1.10.2010

this post was written without a penis

Further to the frustrations of being a freelance writer, could it be a was missing a crucial tool? That I lacked a member... ship to the right club? Did that explain why I didn't log the stories, nail the assignments, hit the jackpot?

In less metaphorical terms, did it all come down what is - and what isn't - in my pants?

Check this out, from a writer named James Chartrand.
One day, I tossed out a pen name, because I didn't want to be associated with my current business, the one that was still struggling to grow. I picked a name that sounded to me like it might convey a good business image. Like it might command respect.

Instantly, jobs became easier to get.

There was no haggling. There were compliments, there was respect. Clients hired me quickly, and when they received their work, they liked it just as quickly. There were fewer requests for revisions — often none at all.

Customer satisfaction shot through the roof. So did my pay rate.

. . .

I was still bringing in work with the other business, the one I ran under my real name. I was still marketing it. I was still applying for jobs — sometimes for the same jobs that I applied for using my pen name.

I landed clients and got work under both names. But it was much easier to do when I used my pen name.

Understand, I hadn't advertised more effectively or used social media — I hadn't figured that part out yet. I was applying in the same places. I was using the same methods. Even the work was the same.

In fact, everything was the same.

Except for the name.

The answer was plain. Without really thinking much about it, I tried an experiment when I chose my new pseudonym: I became a man (in name only).

In all honesty, I'm not really wondering if this is what happened to me. I don't think it is.

And there's an interesting story here, expanding on and partially debunking Chartrand's story. According to Amanda Hess, the writer did more than change her name: she adopted a sexist male persona, made herself part of a boys' club, and lied about much more than her name.

Nevertheless, history abounds with verifiable stories of women using men's names to get published, identical loan applications being denied based on gender, identical resumes being accepted or rejected according to the applicant's address (predominantly African-American neighbourhoods), and the like. Remember how George Constanza's mother doesn't want to take advice from Donna Chang, once she learns that Donna's not Asian? That's just a comic take on something that goes on all the time.

Thanks to James, via Mother Jones.

13 comments:

redsock said...

Estelle: You're not Chinese!?!?

Donna: No.

Estelle: I thought you were Chinese!!

Donna: I'm from Long Island.

Estelle: Long Island?!?! I thought I was gettin' advice from a Chinese woman!!

Donna: I'm sorry..?

Estelle: Well! Then, that changes everything!

George: What?!

Estelle: She's not Chinese; I was duped!!

George: So what?! She gave you advice; what's the difference if she's not Chinese?!?!

Estelle: I'm not taking advice from some girl from Long Island!!

L-girl said...

Estelle: I'm not taking advice from some girl from Long Island!!

And the unspoken lines: "From some [white, Jewish] girl from Long Island!!"

(Pronounced "lon-guyland," of course.)

Jere said...

The penis mightier....

L-girl said...

"The penis mightier..."

Chartrand named her male-run company "Men With Pens" and the logo is phallic. I was going to title this post "Men With Pen's" - kind of a triple-entendre, given my hatred of apostrophe abuse. But I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Allan suggested "This post written by Rod Johnson," or some similarly double-phallic name. (Peter O'Toole, Lance Johnson come to mind.)

L-girl said...

"The penis mightier..."

Chartrand named her male-run company "Men With Pens" and the logo is phallic. I was going to title this post "Men With Pen's" - kind of a triple-entendre, given my hatred of apostrophe abuse. But I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Allan suggested "This post written by Rod Johnson," or some similarly double-phallic name. (Peter O'Toole, Lance Johnson come to mind.)

johngoldfine said...

I sported a vagina when I was trying to brak into the romance novel biz....

johngoldfine said...

I just added 'In a Lonely Place' to my Netflix queue and notice that Humphrey Bogart played 'Dixon Steele'--manly enough, d'y'think?

L-girl said...

I sported a vagina when I was trying to brak into the romance novel biz....

A very helpful appendage in that field, I'm sure. Have you published any of those? I've heard it's a difficult nut to crack.

Ha! Another subconscious pun.

L-girl said...

I just added 'In a Lonely Place' to my Netflix queue and notice that Humphrey Bogart played 'Dixon Steele'--manly enough, d'y'think?

Oh ha ha ha, Dixon Steele, that is classic.

Bogart = my first movie/tv crush

johngoldfine said...

Close but no cigar as far as publishing went. My best effort got an editor's 'Heavens, not for our readers!' and sent me off into other fields of fiction.

Amy said...

Isn't this a tradition that goes all the way back to George Eliot and the Brontes? But then this IS 2010---one would have thought things would have changed!

L-girl said...

Amy, check out the "debunking" article I linked to. Interesting perspective.

Amy said...

Thanks for pointing me back to the link. That is interesting. Seems like some self-loathing going on...