#ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear and #WhatWoCWritersHear

Deepali Agarwal

Staff Writer

Deepali Agarwal has a Master’s in literary linguistics, which means that every person she’s ever known has, at some point, asked her to ‘edit a thing’ for them-- ‘just see if it reads okay?’ She doesn’t mind, because she believes that the world can be fixed one oxford comma at a time. Deepali lives in Delhi, the capital of India, where cows are sacred, but authors and poets exist and write brilliant things. She works as an editor with OUP India’s School ELT division, where she moves apostrophes, looks up pictures of cats, and talks about children’s books for eight hours. The rest of her day is spent reading, thinking about Parks and Recreation, and wondering if there exist jobs for English majors that pay more than peanuts. Twitter: @DeepaliAgarwal_

Chocolat author Joanne Harris starting a hashtag on Monday called #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear, with stories ranging from casual to blatant sexism she faces as a woman writer. The hashtag was quickly amplified by many female authors on Twitter, including V.E Schwab, Cheryl Strayed, and Jodi Picoult:

peak mansplaining:

because while wit in men is desirable, in women it is something to ‘handle’, yes?

ah yes, “boy books”

I thought scrolling through the hashtag was infuriating and distressful by itself, but meet the people who think this is “victim mentality” and uncalled for:

Dear book people on the internet, here’s the thing. When a group of people who have been there and done that tell you that they face a certain, rampant problem in publishing, and have been, their entire careers, you do not belittle their concerns. You do not label it as whining, you do not tell them that things like grants, meant to empower, are privileges. You do not try to convert their rage into something meaningless. I can guarantee you that women would absolutely love to not have to be at the receiving end of insults and harassment and underhanded snark.

Dear women who are criticizing this as victim mentality, you break my heart. Recognize the fact that in the case that you have not yourself faced any of these issues, you are one of few lucky, privileged souls. Your nationality, or race, perhaps, shields you from this ugliness. Listen to those who don’t have it this easy. Amplify their voices. Follow #WhatWoCWritersHear (started by L.L. McKinney, @ElleOnWords), because let’s face it, if white women are receiving comments that make them feel invalidated, women of colour have seen and heard worse from white literary agents and editors because the world is a garbage fire.

Editor’s note: this post was updated to credit the creator of the #WhatWoCWritersHear hashtag