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A Startling Reminder of Gender Bias

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There's a place for truth in writing. And there's a place for writing in blogging. Sometimes truth happens, even in blogs. Sometimes, when it does, it's startling.

Honestly, I never cared that any writer was man or woman. What mattered to me was that Men With Pens is an excellent blog about blogging and writing, one of the top blogs in the world on that subject. But I did assume that James Chartrand, blog author, was a man, because of the name -- his name, and the blog's name. This isn't something I think about. I like gender differences, and I believe in gender differences too, but not in jobs or opportunity and particularly not in writing. My favorite bloggers are about half and half men and women.

So I was shocked to read Why James Chartrand Wears Women's Underpants as a post in CopyBlogger yesterday. It turns out that James Chartrand, author of Men with Pens, is a woman, not a man. Why do I care? I don't. I'll read it just as eagerly now as before now. I just want the posts to be useful, interesting, amusing, and good. But the story she (James Chartrand) tells is shocking. Apparently the world of George Eliot and George Sand, women novelists with men's pen names, is still around. She writes:

Taking a man's name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service.

No hassles. Higher acceptance. And gratifying respect for my talents and round-the-clock work ethic.

Business opportunities fell into my lap. People asked for my advice, and they thanked me for it, too.

Did I quit promoting my own name? Hell yeah.

I like to think the world has come a long way since I was born in 1948. That the chauvinism we took for granted without even thinking about it in the 1950s and 1960s has given way to a better, more equal world. Maybe so; but "more equal" isn't the same as "equal." Damn. Everybody should read Why James Chartrand Wears Women's Underpants.

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