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Sunday, November 4, 2007

On purity

Says Ange: "Most women I know who withhold their work are proud of not hustling, not playing the game, keeping themselves pure."

Update: use this link instead. (So much for permalinks at the Harriet blog.) This repost has a different URL and more comments.

Yeah, it's a neat trick, isn't it? Convincing women to internalize their own marginalization by "disapproving" anytime they ask for the attention of a reader or reviewer simply by putting their work out there, as if that's not the most natural thing in the world for a writer to be doing. Sniping at them for their ambition or "careerism" or self-promotion. Telling them they are "naturally reticent" or "ambivalent about ambition" so that if they are not it becomes clear they should consider themselves freakish.

Having spent the last year and a half reading 19th century books addressed to young women filled with loads of advice on remaining chaste, appearing ladylike, etc., I am struck (as Ange is) by the word choice: purity.

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