So now “lady mayor” is a thing. Thank you, Haley Barbour, fount of real-‘Murican wisdom, for setting us straight on that one in your reference to Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, NJ. She can’t just be plain old “mayor,” because the default model for any such Important Occupation is clearly male–hence the need for the “lady” qualifier. Which got me thinking–if Dawn Zimmer is a lady mayor, then I must be a lady writer. An unusual creature, unexpected in the grand scheme of How The World is Meant to Be, rather like a talking poodle. Or perhaps a fluffy kitten that somehow manages to walk upright and discuss weighty intellectual subjects like “pro-growth economic policy” and “making tough choices” while tossing back pricey scotch with other Masters of the Universe in smoky back rooms.
So just what is a “lady writer,” and what is the lady-writing process? Clearly, us ladies doing important things out in the world, like writing or governing, is an anomaly. Mysterious creatures that we are, unable to control our libidos without help from “Uncle Sugar” and so deeply un-thoughtful that we have to have pregnancy and fetal development mansplained to us by statute lest we make the wrong choices about our own fertility, we can’t possibly do things the same way as men do them. Men and women are not, after all, fundamentally just human beings and therefore pretty much the same. No, us ladies are different. With a capital D. Therefore, I thought I should take a little time to woman-splain how us lady writers do what we do.
First, we get an idea. I know, I know, that sounds just like how writers (meaning guy writers, of course–see “default model,” above) get started. But bear with me.
Once we have an idea, we think about it. Write it down. Kick its tires a little, take it for a test spin to see if it has staying power. (After all, if you’re going to write a 300-plus page novel, your idea better be big enough to sustain that structure.) Our idea can take many forms–a theme, a character, an incident in our lives that stuck with us, something we read someplace that sparked a “what-if” moment in our brains. We do have them, in case you were wondering. Brains, that is. And guess what–they function pretty much like guy brains do. Except maybe we’re a little quicker with words than you gents. But that’s at the broad-brushstroke level, a predisposition so general it becomes meaningless once you get down to individuals.
So, the idea. The initial think-it-out, write-stuff-down steps. Then we kick back, have a manicure or pop a birth-control pill or go shop for shoes, or something else us ladies love to do. Because we can’t handle bothering our pretty heads for too long about anything that doesn’t have to do with clothes or boys or sex or maybe recipes. Amirite, Mr. Barbour? Mr. Huckabee? Anyone who’s been shooting off his mouth about “ladies” lately, without engaging what passes for his brain first?
Okay, I’m snarking. There is no “lady-writing” process. Just like there are no lady mayors, or “lady” anything else. There are mayors, and writers, and all kinds of other things, and some of the people doing those things are women. Others are men. All are human beings, with the same capacity for intelligence, thoughtfulness, competence, creativity, hard work, and everything else us humans have in common.
So I guess there’s only one thing I may still need the Haley Barbours and Mike Huckabees of the world to mansplain to me. Why do they find this simple truth so hard to understand?