Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Numbers, Gender, Inertia

Happy Halloween. I am a sick person for Halloween, with more of a chest cough and less of a fever than yesterday. But I am sick. More sick than I've been in at least three years.

Conversation continues over at Rhubarb is Susan in various ways. Linda Russo posted a comment there that articulates much of what I agree is very useful about Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young's research. I'm glad that this conversation is happening in multiple ways, and in multiple places.

It wasn't my intention to turn the conversation into a conversation about Pussipo, but here I am, mentioning us again. Ambivalent is my word of the week. I am ambivalent about women's only spaces. What that means is I think that they are valuable...I wish that everyone could feel a certain basic level of comfort and ease everywhere, but they don't. And can't.

I nearly went to Barnard, but decided not to after attending an orientation session for accepted freshmen. I grew up around boys, and had only one good female friend in high school (who went to Bryn Mawyr and loved it). I realized I didn't want to be in a women-only environment and, moreover, I wasn't comfortable in one. I don't think it's an accident that as an undergraduate I studied political science, a field that is really perfect for having macho showdowns of wit and knowledge. If done well, I enjoy macho showdowns of wit and knowledge, both as participant and observer.

I'm more comfortable in women-centered environments, now, but it's a learning process. Pussipo is a network and a resource I turn to for conversation and input about all sorts of things. Mark & I live in Carlsbad, CA--no one is coming over on a Wednesday night to hang out and talk poetry, or anything else. The people on that list are my peers--not my only peers, but a substantial percentage of them. Conversation is good.

5 comments:

shanna said...

I feel basically the same. I'm also much more comfortable in a mixed group, but as even Simon points out himself, there are a lot of gender-specific reasons for such a group on the internet. When so many women report feeling too vulnerable to blog, or simply turned off by the tone of many online interactions, an alternative seems like a smart idea. That's why I signed up--to talk online with the women I would not otherwise get to talk to, because I don't already know them, and because they are hesitant or resistant to being "out here" for perfectly understandable reasons.

Still reading both Stephanie & Juliana's piece as well as Jennifer Ashton's...hope to catch up today.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Hi Shanna,

Yes, agreed, agreed, especially with this: "That's why I signed up--to talk online with the women I would not otherwise get to talk to, because I don't already know them, and because they are hesitant or resistant to being "out here" for perfectly understandable reasons."

It's helpful for me to hear that there are women who feel more comfortable in mixed-gender context but who also recognize the need and usefulness of women's only spaces.

I, too, am catching up on reading. More conversation to follow!

anne said...

I started it, and I feel ambivalent about women's only spaces, as I think I stated in the very first invitation to the list. It is, after all, an *experiment*. I wanted to see what would happen. Now I am seeing.

Anne

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Hi Anne,

Right, all of that is helpful to remember, and as an actual space (and experiment) it continues to be helpful and interesting.

Elisa Gabbert said...

I also prefer mixed company in the "real world," but in the real world I get to select where I go and who I hang out with. Online anyone can butt in. So I agree with you all for those reasons.

I really appreciated JS and SY's article. I didn't think it was overfocused on the numbers at all...but more a wake-up call to everyone who has complacently decided that everything is "even" now in publishing. Of course it is not a solution for every single anthology/journal/press to be exactly 50/50, but if the general averages don't work out that way, it points to a larger problem.