Steel revealed in an impassioned post on her personal blog on August 5th that she is sick of the "phenomenon" of men (and only men) asking her the question, "'So, are you still writing?'" The men who ask this, Steel observed, are "very uncomfortable about my success at what I do, and VERY annoyed by it." She explained exactly why such comments are demeaning, writing:
What this does is that it immediately puts my writing into the category as a hobby. As in, are you still taking piano lessons, doing macrame, have a parrot? I don’t have a huge ego about my work, but let’s face it, for me it is a job. A job I love, and I have been doing it since I was 19 years old. I have been in the Guinness book of world records repeatedly for having a book on the bestseller list for more weeks consecutively than whoever. Yes, for Heaven’s sake, I am still writing.
Steel sees these comments as a way for threatened men to try and take her down a peg and points out how ridiculous they would be in another context:
I never say to guys, “So are you still a lawyer?…A doctor?…A brain surgeon?” They would think I’m nuts if I did. But men who are annoyed by women’s success in business have to find a way to put them down. And what better way to insult someone than minimize what they do, imply that it’s really insignificant, and inquire if they’re still doing it?
Clearly Steel's thoughts have struck a serious chord with readers. According to the U.S. News & World Report, the traffic directed towards this single blog post crashed Steel's website a few days after it went live.
Steel's story (and the overwhelming response to it) just go to show: women are rarely alone in facing such discrimination -- and it's always positive to start talking about it. Silence does not affect change, but perhaps dialogue can.
[H/T The Toast]