Friday, November 9, 2007


I have a few pet peeves pertaining to the way people write about women, and about the way people write about women writers. Some of them, we women bring upon ourselves. Goddess help us! (There's one right there!)
Here is a starter list:

1. The word herstory. Nancy Dye, president of Oberlin and powerful and practicing feminist, corrected this in a seminar I took with her sophomore year--it's false etymology ("history" does not derive from "his story.") Like "mandals" or "labradoodle," it may sound cute the first few times, then just gets cringey.

2. Is wimmin the plural of womyn? I never understood that. With all due respect to the great second wave feminist forebears upon whose shoulders I stand, etc., must we still employ these awkward misspellings.
I'm not putting a question mark there because I actually don't mean it as a question.

3. Estrogen. Good god, are we not more than a hormone? I have seen countless female bands described as "estrogen-fueled," a music festival in Chicago last year called itself (cringe) EstroJam, and in this week's Willamette Week, this listing appears:
WORDSTOCK: Women & Words
A quartet of smart literary babes, Janet Fitch (White Oleander), Carole Radziwell (What Remains), Alexandra Fuller (Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight) and Karen Karbo (How to Hepburn), kick off Wordstock with a chat on all things estrogen. 7 pm.
Really? Is this really a "chat" about "all things estrogen?" For one, it sounds desperate, as if the listings writer can't think of anything else that might be common to female experience. For another, what are "all things estrogen"? How many "things" can there be? And for another, the operating assumption seems to be that if the writers are all women, they will speak solely of woman-things. (Instead of, for example, talking about writing books.) Would anyone ever describe a panel of four respected literary man-authors as "a chat on all things testosterone"? Totally lazy. At least if they got right to it and called it a hen party, it wouldn't sound like a menopause info sesh.

Plea to the verbal universe: Look, I know I can be hopelessly literal. But can we drop "estrogen" unless we're actually talking straight up hormone issues? I just don't feel that my artistic and literary impulses, or my sense of community, are secreted from a gland.

"A chat on all things brain"--that I would go to in a second.


Entiende said...

Chelsey, you are truly an estrogenius. Ps, I linked to your blog on my own, Just kidding. But not about the link; see

sebastianhope said...

Jesus, you women will complain about anything.