I'm fascinated with this essay from Deborah Copaken Kogan, war photographer, essayist, and bestselling author. After being long-listed for a literary award that's only for women, she discovers it's considered "controversial" because we as a society are living in an age of egalitarian harmony and "the past is gone."
In response, Kogan calls up a lifetime of experience that includes being lumped into a women's portion of a war photography exhibition, having the title Shutterbabe forced upon her memoir, being ignored by major publications (to whom she's contributed) for reviews, and other actions that ultimately marginalize her for being female. In summation:
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.
And here's something you'll rarely here me say, I would recommend browsing the comment section of her essay, which includes responses by critics who have reviewed her, a personal exchange between Kogan and critic Daniel Mendelsohn, a smattering of insanely pretentious and dismissive man-trolls, and a few more balanced responses offering measured critiques and support of Kogan's case.
However you feel about it, when even a successful author can feel such pressures and marginalization, it's still a discussion worth participating in.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!