Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Trust Factor

I know you are wondering what will happen when you write your memoir. Who can you trust? What will be said about you?  Are you being "too raw, too outspoken," in your memoir?

Women have always been concerned about this - and for good reason.  As Joanna Russ writes in her book, How to Suppress Women's Writing, women's memoir has always been denigrated as "confessionals" by "literati" of the male establishment.  Why?  Cultural messages try to obliterate and undermine the female experience.

Women have been subverted by other women in their quest to tell the truth of their lives.  Our "inferiority" is something they subscribe to. "Critics would have us believe that confessional literature is so personal in its content ... it has no value as literature," Russ writes.

Women telling the "raw truth" are subjected to the stereotype of the female artist as "personally unlovable..."  It is "precocious" and "unbecoming" to write. Why? We might do it as well - or better - than a man.

Anais Nin was told by her psychoanalyst, Otto Rank, "When the neurotic woman gets cured, she becomes a woman. When the neurotic man becomes cured, he becomes an artist."

Anyone who has seen the movie, "Black Swan"  knows this.  Here we find the quintessential woman's story - the quest for perfection in an attempt to please a man and to find meaning as a woman.  But to what gain? Worse, who to trust?  Other women?  No, they are often our competitors.  Men? No, they want us and then discard when they are done, moving on to the younger, more impressionable ingenue.

We should believe in our artistry and value our stories.  We should stop worrying how we will be perceived and who we need to please and just get on with it. We should trust in and believe in ourselves.

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