan Abbott (@meganeabbott) April 18, 2017

“And how does your husband feel about the subjects you cover?” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear pic.twitter.com/FbBOLRnBiL

— Chrissa Hardy (@chrissahardy) April 18, 2017

“Will you be writing about mothering now?”/“I liked your piece. Did you write it when the baby napped?” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— emily nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) April 18, 2017

“what a great way to make a little money while you’re home with your daughter.” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Tehlor Kay Mejia (@tehlorkay) April 18, 2017

If you just used your first initial no one would know you’re a woman & you’d probably sell more books #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— jami attenberg (@jamiattenberg) April 18, 2017

“Wait, you write science fiction? But you’re a woman.” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear #still #in2017 #frommydoctor #iaskyou

— Melanie Fletcher (@melaniemf) April 17, 2017

“When are you going to write a real book?” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Jennifer Weiner (@jenniferweiner) April 18, 2017

Male friend, to me: ‘I’d read one of your books, but I’m not your target audience.’
Me: ‘… as a human being?’#ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Laure Eve (@LaureEve) April 18, 2017

“Don’t you worry about how that will reflect on your children?” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Racheline Maltese (@racheline_m) April 17, 2017

“So, is it a real book or is it like, a Harlequin?” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Jenny Trout (@Jenny_Trout) April 17, 2017

“You’d sell more books if you switched to initials.” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Madeline Ashby (@MadelineAshby) April 18, 2017

I’ve got one, from after I gave a lecture: “How does your husband handle your wit?” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Joanne Freeman (@jbf1755) April 18, 2017

#ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear
Where do you find the time to write? pic.twitter.com/2XyLFYeKSy

— Danielle Gray (@ImDanielleGray) April 18, 2017

Male radio hosts say they love my books, then once we’re on the air they say I write “great books for women.” #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

— Cheryl Strayed (@CherylStrayed) April 18, 2017

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