I have learned that there are two primary questions that get asked when people hear that I’ve published a book about heroines. One is “why?” and the other is “what’s your next book going to be?” Though I appreciate both, the follow-up to the second question is often “Oh, so are you going to write a companion book about literary heroes?” and though I strive to be good-natured, there is only one answer.
It’s not just my die-hard feminism, I promise. Or the fact that I was educated at a women’s college, or that I proudly donate to Planned Parenthood and covet This is What a Feminist Looks Like tees. It’s not even that I don’t like books written by men or literary heroes in general…how could any lover of books turn away from literature written by one gender or the other? (Even though some do, and it’s often woman-written books they shun, and that’s probably another blog post now, isn’t it?)
It’s that come on, guys, if you go into a library or book store you will find hundreds, thousands, millions of volumes all dedicated to the greatness of male heroes and their accomplishments and contributions to society, culture, literature, and humankind. Now that I’ve turned my pen to the accomplishments of literary women, am I really required to make up for it by writing another addition to the annals of books about why guys are great?
Can we really expect parity and equality and celebration and progress if we keep brushing aside the accomplishments of fifty percent of human beings? I mean, we still live in a world where Rosalind Franklin’s contributions to the discovery of DNA are brushed under the Watson and Crick rug, where Anne Frank is written off as a childish writer and a girl to boot, where Condoleezza Rice is asked more about her marital status than her accomplishments as Secretary of State.
I am sorry if this is offensive to any of you, my dear readers. And it’s not to say that I don’t give anyone currently engaged in writing about the deeds of great men my blessing, because they are more than welcome to write whatever moves them. I’m just surprised at the impulse some people have to imply that I am required to contribute to already very well-covered territory. To each his or her own.