Years ago I started writing what I intended to be an adventure series for young women. In what was a particularly dark time for me in 2007, I threw my work out and instead focused on a particularly depressing line of poetry.
18 months ago, my brother (my muse and my pillar of logic when I possess all but that), started to open up to me about his own writing and looking for some creative counsel. It was my brother’s openness and acceptance of my own ideas that made me decide to resume my writing, but this time there would be a difference.
Struggling with depression and anxiety for, what some might call an overwhelming part of 2007 to recent times, led me to choose my own company, the company of the only boy I’ll ever really love (my cat) and of course the wonderful world of television and film characters over trying to face what lay outside the comfort of my bedroom. Anyone who has seen first hand the manifestation of mental health will know that there are good days, there are ok days, but there are many bad days and even some ‘I just can’t get out of bed’ days. It was these latter days (that I refer to as ‘fat’ days due to their generally being filled with over consumption of food and very little movement), where I would often immerse myself in the various media available to me. What I started to see was that I was dissatisfied with the way in which women were portrayed. I can remember when I watched the first episode of Mad Men finding it difficult to handle the (intentional) sexism representative of that time. I then started thinking: ‘Wow! We have come a long way since then!’ Since then I have gone further: Have we come far enough? If this is how I feel about the attitude towards women 50 years ago, how will our descendants feel about our attitude 50 years from now? I then reassessed how my own thoughts/behaviours/actions were embedded in a culture of sexism, both influenced by it and contained by it.
So I was inundated with questions. Was I going to let my contribution to the world entrench that sexism further? Was my writing going to follow the same narrative as a lot of female directed youth fiction, in which most female characters lack confidence and swoon, indecisively between male characters; decorations to be possessed rather than valued and respected for their contribution? Or even perhaps inadvertently sexist, would I write women that weren’t these things to be somehow an anomaly; a social outcast; a person known for being different than the rest of their gender? This self-assessment took me to an unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable and confronting place. A place where I realised that I didn’t really know enough about the entrenchment of sexism in various mediums to be able to avoid the same in my writing and that this was a bad thing.
Hence this blog. This isn’t an exercise in online popularity or marketing. I do not proclaim to be the paragon of all knowledge pertaining to the gender bias faced by women, nor do I want to become that. Far from it. I simply want to document my feelings about the process of discovery I am embarking on as a means of improving my own writing product, and hope I take at least one person along for the ride.
For my Mother, my Grandmother and my best friend Michelle: the three strongest, most influential and wonderful humans in my life.