In all aspects of life, women have always been shown the short end of the stick. Whether though wages, promotions, publishing, etc. women have had to work for what they wanted. Last semester, Fall 2016, I took a class that centered on the author Mary McCarthy who took the world by storm in the late 1960’s with her book The Group. Many, men especially, were utterly shocked with her book, its whole plot centered on the “secret life” of women; a world that needed to stay hidden. McCarthy, however, thought differently, thoughts that still has its effects today.
When The Group was first published it became an instance bestseller and remain that way for almost two years. However, it also started that whirlpool that is still spinning. In a review of the book by Norman Mailer, he stated, “a trivial lady writer’s novel that bears scarcely a trace of the wit, the sharpness and the vivacity which glowed so often in her earlier work. A well-deserved fiasco, if you ask me.” Mailer is saying that, in the simplest terms, writing this book was McCarthy’s worst mistake. A mistake that she began to hate herself for. All because a friend say she hated it. but in reality, it help women see that they could change their spots, “Miss McCarthy finally hates the most: the atmosphere of the period demanded of all the leopards that they work as hard as they could at doing something about their spots.” This book may of forced men to realized that the way that they treat women are horrible, and they know it. I mean why else would they have a reason to have secret lives and/or inappropriate thoughts?
In modern times, this book is still considered scandalous, but in a less tone. According to Kirkus Reviews,”This is the book which has aroused considerable advance speculation and well it might; it has a tremendous reader recognition (for a few—mottled with indignation) and there cannot be much doubt that Mary McCarthy is an exceptional social satirist, with a jackdaw eye and an infallible ear.” Reviews also mentions that “ there’s the evidence that Mary McCarthy can not only impale but move and there’s more than a little residual sympathy for those involved. It’s a stunning entertainment, with many special effects, the civilized intelligence, the style, the wit.” This highlights just how difference is shows between the years. Mailer hated the novel and society hide it away like a that chocolate cake your aren’t supposed to have on your diet. This book, unknown to me before i did research, may have helped in the creation of one of the most iconic television shows of all times; Sex and the City.
McCarthy started something that is still talked about today, she published a book that many considered feminist. However, it is more to that; she was among the first to show the world that women needed to be heard.
In 2015, Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century writer, Kevin Prufer interviewed VIDA co-owner Erin Belieu on why she chose to start VIDA. For those who don’t know, VIDA is a magazine that only publishes stories written by and about women writers. They wanted a way to allow women to get the right to be published, due to the fact that many publishing articles/companies chooses to publish more white, straight, males over females. One of the questions that Prufer asks is, “Do you have any personal experience with this kind of bias?” and Belieu answers, that she hasn’t personally experience this she knows of some examples. The one example that really got to me is when Belieu is asked by a staff member at Poetry if she knows female that deserved the award that they offered, she told him plenty of names. Only they choose to go with a white male guy.
It was really surprising that even in the publishing world, women have to work hard to get what they want. Simply because, even in the 21st century, men still believe that we are idiots and needed to be told what to do.
I don’t know about you, but if one day I choose to go down the publishing road, I will fight tooth and nail to show that I am just as capable as any male.