Do Women Writers Have To Shout Louder To Be Heard?

Women writers shout louder

Women writers have been battling for rightful representation and acceptance for a very long time now. The #WomenWritersFest brought together a strong panel which reflected on how we need to collectively work in making women writers more visible for them to get the due they deserve.

Writer and poet Amruta Dongray moderated the session which saw some insightful voices. The speakers comprised authors Nandita Bose and Kavitha Rao, author and academician Taringini Sriraman, and author and Ideas Editor at SheThePeople.TV, Kiran Manral.



Place of women writers in society

Since ages, women’s place in society has been defined by patriarchal standards set by men. The entire structure is influenced such a way that it reflects in every aspect of a woman’s life, regardless of what profession she follows.

Coming to writing, nothing really has changed over the years. Taringini shared a piece of research enlightening the audience how societies are organised around certain principles. “The problem is that theories of equality, freedom and consent are morphed by political reasons. Policy makers and ministries are shaped by men which eventually leads to the continuance of patriarchy,” she added.

Kavita believed that fiction reading is slowly dying as readers are now resorting to non-fiction, self-helps, biographies or history. “In my experience, middle-spaced writing is extremely difficult because it’s difficult to sell. Either there’s something very commercial or something very literary that seems to gain attention. There’s hardly any acceptance for the in-between storytelling,” she shared.

The panel discussed a plethora of challenges women writers face. Nandita crucially pointed the fact that books are now largely referred to as mere commodities or goods. “Our culture is scripted out of stories and books are what builds our society. But if you see now, a book is merely a decoration piece in households,” she elaborated.

Need to read more women writers  

The session highlighted an important note where the panelists shared their own experiences during the process of writing and post it. The authors strongly suggested that there are a million good authors people never talk about and that it becomes our personal responsibility to at least read some of them.

Nandita also pointed out the fact that women authors and their work is entertained as long as they are practising within what is acceptable by patriarchy or things which interest men.

Women need to be represented strongly and there is a need for noble voices who can help make this happen. Women, from all strata and cultures of society, need to be heard and represented equally in panels. This is how we will achieve freedom from patriarchal structures.

What needs to be created to place women writers on an equal footing with men?

Kiran Manral pointed out the marginal representation of women writers has been a common phenomena since ages. “Where are the platforms? We need platforms as strong as this Women Writers Fest to be able to give visibility to women who are never heard. This is one way of doing it. The other way is to get more women writing in terms of more quality writing,” she elaborated.

For Kiran, the most challenging aspect has been to not fit in any genre. “Why is it that we women are only believed to be good at writing romance; why can’t we write horror or politics for that matter?” she asked.

Surely there is an implicit bias where the audience is not receptive to certain topics women write because they believe women can’t write those. “If you see in terms of awards too, the percentage of women authors nominated is minute. So, there are so many battles we, as women authors, are fighting in our own way,” Kiran added.

Need more spotlight on writing across genres

Kavitha explained the need for having more access to libraries and grants that can empower budding women writers. “In terms of majority, books and stories have always been based on men. We need books by women for women — we need access to be able to put our work out there,” she demanded.

The panel came to a conclusion that, apart from representation and visibility, women writers need to overcome a great deal of inhibitions of writing in the first place. Also, it then also becomes the audience’s responsibility to receive the topic in the manner the writer intended it to. For a women writer, however, it is the strong quality-driven writing that has to be the loudest shout she can make to be heard.

Also Read: Writers Fest: ‘Every Short Story Captures A Moment Of Truth’

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