Women are still not heard
When it comes to rebalancing the scales of gender representation, things may be starting to change.
However, Booker Prize-winning author Anne Enright says Ireland is still 20 years behind other European countries when it comes to women’s voices being heard.
In a recent RTE One radio interview with Miriam O’Callaghan, Enright said women are still underrepresented in the Irish literary world, where, she says, the voice of the writer remains predominantly male.
“For a lot of my career, it’s been easier to be a woman writer elsewhere than it has to be a woman writer in Ireland, where I think the voice of the writer is, by default, male. That’s been very slow to change.
“I think it’s changed more in the last four or five years than it did in the first 20 years of my career,” the author said.
Men don’t hear the female voice
She also described female representation on Irish literary discussion panels as ‘tokenism’ and said that Irish men don’t seem to hear the female voice.
“In Ireland, it’s still a struggle to get women writers on a discussion panel. That doesn’t happen in America or the UK. Ireland is about 20 years behind when it comes to these things.
“For years, the only place where I met another woman writer [on a panel] was in Germany, because there, they just invited who they thought was good. In Ireland, they would only have one woman on a panel, so you had to be that woman.
Remove the ‘nagging mother’ tone
Anne Enright said she doesn’t believe male writers are in competition with female writers but that women writers may, at times, need to neutralise their voices in order to captivate listeners.
“I think that men are so busy putting each other up on pedestals and knocking one another off that they don’t have time to notice women, so it’s not a competition.
“But we might want to point out that nobody wants to listen to their mother!
“Overly feminised speech is inconsequential. It’s gossip. It’s nagging, and women have to be more conscious of that.”
Choose your words carefully
“But if you’re not heard, you start to lose confidence in your own voice. And if you’re not heard, you start to be less consequential in what you say.
“So, you have to retrench and be very careful and very simple about how you approach things,” she said.
What do you think?