Log in

No account? Create an account
04 August 2012 @ 10:36 am
Is this the worst article, or THE WORST article?


This is male privilege: not having people speculate about whether, no matter the height of your intellectual and literary achievements, you wouldn't *really* have been a better writer (and human) if you'd had children - if your work would have been less limited, your experience of life deeper and richer. Because everyone knows that a woman can't be fulfilled as a human without having children. And they can't write *real* books without this experience:

" Binchy, whose first novel was about a 20-year friendship between two women, didn’t need the experience of motherhood to write about love and friendship in a way that charmed millions. But she might have dug deeper, charming less but enlightening more, had she done so."

Take note, ladies. Without the experience of childbirth and child-rearing, all you can do as a writer is *charm*. And if you *want* to write charming books, well. You just don't know any better yet, because you're not a real, self-possessed writer and person, who takes stock of what she wants her literary subject to be. You see, you're still unfinished, not quite a grown-up. You'll never be a grown-up, not until you start "putting yourself last" and take care of your kids.
litlover12 on August 4th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)

Excuse me, Ms. Craig, but I think your own insecurities are showing.
tempestsarekind: facepalmtempestsarekind on August 4th, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
YES. Motherhood is obviously a great and worthy task, but what's with the assumption that it's the only way to really be a woman?

Though sadly, this does seem to be a common enough view...
litlover12 on August 4th, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
Yes, indeed.

I wouldn't even argue against the idea that it's good to learn to put others first -- good for one's character even if it might be hard on one's career. But, contrary to what so many people seem to believe, you can do that even without having children!
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on August 5th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
Yes! I agree that learning to put others first sometimes is a good thing - but it seems to be the case that only women are asked to do it as a matter of course. I can't imagine an article about a male author suggesting that his work would have been better if he'd learned to put others first, because even when we freely acknowledge that some male artist is a jerk as a human being, his work remains separate ("horrible man; great artist"), if we don't assume that it's his freedom from the rules of civility and decency that allowed him to be great in the first place.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on August 4th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
GRRRRRRR, and this is from a writer who is a mother and grandmoter.

Edited at 2012-08-04 03:20 pm (UTC)
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on August 5th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
There's absolutely a line between "mothers can be great artists and make great art about motherhood (or anything else they like) and "women can only really be great artists if they are mothers," and this article sailed *way* over that line!
cschellscschells on August 4th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Because when I think of Simone de Beauvoir, I definitely think of books that are limited in their enlightenment by their charm...
tempestsarekind: hey nonny nonnytempestsarekind on August 5th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
You can't be charming and insightful! Everyone knows that! Charm is childish and insignificant. Like comedy.
Leucothealeucotheasveil on August 4th, 2012 04:13 pm (UTC)
Is it that slow a news day that he has to pick on childfree women?
You should cross post this to childfree30plus, or one of the other CF communities.

Noone ever says things like that to men, probably because if they did happen to knock somebody up, "great men" have a higher calling and its okay if they are absent of lousy fathers, so people dont make the distinction of whether they had kids or not.

Leucothealeucotheasveil on August 4th, 2012 04:23 pm (UTC)
Re: read article
That grates even more.
If you had kids and regret it because you blame them for ruining your holidays...
Don't take it o ut on the departed.
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on August 5th, 2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
Re: read article
Yes, absolutely: no one suggests that about men; you can be a horrible father - or person - and still be a great artist. And this self-aggrandizing piece on how only mothers can be really good writers just takes the cake. Like, it's great for you, writer of article, that motherhood has made you a better person, but that doesn't mean that women without children are somehow unfinished or arrested in their development as humans or as artists.
Neaneadods on August 6th, 2012 10:15 am (UTC)
Re: read article
This was written by a woman? Someone's feelong defensive about her life choices, methinks... And it isn't famously single authors.

Feeling. Damned Ipad touchscreen!

Edited at 2012-08-06 10:15 am (UTC)
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on August 6th, 2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: read article
Yeah. Normally I dislike using defensiveness as a hypothesis, but when the shoe fits...
La Reine Noire: Austen - Venting Spleenlareinenoire on August 4th, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)

This is why I don't watch biopics of writers I love.* Because they always, always, make it about either having children or not having children. Bah.

* Well, mostly. I have a somewhat shameful love for Dangerous Beauty in spite of its inaccuracies, enough that I showed it to my students, forgetting exactly how much onscreen sex there was...
tempestsarekind: austen snark is the best snarktempestsarekind on August 5th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
Indeed! I'm *still* mad about Becoming Jane (which, I guess, is *technically* about romance rather than children, but it's more or less the same thing). I really liked Miss Austen Regrets, actually, because despite the title (I'll forgive it for the play on "Miss Otis Regrets"), it at least has Austen saying, no, I *chose* this life, and it's made me happier than anything else. Also, Olivia Williams plays Jane Austen, which is everything that is awesome.

I should see Dangerous Beauty again at some point; I watched it in college with friends and remember liking it. I don't really know anything about Veronica Franco, though, so perhaps I would be less affected by its inaccuracies. :)
La Reine Noire: Wimminz!lareinenoire on August 5th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
I actually found the inaccuracies very useful for teaching purposes because it made my students think about the way modern writers re-imagine early modern women, not to mention the kinds of assumptions people still have regarding what women artists can or cannot do (c.f. your post about that awful article about Maeve Binchy).

I remember when Miss Austen Regrets aired and I meant to watch it but never got round to it. I knew Becoming Jane would annoy me despite how much I like both Anne Hathaway and James MacAvoy...

Although, speaking of Austen, I am reading Death Comes to Pemberley and it's quite good. It is heartening to know that good Austen-fic is possible.
tempestsarekind: very few dates in this historytempestsarekind on August 6th, 2012 06:49 am (UTC)
That makes sense! Becoming Jane - which I only watched for the sake of my tutorial - made me predictably livid, but we did actually get a pretty good discussion out of it.

It's good to hear that Death Comes to Pemberley is good, though. Something positive to balance out all these weird thriller versions of NA and erotic additions to Austen's texts that are currently in the works...
La Reine Noire: Victorian Fanlareinenoire on August 6th, 2012 03:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, P.D. James manages a pretty good Austen-pastiche voice and her characterization is consistent. I do think it would have worked perfectly well as a generic Regency romance in that it didn't need to be about the characters from P&P, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, all told. I have to admit, my favourite bits were probably the fake letters from Lady Catherine de Bourgh, because they were perfect. Also, the lovely little details fleshed out of the original novel, particularly the bits about Charlotte Lucas, added a lot.
tempestsarekind: elizabethtempestsarekind on August 6th, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
It's probably better than the reverse - that the *only* accurate thing about it is that it uses characters from the original!
Magistrix Texan: Fuuuck you!erstwhiletexan on August 4th, 2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
GRAH!!!!! *Hulks out, smashes everything*
tempestsarekind: excuse me whattempestsarekind on August 5th, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
*joins you in smashing*
ramblin' girlbarefoottomboy on August 6th, 2012 12:07 am (UTC)

tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on August 6th, 2012 06:45 am (UTC)
Neaneadods on August 6th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
Poor Jane Austen. Her books will be ignored by schools and readers any century now... Sad little Charlotte Bronte; we all know that Jane Eyre is nothing but charm and fluff.

I don't think Edith Wharton had any kids either; and The Custom of the Country and Age of Innocence may *seem* charming, but...

Edited at 2012-08-06 12:57 am (UTC)
tempestsarekind: austen snark is the best snarktempestsarekind on August 6th, 2012 06:44 am (UTC)
But if Austen had had children, she would have moved past her obsession with writing about romance! (That's actually a paraphrase from the article, for heaven's sake.) The whole thing is so inexplicable.
Neaneadods on August 6th, 2012 10:12 am (UTC)
Oh, baaaarf!
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on August 6th, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
harder, harder, hardest; i am the artist: childfree -- Lit21C | poolradiantbaby on August 7th, 2012 09:20 am (UTC)
As a childfree woman this just annoys the hell out of me. :(
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on August 7th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Me too! It's so dismissive and insulting.