Poetry News

Lest We Forget, #MeToo Is a Literary Movement Too

By Harriet Staff

Katy Waldman makes sure we remember that the year-old #MeToo movement is a literary one. After moving through some of the more recognizable downfalls, like Junot Díaz, [the work of] Philip Roth, and John Hockenberry, she turns to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. "Meanwhile, tales of female suffering, though profuse, are often dismissed as trivial or self-indulgent. [...] This vision of authorship, which privileges the subjective and the tragic—and which also underpins the mostly female genre of the harrowing first-person essay—reflects an understanding that women cannot be trusted to be impartial or truthful," she writes. More, at the New Yorker:

Yet if women lack the intellectual authority to interpret reality, they also lack the creative authority to invent it. Female writers can only write about themselves, it seems: even when they appear to be hatching fantasies, they are actually producing roman à clef. After Kristen Roupenian’s short story “Cat Person” was published, in The New Yorker, and became a viral sensation, some readers reacted as though the author had crafted an autobiographical piece about a tricky sexual encounter rather than a work of fiction exploring the occluded intricacy of other minds. “Stop Reading My Fiction as the Story of My Life,” begs an editorial by the novelist Jami Attenberg, from 2017, pointing out that one’s imagination “is a beautiful place to hide.” When female novelists write about female characters, or domesticity, or children, they face subtle charges of self-absorption—their perspectives classified as all-too-knowable and thus not worth knowing. (Meanwhile: Karl Ove Knausgaard.)

Read on at the New Yorker.

Originally Published: October 12th, 2018