Over the past few days, women writers have united on Twitter under the hashtag #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear to exchange stories of the discrimination that exists in their profession.
The hashtag is gaining traction as the discussion broadens to educate the clueless and expose the double standards that exist.
Every day, women writers have to deal with being told what their content should be, who their demographic should include, and how to hide the feminine parts on their bodies to gain better standing with publishers.
The stories exchanged over this past week have stirred up outrage all over the world (especially #3, my goodness), and the hashtag is keeping momentum.
10. How The Hashtag Started
Author Joanne Harris was recently presented with a MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) award for her service to literature. People all over the world are holding her work, so naturally, she’s attracted both fans and critics. Joanne was getting tired of the sexist comments she was receiving, so she vented about it on Twitter.
“I don’t know of any male writer who has been criticized for neglecting his family life, or told he’s being selfish for wanting to write. Perhaps we need a hashtag: #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear.”
So that’s how it all began.
9. Sexism With A Sprinkle Of Holy Guilt
Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Out Of Sorts, had a unique perspective to share on what it feels like to deal with both sexism and legalism at the same time. Here is a taste of the comments she receives by men on a weekly basis: “I just don’t like theology books by women,” and, “So what does your husband think about your job?”
Sarah is known for uniting feminism and faith, so sometimes the most sexist comments she receives are written by women themselves.
8. Women Writers Are Continually Discredited
New York Times bestselling author and historian Deanna Raybourn shares of the discrimination she faces from men for her writing in historical fiction. She receives comments such as: “I’m not actually going to try reading this. I’m only buying it for my wife,” or, “I don’t usually read books by women.”
Deanna’s spent her career feeling like she’s had to prove herself. She’s pressured to convince men that she knows what she’s writing about.
Another author of historical fiction, Evian Carter, commented on the thread with a typical comment she receives from men, “You can’t write historical fiction about women, nothing would happen in the story.”
7. Sexism Says: If There’s Talent, There’s A Man Behind It
Ginger Anne London is a science fiction writer who’s used to having conversations with publishers that go a little something like this: “Publisher: ‘Blonde hair and young. We’ll be able to market you.’ Anne: ‘but what about my writing?’ Publisher: ‘Oh uh, yeah.'”
Ginger was one of the only science fiction writers to jump on Twitter to discuss the tension that exists. She added a comment that she recently received from a male reader, “There’s no way you wrote this alone without a man. There’s so much action and uniquely invented technology.”
6. When Male Fans Find Out Their Favorite Author Is Actually Female
Rin Chupeco writes thrillers that attract male audiences, and some of those fans never find out their favorite author is female. It makes for some not-so-hilarious exchanges, such as this one: “Guy: ‘let me explain this short story to you.’ Rin: ‘I wrote that story.’ Guy: ‘I’m sure it’s a guy’s. It’s good.'”
What does that even mean?
5. Some Women Change Their Names To Get Published
Director and Writer Victoria Mahoney jumped on Twitter to join the #WhatOnlyWomenWritersHear hashtag to explain how her career actually started, “I was told, ‘It’s too smart’ over and over. So I put Vic instead of Victoria on the exact same script and I never heard ‘too smart’ again.”
Author Shannon Hale commented with what she hears often in her career, “are you going to hide your first name with initials so people won’t know you’re a woman?” Sadly, this is a common experience for women writers.
4. How Sexists View The Home Lives Of Women Writers
Author Molly Harper started a theme on the hashtag that had to do with stories of sexism concerning marriage and female writers. This was one of her encounters: “Them: ‘You write from home full-time? But what do you do all day?’ Molly: ‘…I just told you…'”
Author Elizabeth Moon recalled something that was said to her and shared it on the hashtag, “You women writers steal our chances because you’re supported by husbands. You don’t need the money.”
Author Hanna Alkaf added a common dialogue between readers and women writers who are parents: “Them: ‘Wow, your husband babysits while you write? You’re so lucky!’ Hanna: ‘It’s called parenting. He’s their parent.'”
3. If You’re An Educated Woman Writer, You Must Have An Evil Agenda
Author and professional engineer Tricia Barr opened up dialogue on Twitter about educated women writers being viewed as a threat to society.
This was said to her, “Female writers have an agenda (with the unsaid being apparently male writers don’t.)”
Author Diana Gabaldon added that she was recently told, “We can’t put your degrees in your bio; it will intimidate your readers.”
2. Women Writers Are Told What Their Reader Demographic Should Be
Author Danielle Joseph, author of Shrinking Violet, gained lots of attention for adding her most common experience on the #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear hashtag, “Them: ‘Can boys read your books too?’ Danielle: ‘No, they are printed in girl ink.'”
Author Joanne Harris (mentioned earlier) added her experience on the topic. A publisher told her recently that, “Not having a pink jacket on a dark psychological thriller might alienate readers.”
1. If You’re A Woman, Naturally You Write Children’s Books
Most women have the same things said to them when people find out they write for a living. This was one of the most popular responses to female authors in the #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear hashtag: “You’re a writer? Neat! Do you write books for kids?”
Novelist and activist Pam Redmond Satran says the number one question she receives is, “Do you write children’s book?” Societal gender roles influence opinions on what women writers should be writing about.
These are but a few of the responses still pouring in under the #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear hashtag. The experiences of women writers continue to go viral as the hashtag gains attention. Women in the film industry are adding their experiences to the hashtag as well. It’s becoming a force of education that’s helping the ignorance of some and exposing the sexism of others.
If you’re a woman with a career in writing and have experiences to add, comment below. If you believe the experiences of women writers should continue to go viral, share with your friends!