Sheesh, There's a Reason Women Are 'Totally Crushing It' at the Confessional Essay
almost 2 years ago
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"At the end of 2014, I wrote about the “women’s essay,” which has been a daily focus of mine in my last three years as an editor for women’s sites; the genre, to me—a method of directly commodifying personal experience—has always seemed like an attempt to spin gold out of shit and straw. By shit and straw, I mean the material conditions that have surrounded women’s publications, which are rarely able to fund the type of reporting or coddle the voicey analytical thinkers that define both men’s publications and ostensibly gender-neutral mainstream ones. (The first things I ever wrote on the internet were personal essays, because I was broke and the financial barrier to entry was nonexistent, and because I was a totally inexperienced writer who was willing to write for free.) "
"And I also mean the material conditions that have determined women’s lives—in which your gender was expected for almost all of history to shut up and get penetrated and have babies and stay at home, in which all of the other factors that give people something interesting to write about (because, unless you are a genius, you can’t write a personal essay about basic comfort or stasis and expect anyone to read it) are compounded, and the problems auto-delivered to you by your gender are multiplied by other factors of economics and orientation and race. "
"I have remained a loyal participant in the online personal essay genre because I believe in it. I am glad Aaron Gell wants to engage in this particular quest; some of my favorite first-person writers are, and I’m not being sarcastic, men. But on the internet in particular, the personal essay waters are treacherous, as is the process of trying to do something like, Hey, we noticed you built some great-looking houses in this crap-ass neighborhood we put you in, and we’d like to start building those kinds of houses in our own, historically nicer neighborhood, too."
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