Sunday, December 20, 2009

Disquieting News This Week

A well-known blogger outed himself as a her. She became a 'him' almost by accident; in the midst of trying to make a living as a writer, she used a male pen name, and acceptance of her/his work (and the pay for such) came much easier. So the pen name continued to be used. She was only acknowledging her gender because another writer (also a woman writing as a man) had blown the bugle, so to speak.

This is SO disquieting, on SO many levels.

First, what makes the second writer so superior that she felt she had to 'cast stones' at someone for doing exactly what she was doing?

Second, this completely blows my fervent hope that humans (or at least, those of us who live in supposedly civilized parts of the world) were moving past those prejudices against people based on gender, race, and so on. Apparently not, if women must use a male nom de plume in order to make a decent living as a writer. Bummer.

As I stewed about this turn of events, I wondered if I needed to take a male pen name. Women have been doing it since … forever, practically. Occasionally, a man will take a female pen name, but usually it's the other way around. Writers take a pen name for any number of reasons. There's even instructions in some of my reference books aimed at the beginning writer on how to correctly identify your work and pen name, without confusing the editors.

This particular instance sounded more serious – why would the acceptance and money be any different if the editors/clients had known they were dealing with a woman and not a man? So apparently, she had some way for them to issue checks to her as a man. Now, how did she do that? I've checked with a banker; I can't set up a bank account in a fictitious name. If I sign a check as "Female Name AKA Pen Name", the clients would soon figure out I'm female. (Or maybe not – these days, most banks do not return checks to the initiator like they did in the old days.) About the only thing we could figure out was that the writer needed to set up a business, have the checks made out to that business, and sign the checks as the owner of that business.

Obviously, hiding your gender as a writer is possible, at least for several years. Then what? Pick a new pen name and start again? I just find it so depressing that in this day and age, any of that is necessary. It's the twenty-first century, for crying out loud! Humans have made some wonderful progress in the last two thousand years, even in the last two hundred years. But I like to think 'progress' is not just technology, that it's also a way of thinking. In that respect, we haven't made nearly as much progress as I'd like.

Color me bummed. Trudy

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