Do male writers have an advantage over female writers? In Ian McEwan’s latest book, Lessons (Anagram), the narrator assures that his protagonist “earned almost as much as her – his wife, who later leaves him and becomes a great writer –, had contributed half of her share to Lawrence’s care, nights included, was faithful, affectionate , he never thought of himself as a genius poet who was governed by special rules”, and a few pages later he assures that “he was proud of himself, of the clothes spinning in the washing machine at those same moments, of the clean floor in the hallway, of the happy child and well fed.” Taking care of the house and children and their weight in writing has been a recent controversy on the networks after an interview with Sílvia Soler in The National in which the writer said that “when a man is a writer, he locks himself in his office at home, everyone stops and he writes. And women, when we write, we put on a washing machine, we knock on the child’s door, we go shopping…, and I think that is still the case.”
Is it really like that? Because the internet was instantly filled with writers who claimed to install washing machines and writers who denounced the not all menu (not all men…). Soler has preferred not to enter into further controversy, like other writers consulted by this newspaper who have preferred not to speak.
And no matter how much male writers say publicly, the data indicates the opposite: women dedicate 78% to housework and men 32% (according to the EU Gender Equality Index). In general, writers agree in saying that they take care of daily tasks and are involved in taking care of their children, but they recognize, as Miquel Adam (author of I love him in L’Altra and editor of La Segona Perifèria), that “the mental load is very different and they still assume it, even if it bothers us.” Tuli Marquez (Les voltes del mónin AlRevés) assures: “Although I have raised a daughter writing and I wrote the last novel while changing my mother’s diapers, I know that there is still a lot to do.”
Bel Olid (his latest book is Kora, at the end of the getaway, in Fanbooks) points out that, precisely, “the data says that the fact that a man is at home, working or because he does not have a job, does not significantly increase the hours he dedicates to doing household chores. And although all the Catalan male writers did all the hours of homework, what is annoying about their insistence is that they ridicule statements that are true, that are supported by all the studies that have been done, and using themselves as an example instead to recognize that perhaps they are an exception.”
Women read much more than men, but they publish less and win far fewer awards.
“The inequalities – continues Olid – are structural and have been demonstrated. We must recognize them and see how we solve them and make a more just society. Do you want a gomet ? I have not seen writers saying that they use washing machines, because it is not a medal that they can wear,” says Olid, who points to the question of privilege: “If I say that someone who is rich has a better chance of publishing a book and getting Go ahead, that does not call into question the value of other books,” and “we must stop treating facts as if they were opinions, because personal experience is irrelevant, what is needed is to look at the system that is suffocating us.”
The book sector has its sights fixed on women, who read much more (65.1%, compared to 58.1% of male readers), but on the other hand, they continue to have more difficulties publishing: in Spain, 62% of the books are written by men, 37.8% by women, and 0.2%, according to the ISBN database, “unclassified.” These figures contrast with children’s and youth literature: 56% are authored by women, and only 43.8% are authored by men. It is not a minor literature, but it is related to the a priori status of women with children “and it also has less prestige,” concludes Olid, who does not refrain from submitting a report on gender in literary awards: according to a study by M Àngels Cabré and Helena Alvarado, between 2000 and 2014, only 17.8% of the awards in Catalan had been won by a woman, a percentage that rises to 36.4% for children and young people.
Leticia Asenjo assures that “shared custody is the great invention of feminism”
Leticia Asenjo (Divorce and adventure, La Segona Perifèria) explains that if she has been able to write it has been, in part, because of “shared custody, the great invention of feminism.” “I have no complaints about my ex, with whom we really already shared everything when we were together, but I still carry the mental agenda, and in some things I recognize that I have stopped fighting,” he says, and confesses that before his divorce I wouldn’t have been able to write.
Francesc Parcerisas (The tardor em sobtaQuaderns Crema) seems a little irritated that writers are accused of generalizing and defends that “it depends on each person’s circumstances, I separated and had to do everything, but I agree that in caring for children “There is still a way to go.”
The writing couple formed by Carlota Gurt (biography of focProa) and Melcior Comes (The day of the whale, Univers), with children from previous partners, they live together and share household chores, they have allowed themselves to be photographed in their house, he passing the broom and she writing, a setup as plausible as if it were the other way around. Gurt explains that in her life “there has been everything,” but her mental load has been carried more by her. “Men culturally tend to leverage ourselves, it is a fact that we have to fight against,” Comes defends himself.
For the writer Adrià Pujol, the fact goes beyond sharing household chores, and he recognizes that also at home his partner assumes more mental load, and “that it is not about saying that things are done, but about doing them” . “It is a debate between people from the paradigmatic first world, and I don’t know if it is representative, because there are writers who try to be a new model, like my character Jonàs – from Els llocs have slept Jonàs, Empúries–, although in the end everything turns out the other way around.” “Anyway, in the end within each couple there has to be an agreement, and it has to be signed every day,” he adds.
For Inés Macpherson, it depends on social status: “If you have your life figured out you can write, if not, no”
For Ricard Ruiz Garzón (Mångata, Edebé) is a gender issue, but it goes beyond that. On the one hand, there is the perception that “young people have changed a lot and girls have it easier now, but in the end, what is important to write about is above all the economic factor and social inequality. If you can pay someone to free you from certain jobs, it is done, and then gender inequality may be corrected, but in our world social inequality is getting worse.” Inés Macpherson thinks the same (Els fils del marSpècula): “There are men and women who do not need to do anything other than write, so if you have your life figured out you can write, if not, no.”
Màrius Serra (The most painted donutProa) is cautious, because he fears that “we have entered into a great topic and there is a permanent suspicion of the not all menu, but the literary world is not the same as, for example, that of football, and political correctness ends up being a obstacle to speaking naturally. Furthermore, if we enter into intimacy there are many factors,” and he points out that in addition to writing we often have to go to presentations or events, “and time and availability are important,” while remembering that his experience is complex. , due to the needs that his son Lluís had – as he already showed in Quiet –. The writer and enigmist also recognizes that “writing comes from crises and wounds, and there are times when it is difficult to reconcile with family life.”
Cristina Garcia Molina (The irredeemableLaBreu) sees good will, but it does not seem easy: “We have made progress in the intention of reaching consensus, but I don’t know if we will achieve it,” he concludes.