In amongst the fray this week, I read an interesting comment on this post from a reader who questioned why female writers and columnists (hi!) take the piss out of ourselves so much. She wrote:
I have been thinking about this post and the Body Image Advisory Group and I have a question: Why is it that female writers often poke fun of themselves? This is a genuine question!!
There are so many witty Australian female writers out there, and I count you among them. However I find that the humour of the columns often comes at the expense of the writer themselves. Every now and then you write a post which I think fits this mould, like parts of the one above. I also think Jacqueline Lunn is a master at it, and I stopped reading her columns for this reason. I got very sick of reading about her disheveled appearance, unkempt hair, untidy house, lack of a social life… even though her columns were often funny.
Perhaps the aim of such columns is to make us feel better: if Jacqueline publicly admits she is crap at this or that, we’re all supposed to feel OK about being a bit crap at things ourselves. But I think the empowering thing would be to write about things that she CAN do, that she is GREAT at, things that INSPIRE her readers. They can be funny too, can’t they? And wouldn’t that make us ALL – the writer and the readers – feel better?
Sam de Brito may be a self-confessed wanker, but when was the last time you read a column in which he derided himself to get a laugh? He sometimes admits his mistakes and regrets, yet he never conveys himself as some kind of pathetic, unattractive, embarrasing, woeful failure. I don’t think it would even occur to him to write any story that would convey him in that way!!!”
By spooky co-incidence, the day I read “August”s comment, I happened to be having dinner with Jacqueline Lunn and another female columnist, Sophie Lee, who writes for the Sunday Magazine. Since the three of us write in this similar way about similar subject matter (life, kids etc) I thought I’d throw the question to my friends over a lychee Mohito. Or four.
Why do we so many female writers go the self-deprecating route instead of writing about all the things we’re good at?