Off to the Autorinnenforum – and my ghost keeps writing

June 7, 2007 at 11:09 am | Posted in Gender, Literature, Women | 5 Comments
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Tomorrow in the very early morning I am going to get on a train to Zürich-Flughafen
and from there take a plane to Berlin to visit some friends and the attend the Autorinnenforum, the actual reason of going to Berlin. It’s going to be a six-day-event and I suppose that can only mean that the majority of those who are going to attend do NOT have day jobs to tend to (unlike me). The list of participants is out now, the names of nine women at the bottom appear out of alphabetical order, including mine – I take this as an indicator that my name was on indeed on the waiting list, and 9 sounds to me like a relatively high number of people who decided they couldn’t make it (probably those with days jobs).

I am both excited to go and a little concerned: after all, I am going to attend a meeting where the main criterion of selection is going to be sex (not even gender). But that’s not the top-most criterion of my social selection. In a random group of people, I might begin by introducing myself to the females, but at the end of the day I would probably have had more significant exchanges with men than with women. Who’s to blame – me or the women (or the men, maybe?) The good thing is, however, the older you get, the less you will be confronted with random groups, which raises the ratio of interesting women tremendously.

As a teenager, I found the process of social gender formation extremely painful – I observed how the girls in my age group slowly transformed into little women, but the result was nothing but appalling to me. They talked nonsense most of the time and began to bounce their boobs, shake their hair and show their bellies. They also began to develop a typical co-dependent female identity – dependent upon the approval and attention of the boys (of course I wasn’t able to describe it with such terms back then). It was next to impossible to have a decent conversation with them – and at a slightly later stage of being a teenager, I found out that decent conversations with guys were well possible.

Of course there were exceptions from the rule – I know that the women that I care about today made similar experiences back then, and also that until today their guest lists are often dominated by men. The question has also to be raised whether we – as former guy-girls (Kumpelmädels) – aren’t probably sometimes a bit biased toward other women. At the place where I (still, but not for very much longer) work, I initiated a women’s circle a while ago – that’s nothing that was to be expected from me, but there was an apparent need for networking among the women. And I was surprised to see how much I enjoyed the meetings – of course this wasn’t a random selection of women either, with all of them having a master’s degree or even a doctorate. Most of these women are ten or more years older than me, and that also made things easier, I guess, as undoubtedly these women know a lot and have an incredible amount of experience to share.

So if the women I am going to encounter at the women writers forum are all going to be like them, I will be fine. I also don’t think that I must expect a significant amount of mainstream, I-stopped-developing-my-identity-when-I-snared-myself-a-husband females (they still exist – I just had an irritating encounter with one of our former secretaries who is my age and does nothing but push her pram about town ever since she married and had her first child a year ago – it was hard to talk to her before, now it has become next to impossible). But I am a little afraid of an encounter with women who are keen on all that talk about the superior emotional intelligence of women, generally with women who think that a room full of women is per se better than anything else, and I am also a little of afraid of a particular type of literature that is considered feminine, which often doesn’t have a plot but offers lengthy examinations of altering emotions. So I admit that I am a bit afraid of écriture féminine. Or actually: not of écriture féminine, but of lame attempts at écriture féminine, and of people who think that a text, by virtue of being enigmatic and being written by a female, must be of superior quality. I hope there isn’t going to be much of that.

Other than that: Although I am away, the posts will keep coming. I couldn’t sleep last light and cranked out quite a few which are timed to be published over the next few days.

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