How do women writers perceive themselves and their gender? Do they feel discriminated against for their gender? Does the tag of a woman writer bother them? Indian columnist and novelist Shobhaa De, Best Selling author Preeti Shenoy and mythology writer Kavita Kane were there at the Times Lit Fest 2019 at Indian Habitat Centre to share their perspectives on some of these questions. The panel was moderated by journalist and author Shaili Chopra, who is also the founder of SheThePeople.TV.

On being a woman writer

“I don’t see myself as a woman author. I see myself as a writer. I don’t like to be categorised as a ‘woman writer’.  I am told that we are looked at differently. Maybe, we are but I will not play into it. I will not go along with it because gender should be the last thing that should matter while picking up a book,” said Shobhaa De.

“They are ruthless in their criticism but I love this. They destroy my self-esteem every single morning.” – Shobhaa De

Preeti Shenoy said that India is immune to the gender of the writer. Dismissing stereotypes around the genres people think women writers stick to, she asserted that she knows some fabulous female writers who write about horror.

Kavita Kane believes that when people call her a woman author, it is because she writes about women. When it comes to gender, she thinks that men and women don’t write differently.

On gender and success

Talking about success in writing, Shobhaa De says that success makes your gender irrelevant. “If you are competent at what you do, your gender shouldn’t matter.”

She also shed light on how gender roles are reminded to both men and women in our society and women should take everything in their stride just as men do. “Both men and women multitask and that’s how we cope the best we can.”

Preeti Shenoy, on the other hand, opined that we live in a country where a girl child has to struggle to live right from the womb and so it is important to applaud a woman’s achievements because her victory can be an inspiration to so many women.

“We are still living in a country where women are fighting to be equal and that’s why we need to applaud women’s achievments” – Preeti Shenoy

Also: Kavita Kane on Weinsteins in Indian Mythology

On how their daughters perceive their writing

Shobha De says that her daughters are her censor board. “They are ruthless in their criticism but I love this. They destroy my self-esteem every single morning. They trash everything I write but that gives me perspective because then I fight much harder to impress them.”

Preeti Shenoy admits that her kids read everything she writes. They give her the pulse for her writing. “My daughter is my first editor. I take feedback from my family. My family is honest who tells what works and what doesn’t,” she says.

Kavita Kane says that she values her daughters’ judgement. In fact, they handle her marketing part.

Also: Writing About Everyday: Preeti Shenoy On Women In Her Writing

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