Before we even ordered our beers, he had found five ways to insult me. This wasn't a date. This was a meeting between two writers. We had presumably come to the bar to brainstorm and critique each other's work like adults. I quickly learned that he saw this as a competition.
I guess he considered me a threat because I had far more bylines, ran a micro-press, and worked as a staff magazine editor, while he toiled away in retail. He wanted to put on his gloves and leave me bare-fisted as he dealt me low blows about my age (three years his junior), my hometown, my family, and, yes, my sex.
But I didn't care. The way I saw it, I was the one wearing gloves and he was going without. Because, for me, it wasn't about numbers; it was about words and stories and characters. I would write even if it meant never seeing my name in print. So I let him rant and drink too much until I was done laughing at his pitiful punches.
This fella embodied the archetype of the Sexist Writer, specifically the frustrated variety (but their accomplished brothers can be just as bad, if not worse). You, fellow female writer, have likely met one of these insecure men, too. You'll know because you've heard him say one or more of the following things:
1. "So, do you write chick lit or teen vampire romances?"
2. "One of my favorite books is -- well, you probably haven't read it. There's lots of sex and violence."
3. "But you'll stop writing when you have kids, right?"
4. "Most of the women writers I've met aren't actually writers, but maybe you're different. You sound smarter."
5. "Of course you'll sell books! Look at your [insert body part here]."
6. "Do your breasts ever get in the way of your arm when you're writing?"
7. "Do you exercise during your writing breaks? Sitting at a desk all day can really make a girl fat."
8. "When you talk... you sound so masculine. You must have a man's brain."
9. "In the time it takes you to get dressed, do your hair, and put on your makeup, I can write a chapter."
10. "I just don't think it's possible for women to write books men will want to read, but I know exactly how to write for women."
11. "Throughout history, women didn't write because they were too busy fretting over their petticoats."
12. "They designed keyboards for men's hands, not women's hands, because men were meant to write."
13. "Yeah, I never read Harry Potter because a woman wrote it."
14. "I hope your husband proofreads for you. Differentiating between a hyphen and a semicolon is not women's work."
15. "Look, if writing doesn't work out for you, you can always get married and have kids."
16. "Adult women's writing isn't that much different from what they wrote as angsty teen girls. Boo-hoo, sorry you didn't get Prince Charming."
This first appeared in Women Writers, Women['s] Books.