Dear Women Writers

Being a human is hard, but being a woman… even harder.

Being a woman means being silenced, over and over, in all aspects of life. Or should I say, that’s what being a woman meant. In the past, women have been oppressed in fields such as politics, education, sports, and the workforce…. and literature is a hidden edition on the long list. While I can argue that women's oppression still exists today, our society has come a long way, and today women can do more than they could in the past.

I recommend reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. One of her famous quotes from this novel is: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” - Virginia Woolf.

In this quote, and throughout the rest of the novel, Woolf highlights that in-order for women to be able to write fiction, they must have money, time, and privacy. With these three things women would have the mental, physical, and financial space to be able to read, and develop creative ideas to write about. Women in literature leading up to the 18th century were rare, and womens’ circumstances were the cause of this. Think about the process of writing, it requires an immense amount of time, time that women weren’t allowed to have.

18th century gender roles for women living in patriarchal societies, occupied women with domestic tasks. If a woman had aspirations to write, her goals often got thrown to the corner. In modern day, women and men both collectively perform domestic tasks, but in some cases, women still do all, and are given no free time.

Students at a lecture by Prof. Leopold Schönbauer, 1948 Photo by Austrian National Library from Unsplash

 

Throughout history, women in literature were rare, and the ones who chose to write barely succeeded. What a woman wrote was considered foolish. That’s why women didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. It was widely believed that women can never have the capabilities to go to school and intelligence to write sensibly. They were told to stay at home and were given the unwanted “common sense” tasks, domestic tasks. Keeping women out of school was a way to silence women because in a patriarchal society, giving women education rights meant giving them freedom. With freedom they would no longer tolerate oppression.

Writing with the same skill level, or even greater skill level than men, and not being recognized for the same talent, is exhausting. It’s degrading. It discourages women writers. To know that this was the experience of women writers in the past can make it uncomfortable for women writers today. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Like anything in life, writing is what you make it. As a woman writer, writing is empowering. It sparks the creative side of my brain, a side I never knew I had, until I started writing.

grateful journal Photo by Gabrielle Henderson from Unsplash

To my fellow woman aspiring writers:

It’s okay to feel discouraged as a writer, but never stop writing. I’ve been told countless times that my grammar is bad, I don't know how to spell, my argument doesn’t make sense, my writing is fractured. But wouldn’t I be a fool if I let others peoples comments stop me from doing what I like. Negative comments are nothing but a part of the writing process. Another discouraging aspect of writing that doesn't have to be discouraging is writer's block. Writer's block can be a blessing. What if writer's block is stopping you because you're going down the wrong path. It’s stopping you because what you want to write isn’t your best form of writing. 

 

woman wearing green graduation cap Juan Ramos/Unsplash

Let's get back to the topic of being a woman writer. Being a woman writer means being strong, capable, so capable that our capabilities intimidated men in the past. They had to silence us, why? Cause they were scared we would be greater. Men authors were afraid that women authors would take their jobs. It may sound like I’m making a crazy assumption, but realistically what's another conclusion you can come to?

Fun Fact: Did you know that the world’s bestselling fiction author is Agatha Christie… A woman. If being a woman isn’t powerful, I don't know what is…

To all women aspiring writers, applaud yourself for writing. For being able to write, is an opportunity that our female ancestors were denied, but you are blessed to take. Continue to write, and remember you can do anything that you put your mind to. Don’t compare your writing to others. For any human to be able to write, depends on their circumstances, not so much their capabilities. If time allows, anyone could learn how to do anything.