Joan Didion on being a woman among men
Picture of the author ca. 1977, courtesy of the AP.
"When I was starting to write—in the late fifties, early sixties—there was a kind of social tradition in which male novelists could operate. Hard drinkers, bad livers. Wives, wars, big fish, Africa, Paris, no second acts. A man who wrote novels had a role in the world, and he could play that role and do whatever he wanted behind it. A woman who wrote novels had no particular role. Women who wrote novels were quite often perceived as invalids. Carson McCullers, Jane Bowles. Flannery O'Connor, of course. Novels by women tended to be described, even by their publishers, as sensitive. I’m not sure this is so true anymore, but it certainly was at the time, and I didn’t much like it. I dealt with it the same way I deal with everything. I just tended my own garden, didn’t pay much attention, behaved—I suppose—deviously. I mean I didn’t actually let too many people know what I was doing."
- Joan Didion in her Paris Review Interview
We have met many men and women who have an idea of what role we (ought to) play as “lady priests.” There are so many tacks to take; some will do the same as Didion, and some of our sisters will be a bit louder about who they are and how they behave. Surely the hope is that we will be able to appreciate each other's approaches, their pros and cons and possibilities.