The "W" Hour
This week my book, Diary of an On-Call Girl, has been dramatised for Woman's Hour. This means portions of it will be played/acted out twice a day from 15th-19th June. This makes it a good time to dredge up the old "W" word.
It's easy for female bloggers/police officers to play the Woman card, and claim unfair treatment by virtue of gender. But is there really any difference in the way I am treated by my readers, colleagues, or the public? I can't give a definitive answer, because I've never blogged as a man (nor dressed like one at work despite comments to the contrary). But I can point out some experiences I've had unlikely to be shared by a bloke in the same situation.
- Being referred to continually as "Ellie" in my comments pages, usually preceded by a patronising depiction of my work as ill-conceived or lacking depth. For "Ellie", one might substitute "woman" or "dear" (depending on the venom of the commenter).* The subtext being, you couldn't expect a woman to think this through properly. This isn't something I've seen in male bloggers' comments.
- Having readers evince an unhealthy interest in my looks. You might point out that to some extent I've encouraged this, with my book title, cover, and occasional flashing of my TITs.** But this still wouldn't happen to a male, nor could he try to make it.
- Hearing the response, "Really, but you don't look..." when I tell people what I do.
My overall experience has been that any disadvantage I feel by being a woman in a still male-dominated job is balanced by as many advantages. And that holds true for my writing too. There are things I'd like to change, largely surrounding attitudes towards sexual assault and rape. But I'm not a man-hating feminist, and I'm open-minded enough to see that some of the attitudes I revile are based on unpalatable truths, and it is the truths that need changing first.
If you haven't read my book, you can listen to bits of it this week - feedback is welcomed and will be fully incorporated into the sequel... if... when...
I know I must have some female readers out there, and I'd like to know your views on the above. Is it really harder being a woman, or do we just talk about it more?
* I should add I don't mind being referred to as Ellie, it's the context.
** As you will know, these are my Terrific Investigating Techniques.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.