“How I Learned to Stop Writing for Old White Men”

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That’s the title of this op-ed by Claire Vaye Watkins that appeared in the LA Times last month.  Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve watched boys play drums, guitar, sing, watched them play football, baseball, soccer, pool, “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Magic: The Gathering.” I’ve watched them golf. I’ve watched boys work on their trucks and work on their master’s theses. I’ve watched boys build things: half-pipes, bookshelves, screenplays, careers. I’ve watched boys skateboard, snowboard, act, bike, box, paint, fight and drink. I could probably write a six-volume memoir based solely on the years I spent watching boys play “Resident Evil” and “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.” I watched boys in my leisure time, I watched boys in my love life and I watched boys in my education. * * *

Which is to say I have been reenacting in my art-making the ceaseless pastime of my girlhood: watching boys, emulating them, trying to catch the attention of the ones who have no idea I exist. This is a dispiriting revelation on its face, but becomes desperate because I thought I was doing this for myself. I was under the impression that art-making was apart from all the rottenness of our culture, when in fact it’s not apart from it. It is made of it. * * *

Motherhood has softened me. I don’t want to write like a man anymore. I don’t want to be praised for being “unflinching.” I want to flinch. I want to be wide open.

I am trying to write something urgent, trying to be vulnerable and honest, trying to listen, trying to identify and articulate my innermost feelings, trying to make you feel them too, trying a kind of telepathy. All of this is really hard in the first place and, in a culture where women are subject to infantilization and gaslighting, in a culture that says your telepathic heart is dumb and delicate and boring and frippery and for girls, I sometimes wonder if it’s even possible.

H/T Professor Lisa Pruitt (UC Davis) on Twitter, here.

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