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Women Writers in Alternative Media Using Male Pseudonyms/K.Anderberg

I am considering writing under a male pseudonym. I truly wonder, with almost all male editors and writers in alternative media, and in a sexist society, what effects me writing under a female name has. Am I getting less pay? Am I getting published less? Am I taken less seriously?
Women Writers in Alternative Media Using Male Pseudonyms
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

"Must a name mean something?" Alice asked doubtfully.
"Of course it must," Humpty Dumpty said, with a short laugh. "My name means the shape I am and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape." - Lewis Carroll

I have a knack for choosing male-dominated career paths by accident. I was a street performer at an early age, which is absolutely a male-dominated sport. Then I was a comedian, and again, performed in male-controlled venues with predominantly male acts. I was most often sandwiched between male acts many deep, both before and after me, wherever I performed, from hippie fairs in Eugene to gay comedy clubs in San Francisco. I went to law school where I learned what men did the last few hundred years. And now I have moved to political writing. And once again, approximately 95% of the editors I work with, are male. And almost all the articles that surround my articles are written by men, most often, as well. Look at wherever you are reading this article right now. Unless the editor was especially savvy (just kidding), there is a good probability that the two articles before this one, and the two after it also, are written by men, not women. Maybe this week will be the big exception, but that has pretty much been the rule the two years I have been writing.

I am considering writing under a male pseudonym. I truly wonder, in a world of almost all male editors, and almost all male writers, in a sexist society, what effects me writing under a female name has. Am I getting less pay? Am I getting published less? Am I taken less seriously? If nothing else, it would be a fabulous social experiment to see how I was treated differently, as a writer, by both editors, peer writers and the reading audience, if I wrote as a male. Certainly writing is one of the few careers where a woman can get away with imitating a male pretty easily. I do not even have to alter my appearance, all it takes is changing the name and adjusting the persona I write about. Writing under a male pseudonym will still not help air the women's voice, though. Yes, I may get more publicity and paid more as a male writer, thus a woman's writing is getting out, but it is through a filter. I could not write in first person about being a mom or a woman or about my sexuality, in those articles. That angle and voice would be lost. And that is an angle that other women hear and respond to. It is an angle that can inspire girls to become writers. It is an important angle. But I am one of a very few political women writers floundering around out here. It is pretty lonely, and sometimes I just want to quit writing altogether, as it is too hard. Not the writing part, but the rest of it: the marketing, publishing, syndicating, editing, and the stupid comments and public backlash from some of my articles. The aloneness in taking a stand, and defending that stand, is hard. And I think some of this hassle is because it is still groundbreaking to be a woman political columnist. And this would also explain why so few women are willing to do it.

When I asked a female street performer peer, Tash Wesp, aka Mildred Hodittle, what could ever make her quit street performing, she answered, "It can take your spirit when you're the only woman on the pitch." (A "pitch" is a busker term for a street performer spot). I asked Tash why there are so few solo women buskers. She answered, "You're making yourself very vulnerable to the public. The first time someone said, "Show me your tits," I was shocked, embarrassed, and didn't know what to say back. When women are heckled on stage and on the street, it is usually in a sexual put down, tearing down her body and making her an object. As women, I feel we are not taught to fight back or comment back, but taught to put our head down and run away. If you want to survive on the street busking, you have to learn to stick up for yourself differently as a woman. Most women don't want to go through the trials of learning how to do this, it's just such hard work." And I see much of what she has said there about street performing, applying directly to my experience as a woman busker, but also to my experiences as a woman political writer. I have serious thoughts about quitting writing for just the reasons that Tash said would make her quit street performing.

It *does* "take your spirit" when you are the only woman on a pitch, whether that pitch is a publication or a performing venue. And we do have to learn how to "stick up for (ourselves) differently as a woman," as Tash has said, in writing as well as in street performance. I am still learning that. My skin is slowly getting thicker to idiot comments that try to derail the issues in my articles, or try to reinterpret what I said to their own agenda. Often people respond intensely to me fighting or commenting back on reader's comments in those situations. But women need to learn how to speak up, and the public needs to learn how to handle that. Women need to be allowed to be angry and the public needs to learn how to handle that, too. I think often I am *more* shocking than my male counterparts when I defend something I wrote because people cannot believe I had the nerve, as a woman, to say *that* in the first place, then to not shut up when I am reprimanded in public for saying it. It is perceived as pure blasphemy by some.

I felt the same pressure as a woman street performer. Men could be screaming "Give me back my foreskin!" as art, two blocks away and no one noticed. But if I pleasantly sang a song about the media's effect on women's self esteem, I was criminally charged for singing "... girls don't fart, they only fluff," as well as "always be willing, never get mad, or they call us bitch, they tell us we're bad." Yes, I was actually criminally charged for singing the words "fart" and "bitch" in Santa Cruz, Ca. in 1986. When I fought the charges, I was seen by many of my male performer peers, as well as others, as even more egregious. As a "troublemaker." There is still a very strong societal belief in play, that women should be put in their place. It is one thing for a woman to have "lost her way," but once reprimanded for her naïve departure from the cult of womanhood, and once she does not comply, then she is no longer considered just negligent. She is now seen as doing this intentionally, and now is identified as a defiant enemy who is a danger to all women and girls, and society at large. She is seen as enough of an enemy sometimes to even trigger criminal charges, such as the eight tickets I accrued (which were later dismissed) for supposedly endangering the public in Santa Cruz with my feminist comedy. If I just dressed like a male, I could sing on the streets about my foreskin, or about balling all night, without incident. But a woman singing comedy about birth control was grounds for criminal alarm.

Due to these types of double standards and sexism, women writers have used male pseudonyms in the past. Sometimes women scientists published under male names to be taken seriously. The aftermath of this is that many great women scientists have been forgotten as written works are often what connects us to our past. Additionally, women have not gotten credit for scientific writings that have been influential when writing as males. Some women in science used pseudonyms due to the cult of womanhood and saving their family face, from having to explain a non-feminine thing like science, education, and writing going on with their mothers, wives, sisters... it would make the males and parents in the house look bad in many eras, if not still today. Sometimes women wrote as men for their physical safety due to these mores. (Female Saudi journalists today, in 2004, have said they feel they have to write articles under assumed male names for safety.) Due to women pretending to be men in science, the few women who did have the courage to be "out" as women scientists, such as Curie, were touted as strange exceptions to the all-male scientist rule, when they may not have been as strange as is assumed by the lack of women writers' names.

Another reason women use pseudonyms is for personal safety reasons. Living alone, as a woman, with men you have angered due to your political or op/ed writing out there, is a real threat to safety in ways. In an article by Joyce Carol Oates entitled, "Pseudonymous Selves," (www.usfca.edu/fac-staff/southerr/rosamond.html), Oates touches on the weird uneasiness of the reader seeing you, but you not seeing the reader, and of the voyeuristic nature of writing and publishing. "Choosing a pseudonym as the work's formal author simply takes the mysterious process a step or two further, erasing the author's social identity and supplanting it with the pseudonymous identity. For who among us, identified with such confidence by others, has not felt uneasy, if not an impostor, knowing that, whatever they know of us, we do not somehow share in that knowledge? Fame's carapace does not allow for easy breathing."

Sometimes women use different names because their names are difficult to pronounce or spell. Sometimes writing teams will merge their names to make a fictitious single author. Or even to be identified as fictitious characters, such as the Guerilla Girls. Guerilla Girls don gorilla masks and assume the names of dead women artists. This allows the women anonymity and also raises awareness about women artists of our past. The gorilla masks are a play on the revolutionary "guerilla," and even the use of the word "girl" is on purpose to mock the way women in art have been treated. In an article entitled "Guerilla Girls," by Sue Poremba ( http://iaia.essortment.com/guerillagirls_rfps.htm), she asks: "Are the Guerilla Girls really necessary? Take a little test. On one side of a piece of paper, list all of the female artists you've heard of. On the other side of the paper, list the male artists." I could ask you to do the same for political writers. Take some paper right now and list the male political writers you follow and enjoy. Now list the names of the female political writers you read. Do you see a difference there?

I have found myself using pseudonyms to cross publishing genres. I do not necessarily want the erotica articles I have written directly linked to my political writing career. I do not necessarily need my published personal memoirs in a small town paper in Mexico, linked directly to my most intense anarchist articles. I had the same thing in performance. My promo pack for a university differed from my promo packs going to women's festivals. This changing names for cross publication is a very standard reason that women use pseudonyms. Novelist Anne Rice writes erotica under the pseudonyms A.N. Roquelaure and Anne Rampling, for example. One could still argue that if sexuality and women's writings were more accepted, we would not feel so much need to isolate the different genres with different names. Women may want to use pseudonyms because they made mistakes in their first writing attempts, being too personal, stating opinions that were before their time and too controversial, etc. You can, in theory, just reinvent yourself with a new writing name. You have to rebuild your following, which is laborious, but at least you can get a second chance to utilize what you learned the first time out. And I hear some women just change their names for better shelf positioning in libraries and at book stores! Supposedly names beginning with E-M get the best shelf space.

Many women writers have used male pseudonyms. In Oates' article, she lists a number of British women writers who have used male pseudonyms, "among them Harriet Parr ("Holme Lee"), Mary Molesworth ("Ennis Graham"), Mary Dunne ("George Egerton"), Violet Page ("Vernon Lee"), Margaret Barber ("Michael Fairless"), Olive Schreiner ("Ralph Iron"), Gillian Freeman ("Eliot George")." She also includes others who used ambiguous titles such as "Storm Jameson, Radclyffe Hall, I. Compton-Burnett, V. Sackville-West, A. S. Byatt... Janet Flanner became "Genet"; Florence Margaret Smith became "Stevie Smith"; Lula Mae Smith became "Carson McCullers"; Janet Taylor Caldwell published as "Taylor Caldwell" (and as the yet more virile "Max Reiner")." She also says, "Ezra Pound, that most ambitious of poets and poet-theorists, published occasional music and art criticism under the names "William Atheling" and "Alfred Venison."" The most famous woman writer in 19th century France, Aurore Dupin, published under the pseudonym George Sand. M.W. Benson, a writer for many of the Nancy Drew mysteries, also wrote under male pseudonyms. The Bronte Sisters, Charlotte, Anne and Emily, also published under the male pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.

The article by Oates' notes many men who have used pseudonyms. One British writer used 29 pseudonyms! Oates says, "Multiple-name writers tend to publish their quality work under their own names but may have a descending order of quality among their pseudonyms... Isaac Asimov, a rival of Simenon's in terms of sheer writerly abundance, has also published under the name "Paul French." "Ellery Queen" and "Ellery Queen, Jr." ( joint pseudonyms of Daniel Nathan and Manfred Lepofsky) have published dozens of books, and Stephen King, our most prodigiously successful writer of horror stories, has recently sired a sort of sorcerer's apprentice in "Richard Bachman"—a pseudonym so little a secret that King's name is listed with "Bachman" in advertisements." Most people know that Samuel Langhorne Clemens used the pseudonym Mark Twain, and George Orwell was the pseudonym for Eric Arthur Blair. Supposedly Mr. Geisel, was rejected at least 30 times by publishers until he changed his name to Dr. Seuss. But it is far more common for a woman to switch to a male pseudonym than it is for a male to use a female pseudonym. And I think the reason is that we live in a patriarchy. And as you can see, men rarely use female pseudonyms. When men use pseudonyms, they usually use male pseudonyms. Both females and males predominantly use male pseudonyms, which means it seems like there are more male writers in existence than actually exist in reality.

Not using your real name when writing can cause suspicion. Lewis Carroll (which is a pseudonym) wrote in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, about a page without a signed author; "If you didn't sign it," said the King, "that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you'd have signed your name like an honest man." To use your real name is considered a check and balance of sorts to an article. People can follow up after you if you are saying untrue things, so it is supposed you are more truthful using your real name. But writers can still be held liable for statements made under a pseudonym. Women have tried to publish by just using initials and a last name, but often, in certain periods of history, people publishing under initials were often suspected as women and published less. A professor of mine said she enjoyed having her PhD., as it was the first time she could publish with a gender neutral heading; instead of Ms., Miss, or Mrs. Anderson, she could finally be Dr. Anderson, without a gender/sex inferment.

An odd entry on the site of Audrey Magazine, an "Asian Women's Magazine," ( http://www.audreymagazine.com/feb2004/Truth.asp) discusses things women fake. "Faking is an illustrious female survival tactic. From the use of male pseudonyms to get published, to the use of a miracle bra to mirage cleavage, women have often surrendered to the fake reality of their socially conditioned lives. We fake the color of our hair, the scope of our hips, the arch of our brow. We even put pieces of plastic in our breasts and on our nails, because it makes us feel prettier somehow... But even when choosing to fake, when are women just setting themselves up for further disappointment and denial? When does faking become a matter of "faking ourselves?"... A periodic fake (orgasm) may be harmless, but the problem is obvious: faking marginalizes one's sexual capacity and pleasure. In short, he gets off and all you're left with is a feeling of dissatisfaction and insecurity."

The comment on Audrey continued, "Faking creates deception in an intimate environment and sustains an illusion of climactic sex. Women need and deserve to be sexually stimulated without the obligation of having to satiate a male partner's ego. So the question is, why fake?... Women ultimately "fake themselves" because the fake orgasm becomes a normalized entity of our sex lives, and it robs our partners of the knowledge that sex is insufficient. So how do we get out of this mess?" I feel that way with regards to having to accept certain things as a woman writer. Faking fulfillment at being paid and published less than my male counterparts, faking the fulfillment of having few anarchist women writing peers, at having few editors who share my gender and life experiences.

But inevitably, this all really leads back to the question of why so few women write and are published in the political genre. Naomi Wolf addresses this issue quite succinctly in her article "Are Opinions Male?" ( http://www.holysmoke.org/sdhok/fem03.htm), which was published in 1993, but is as pertinent today as it was then, unfortunately. The article starts with, "The barriers that shut women up. What is that vast silent wavelength out on the opinion superhighway? It is the sound of women not talking... Despite women's recent strides into public life, the national forums of debate--op-ed pages, political magazines, public affairs talk shows, newspaper columns-- remain strikingly immune to the general agitation for female access. The agora of opinion is largely a men's club... " She says, "women are being left out of the opinion mix because of passive but institutionalized discrimination on the part of editors and producers. General-interest magazines, newspapers and electronic forums tend to view public affairs as if they can be clothed exclusively in gray flannel suits, and rely on an insular Rolodex of white men."

Wolf continues, "The lack of media oxygen for women writers of opinion can strangle voice, putting them into an impossible double bind. Many women also write from a personal vantage point alone because they feel it is one realm over which they can claim authority." She goes on to say that this also puts the few women who do speak up into a position of almost speaking on behalf of women, which is most often not the goal of the woman writer. Wolf speaks about this issue eloquently: "The meager allocation of space for female pundits at the highest levels, what Quindlen calls "a quota of one," does indeed force the few visible women writers of opinion who take a feminist stance into becoming stoic producers of that viewpoint, counted upon to generate a splash of sass and color, a provocative readerly-writerly tussle, in the gray expanses of male perspectives and prose. Editors seem to treat these few female pundits as cans in six-packs marked, for instance, "Lyrical African American Women Novelists"; "Spunky White Female Columnists with Kids"; or, perhaps, the reliable category, "Feminists (Knee-Jerk to Loony)."

"Women are accused of writing too much about their "feelings" and their "bodies"--as if such subjects were by nature ill-suited to respectable public discussion... Of course, many women write about issues unmarked by gender, from city council elections to computer chips. But when women talk about politics, culture, science and the law in relation to female experience--i.e., rape statutes, fertility drugs, misogyny in film or abortion rights--they are perceived as talking about their feelings and bodies. Whereas when men talk about their feelings and bodies--i.e., free speech in relation to their interest in pornography, gun ownership in relation to their fear of criminal assault, the drive for prostate cancer research in relation to their fears of impotence, new sexual harassment guidelines in relation to their irritation at having their desire intercepted in the workplace--they are read as if they are talking about politics, culture, science and the law."

Wolf then asks if women leave themselves out of the writing forum of our own volition, in some sort of self-imposed exile. She says that editors defend their lack of women writers by saying women do not submit articles at the rate men do. I used to hear this as a performer all the time too, that the reason I was on stage with all male acts was because so few women acts applied. Wolf says the editors of major national press venues said that the numbers of articles submitted by men far outweighed the numbers of articles submitted by women many times over. A New York Times Op-ed page staff member said on one random day, for example, he received 150 unsolicited manuscripts, and the ratio of male to female manuscripts was 10 to 1. Wolf says some argue the reason for this lack in submissions is that the biggest groups of political writers are coming from think tanks, lawyers, universities and government officials and that women supposedly have not integrated those echelons in high enough numbers to be rivaling their hold on the press. Yet I have noticed, even as numbers of women grow in the fields of law and government, the numbers of women submitting opinion and political journalism, as compared with men, is still very low. Wolf asks whether this is a conscious or unconscious editorial bias against women's opinions and answers with a resounding, "yes."

Wolf asks, "does female socialization conspire against many women's ability or desire to generate a strong public voice?" She then answers, "There is, I think, a set of deeply conditioned, internal inhibitions that work in concert with the manifest external discrimination to keep fewer women willing to submit opinion pieces, and to slug it out in public arenas. The problem is not, of course, that women can't write." This is a very good point. Women and girls supposedly excel at writing in school, and supposedly women are creatures of communication, by many a stereotype. So, it is not that women cannot talk and write. It is, instead, that women are afraid of the fallout of the debate. As Wolf writes, "Unfortunately, you can't write strong, assertive prose if you are too anxious about preserving consensus; you can't have a vigorous debate if you are paralyzed with concern about wounding the sensitivities of your opposite number." Wolf also notes that "The globalizing tone that the conventions of opinion journalism or t.v. debate require, involves an assumption of authority that women are actively dissuaded from claiming." I noticed that there were very few *solo* women acts wherever I performed. Women and girls I spoke to all expressed an extra fear at performing solo, to performing with others. They avoided performing solo. I think this fear of authority is involved in that too.

Wolf acknowledges that women are taught to be social housekeepers, thus have mixed feelings about stirring up trouble with our opinions. Yet Wolf rightly says, "to write most purely out of herself, a writer must somehow kill off the inhibiting influence of the need for "connection." The woman writer of opinion must delve into what early feminists called "the solitude of self."" Wolf notes that another Woolf, Virginia Woolf "returned often in her diaries to this theme, to the need to be impervious both to criticism and approval: "I look upon disregard or abuse as part of my bargain." Woolf continues, "I'm to write what I like and they're to say what they like."" Without that thick skin, many women have turned to writing fiction to avoid the controversies of voicing their real concerns in a news forum. Jane Eyre is such a novel, as was the essay, "The Yellow Wallpaper."

I share this internal conflict of wanting to voice my opinion without constraint, and wanting societal and community acceptance and approval. I share this dilemma with other women writers, such as both Naomi Wolf, who admits she feels the tug of this also, and with Virginia Woolf as well. I also fear the punishments that come with taking a stand and speaking out. As Wolf rightly assesses, this is no "phantom anxiety," it is very real. Wolf says, "A woman who enters public debate is indeed likely to be punished... I feel a kind of terror when I am critical in public and experience a kind of nausea when I am attacked. The knowledge that another person and I publicly disagree makes me feel that I have left something unresolved, raw in the world; even if I "win"--especially if I win--I also lose, because I am guilty, in traditionally feminine terms, of a failure to create harmony and consensus; this bruise to identity manifests at the level of my sense of femininity."

Virginia Woolf wrote, "The effect of discouragement upon the mind of the artist should be measured." Naomi Wolf writes, "These psychological and social barriers to women's opinionated public speech make it literally not worth it, in many women's minds, to run for office, contradict an adversary or take a controversial public stance. If many women feel ridicule and hostility more acutely than men do, if they are uncomfortable with isolation, then ridicule, hostility and the threat of isolation can be--and are--standard weapons in the arsenal used to scare women away from public life." I very much share these internal conflicts Naomi writes about as I teeter on the brinks of stopping writing for many of these reasons. I do not get enough out of it for a lot of the risks and assaults I endure for it. Wolf writes of "a prominent feminist muckraker" who keeps on her refrigerator the motto, "Tell the truth and run."

So what does Wolf suggest be done about this problem with editors and writers and the lack of women participants? She challenges editors to "root out their own often unwitting bias." She encourages editors to make a commitment to inform the public on a real range of views, instead of "leaving half the population ill-prepared to pursue their interests within the democratic process." She accuses these editors of shortchanging our nation by omitting a women's perspective and hard facts about women in the first person. Like me, Wolf is not a proponent of more gender polarization such as women-produced, women-owned press. That is not going to work as the real integral solution. The real solution is actual integration.

Wolf also stresses that women need to work through their ambivalence and step into the fire of debate. She offers the following advice to women like me, "We must realize that public debate may starve the receptors for love and approval, but that it stimulates the synapses of self-respect. Let us shed the lingering sense that authority is something that others--male others--bestow upon us; whenever we are inclined to mumble invective into our coffee, let us flood the airwaves instead. Let's steal a right that has heretofore been defined as masculine: the right to be in love with the sound of one's own voice." Which brings me back to Joyce Carol Oates' article. She says, "For all its strategies, art is an offensive maneuver from this perspective; it moves into another's private space, demands his attention if not his respect and admiration. To bring it off is so daring, so arrogant, so fraught with peril, the most ingenious defenses are required."

homepage: homepage: http://www.kirstenanderberg.com

too bad 18.Sep.2004 22:04


bummer as gender name self perpetuates stereo type.

As media consolidation furthers the voice of one will have no meaning.

In the mean while may the force be wih you.

The Work Is Hard Regardless of Your Sex 19.Sep.2004 15:17


Pseudonymns are nothing new. Many turn of the century political and natural history writers used pseudonymns. People writing about controversial or illegal activities have traditionally used one word names to identify themselves.

Today we have Atrios and the like (although since he has been on radio, everyone knows he is male, something I think was an error). I seem to recall from past comments that the poster, Claymydia, is probably not female.

Particularly if you are blogging or distributing your writing on the web, consider choosing a one word pseudonymn that is ambiguous. Then write from many points of view and keep people guessing.

Anyone who puts themselves out there by making strong political statements need to expect that there will be readers out there who don't like what they have to say and may react in varying degrees of intensity and bad taste. It comes with the territory. Be a writer, not a woman or a man, and accept that it will not always be easy.

There are excellent female political writers out there -- Molly Ivens, Adrianna Huffington, Joan Didion, Arandati Roy, etc., etc. Ask them how hard it is and yet no one sees them fleeing to the safety of a pseudonym to try and make more money.

A strong woman writing under a man's name is a cop-out.

"why are you yelling at me?" 19.Sep.2004 19:16

brain and heart

This is what my new helper at work, a Bush-lovin',Christian, A-rab hatin' cowboy accused me of when I told him, not asked him, firmly that he had to follow the basic policies of the job. He's also complained to people behind my back because he heard me cussing even though he uses the f word in every conversation. I know that I will come out just fine in the end but still, even though I've been kicking ass and taking names for nearly three decades in a non-trad job that as Wolf says in Kristin's article: "the knowledge that another person and I ... disagree makes me feel that I have left something unresolved, raw in the world; even if I 'win'--especially if I win--I also lose, because I am guilty, in traditionally feminine terms, of a failure to create harmony and consensus...". Fuck gender stereotypes (I am yelling now, Steve), they're poisonous and harm the wonderful creative human spirit.

we love you kirsten 20.Sep.2004 00:03

but you and we are not perfect

thus, dialogue...

"I implicitly and continuously look backward from the present to explore how the concept of reproduction became deeply embedded within modernity's nodal systems of classification and social domination."
"" 4

"The interconnected ideologies of racism, nationalism, and imperialism rest on the notion that race can be reproduced, and on attendant beliefs in the reproducibility of racial formations (including nations) and of social systems hierarchically organized according to notions of inherent racial superiority, inferiority, and degeneration."

"... the reading of Desiree's baby offered here is self-reflexive and double-edged: it exposes genealogy as a raced and reproductive object, and it transforms genealogy into a critical theoretical tool that can be used to contest the same biological 'truths' that conventional notions of genealogy claim to trace, identify, and sanction."

oh...also... 20.Sep.2004 00:24


"Lived humanity" "as Africans" "constituted" by "actuality" "of context" of "differing histories" ... Cabral an 'example of freedom'

"My only concern is to give a concrete and practical depiction of reclaiming history as a specific instance of 'the practice of freedom'."

"This rooting in history is expressed in the decentralization of political power and the diversification of economic production, on all levels, aimed at empowering the common folk."

"It is this lived experience of 're-africanisation' which Cabral systematically develops into the conception of revolution—in the African context—as a 'return to the source.'

problematic 20.Sep.2004 00:28


"But what are the people of Africa trying to free themselves from and what are they trying to establish?."

"By the term 'problematic' I mean a group of texts centered around an internally interconnected cluster of concerns engaged in exploring a theme which conversely defines and governs the questions and answers that are possible from within the confines of said 'problematic'... to be sure, the use and appropriation of this term does not in any way implicate me Althusser's reading of Marx from which it is derived."

"problematic... the constitutive unity of the effective thoughts that make up the domain of the existing ideological field with which a particular author must settle accounts in his own thought... Constitutes the basic unity of a text, the internal essence of ideological thought... "

Article? 20.Sep.2004 22:55

working writer

"...as Wolf says in Kristin's article:"

That's not an article. It's a book report on other people's work with a pointless biographical intro.

ah, the usual unintelligible flailing noise 21.Sep.2004 04:20


that generally follows upon the sudden interruption of whatever passes for serious discussion nowadays by a few cogent statements regarding the oppression of women.

and here are my two cents on the subject: Joanna Russ
 link to www.amazon.com

unintelligibles, your book reports will be due by class on Friday. otherwise, just pipe down and pretend to have done the reading and pray you are not called upon to comment.

as for pseudonyms, well, that's something to think about. it seems like a decision to make on extremely tactical grounds. i see no controlling impulses or principles that make any sense in the end. perhaps, by and large, those who are going to read for real will read it no matter who they think might have wrote it, anyhow. so the question is how one would like to establish one's authorial relationship with those who generally do not read writing, but rather, rewrite writing in the process of seeing it, or just plain ignore it, based on prejudices and presumptions. such readers get queasy very easy from slight changes to their mental diet, so their selective attention is perhaps mental self-care. but they are an important part of any audience nonetheless. because they love to talk. so maybe one question would be, does one first disarm a reader's prejudices, or provoke them, if one's purpose is in part ultimately to dispel them or at least hang them up in public as a conversation piece?

Men snorting and grunting again...quit hiding, you cowards.... 21.Sep.2004 20:14

Kirsten anderberg kirstena@resist.ca

Well, once again...the comments prove the article's point.
I bet not a one comment posted here is by a woman. Rather this crap is coming from cowardice males too afraid to even use their real names who were THREATENED TO THE BONE by what I said here!

"IMPEACH BUSH NOW!" says "that generally follows upon the sudden interruption of whatever passes for serious discussion nowadays by a few cogent statements regarding the oppression of women." LOL! SEXIST MEN AGAINST WOMEN FOR BUSH!!! Give me a damned break!

This shit where people hide behind fake names and then tear female writers to shreds with bullshit incoherent rants is old. It is what the article is about.

Another ANON comment from "working writer" says "That's not an article. It's a book report on other people's work with a pointless biographical intro." What cha hiding? Spit your REAL name out "working writer." So we can see, ARE YOU MALE? Of course you are! And WE WANT TO READ YOUR ILLUSTRIOUS BODY OF WORK.

The post saying "we love you kirsten but..." is incoherent to me as are the two following it. I do not know what on earth those comments mean or are about.

But ONCE AGAIN, a WOMAN writes about WOMEN'S ISSUES and MEN flood the comment area with crap. Nothing new. I wrote about women and welfare and asked women write in but they had no chance to as angry vocal men flooded the comments area with how slutty and lazy welfare women are and before you knew it, it was just a bunch of loud men snorting and scratching the ground making a lot of dust. This shit makes me sick.

I am not really enthused re writing for indy media anymore. It really is a situation that is out of control with all these anonymous men attacking women writers with incoherent bullshit being attached to all my articles. I rarely see anything other than what a bitch I am or how fucked up women are attached to any of my articles. Why would I want to keep writing in that environment? I don't want to keep writing in that environment. DId ANY of these comments actually address the issue at hand with any eyeopening info? No.

I am sick of cowardly men attacking me here.
Stand up, USE YOUR FUCKING REAL NAMES when you criticize me here.
If you are so fucking righteous, let me see YOUR work, and use your REAL damned names, you cowards. Really now! I am disgusted at your cowardice.

I am not interested in continuing to write in this environment. It is surmounting to abuse of women honestly. I do not want women to be discouraged reading these stupid attacks on women writers, I am sick of it myself. Indy Media needs to SERIOUSLY look at how they treat women writers as this writer is ready to bail. Indy Media resembles a sweat shop environment for women in many ways (oooh yeah, run with that line instead of the entirety of what I am saying, anon cowards)...I am outta here. I see very little benefit in me posting my articles for free here or on any IMC only to have men run to my every article to snort and scratch their dicks at me.

I am absolutely SICK of this shit.
I have had it with snorting males on IMCs. You make me sick.

And Indy Media needs to SERIOUSLY LOOK AT HOW WOMEN WRITERS ARE TREATED ON THE PORTLAND IMC...I am not interested in this bullshit. It makes writing for Portland IMC not worth it to me at all. Let those men snort at some other woman writer. I am tired of being snorted at by anonymous grotesque incoherent cowards. It simply repulses me. Let men control IMC's through anonymous misogynist comment rampages. I do not need it. I do not think the IMCs need it either...

Indy media, the MAN'S media....

My Response 21.Sep.2004 21:42



There's obviously more going on here than I can see in one post. Your rage seems over the top, although of course it is your rage and I'm certainly not going to suggest that there's not a good reason for it.

Some of the posts in response to your initial post don't make any sense to me at all; they don't even seem to address what you had to say.

However, it is really unfair of you to assume that everyone who responded to you is a "snorting, grotesque, incoherent coward" and a man.

I offered my opinion in what I considered was a thoughtful way, with all respect. I am a woman, a writer, and have been published. When I am paid for my work in magazines and books, and sometimes online, I use my real name. I would not do so on Indymedia because there is no reason to leave myself open to what you have identified as occasional harrassment outside of Indymedia.

Because almost everyone on Indymedia uses a pseudonym, it is pretty much impossible to identify who is a man or woman, black or white, gay or straight, etc. etc. I am inclined to like that because it allows me to focus on the message and the topic rather than on the messenger.

There will always be trolls, idiots, and morons on a board; you have to look past them and claim the higher ground. Descending to their level or launching personal attacks does not advance your cause.

If your post asks whether or not you should write under a male pseudonym, and someone replies with an opinion I think it isn't really fair for you to personally attack someone who is only trying to participate in a dialogue that you initiated. Nor is it fair to make assumptions about people you do not know.

If it is too painful for you to post or to write about thought-provoking or volatile topics because you just can't deal with some of the responses, perhaps you should look into a different line of work.

Gevalt... 21.Sep.2004 23:28

alsis38 alsis35@yahoo.com

Hey, Kirsten:

Don't really know what to say about the possibility of using a male pseudonym. I'm a woman whose drifted in and out of various male-dominated hobbies/pursuits for years, so I understand the temptation at least a little. And I'm sorry you've been getting so much shit from the men on this board. :(

FWIW, I have forwarded links and excerpts from two of your articles (so far) to the few feminist boards I post on. Haven't seen a lot of comments, but it looks like women are reading them. Your columns give me a lot to chew on and think about, which is why you'd rarely see me actually write a critique. That may be the case with the other feminists that I've run them by as well.

I wish you luck, whatever you decide.

You have expressed my mind 21.Sep.2004 23:31

Cathy Loftus cmlvideo@yahoo.com

Yes, my real name. The piece really speaks to my own experience in a male dominated field - mine is TV production. What the previous posters fail to recognize is that it is imposible for a member of an opressor class to understand the frustration and rage of someone who is oppressed.

Why is Kirsten full of rage? Maybe for the same reason I am in reading these diatribes. It is disheartening that folks fail to get the point after a clear, articulate piece on women political writers from a real live policital writer who is a woman.

never would have read these comments 22.Sep.2004 03:13

if Anderberg hadn't pointed them out

This is not the first venue that Ms. Anderberg has decided wasn't good enough for her. In general, she seems to have trouble getting along with people. It seems doubtful a pseudonym will change anything much. Trolls and wing-nuts will still post nonsense, and Ms. A will still have an anger problem.

4 k.a. 22.Sep.2004 11:33

sasha bergman

A few days ago I was gonna post a comment on this and encourage you to tough it out and keep using a womyn's name (who knows--it may help indymedia overcome it's gender inbalance by showing there is a place here for women--although it may be that that place is as a target of unfair harrassment, in which case, well...). Then I decided it was none of my business aznd cancelled the post. I was also gonna say I think people do treat authors they percieve to be womyn differently than they treat those they believe to be men... same shit, different website. Either way, it's obviously your decision, I think it's high time indymedias had a focussed attack on sexism. If you do decide to leave the indymedia sphere (and that may be best for you and ideas you value), I wish you all the best and trust you'll continue fighting the man. note the previous post... what indymedia regular doesn't have "an anger problem?" of course for guys it's never reduced to gender. respect from idaho.

lists of musicians male and female 22.Sep.2004 17:20



Kate Bush
Patsy Cline
Billy Holliday
Janis Joplin
Bonnie Rait
Ani Difranco
Nina Hagen
Lene Lovich
Loretta Lynn
Laura Love
Poly Styrene (x-ray specs)
Sheryl Crow (don't laugh)
Half Seas Over
the Del Toros
Cat Power
Delores O'Riorden (the Cranberries)
Shinead O'Connor
the Sundays
Dead Can Dance
Switchblade Symphony
the Genitorturers
Bette Midler
the Exciters*
Nina Simone
Aretha Franklin
Joni Mitchell
K D Lang
Laurie Anderson
Tracy Chapman
Lisa Stansfield
Britney Spears
Marylin Monroe
Ella Fitzgerald
Melt Banana (lead singer)
Pink Martini
the Pixies (I think that's a girl, not sure)
Lil Kim
Queen Latifa
Siouxie and the Banshees
A Host of Madonna-formula pop singers trying to be like Britney Spears
That woman who says "Hey, wanna party?" "Am I sexy oui o non? Follow me and you will know.", "Darling come here, fuck me up the--", and "I wanna sit on your face" on those Lords of Acid songs (lol)
there's more that I can't remember I'm sure.


Billy Corgan (smashing pumpkins)
Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam)
Stone Temple Pilots
Led Zeppelin
Dead Kennedys
Ozzy Ozbourne
Nat King Cole
Type O Negative
Duke Ellington
Thelonious Monk
Miles Davis
Marylin Manson
Dan Bern
Guns & Roses
Jeff Ott (Fifteen)
David Byrne
Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five)
Louis Prima
Louis Armstrong
Ray Charles
Stevie Wonder
Atom and His Package
Dead Milkmen
Dave Mustane (Metallica, later Megadeth)
Anal Cunt
the Clash
the Offspring
Modest Mouse
David Bowe
los Fabulosos Cadillacs
Manu Chau
Marvin Pontiac (actually John Lurie)
Chemical Brothers
Howard Shore (music from LOTR)
Don Davis (music from the Matrix)
Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr Bungle)
Robert Smith (the Cure)
Tom Waits
Robert Palmer (Power Station)
Nick Cave
Nick Drake
Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
Lane Staley (Alice in Chains)
Kurt Cobain (Nirvana...duh!)
Phil Collins
Les Claypool (Primus)
the Pogues
Public Enemy
Fresh Prince
Heavy D
Vanilla Ice
New Kids on the Block
Richard Thompson
Skankin Pickle
Zach De La Rocha (Rage Against the Machine)
Against Me
the Melvins
fine ok you're right.

whatever 22.Sep.2004 17:37

never is a long time

> what indymedia regular doesn't have "an anger problem?"
> of course for guys it's never reduced to gender.

News to me. "Testosterone poisoning" is a common term for Type-A macho freaking out. "Typical asshole guy behavior." Maybe you've never heard this. Maybe you haven't noticed words like "asshole" and "jerk" are themselves gendered. Women get called other things. Who could even argue with the proposition that men generally, statistically, have more numerous and worse problems with anger, violence, and aggression. Everybody knows this. Prisons are filled with WHOM?

Anyway, yes, there's no shortage of guys who can never work with one group for long either.

Fallacious argument 23.Sep.2004 11:48


"...men generally, statistically, have more numerous and worse problems with anger, violence, and aggression..."
I'd like to see that statistic. I don't think you have, even though I tend to agree with the assumption.
"Prisons are filled with WHOM?"
Prisons are filled with mostly non-violent drug offenders.

A likely experiment. 01.Jan.2005 04:20

Tristan Noel renard_noelle@hotmail.com

The point you make about a pseudonym is a good one. However, editors, other writers, publishers, and readers, ALL, never fail to find who the pseudonym is in fact associated with within a short period of time.

As for the psychological aspects of this article, yes, there's quite a bit of unnecessary segregation against female authors, writers, artists, et cetera. it's tragic, yes, there are in fact twinks in the world. The problem is that these twinks have infected up to the higher ranks of the world's editorial staff, and into the minds of the children of today's generation to a major degree. It is only in the rare cities like Austin that a child can learn for his or herself exactly what life really is. And even here, there are several common cases of control of knowledge. Children learn from their parents and their peers, mostly. If their parents are telling them that, and I'll take an actual example that I came across, "black people are the devil's child", they will either A: grow up thinking only this, or B: eventually learn that their parent figures are in fact bigots and morons. Unfortunately, with today's average football jock mentality, B is not likely to happen. It saddens me, really, to see such ignorance being promoted to such an extreme degree.

So in a loose term, I agree. Segregation happens. A lot. I'm commonly segregated against purely because of my attire, aspect, lack of defined focus, or just about anything they can find a hair out of place for. You might be surprised how many contracts I've been shorted out on, because "we wanted someone older", "We wanted someone who would represent us better(translation: You look like shit. get lost.)", or even "We're sorry, but you've too much varied experience"

And to clarify, I'm a writer, colourist, videographer, clothing designer, inventor, and a mess of other semi-professions. I do certainly feel your plight, in that the media engine is driven by profiteering bigots. Luckily there are at least some forces working to better the situation. Until we can assure corrected education to every child though, there's little we can do. Though personally, I believe that several of these poor parents should simply be eliminated as it stands, on grounds of inciting bigotry and possible emotional, psychological, and mental damage on a grand scale at a later date. Or maybe for just poorly brainwashing a child. And yes, thats most of it. If you go to someone who is very much in the stage of information retainment, and you feed them information, you are brainwashing them. Whether benign, or malevole, it's all the same one way or another. A bit too much of the latter these days though. Here's where I'm 100% sure someone's going to get offended. The biggest example of brainwashing on a malevolent scale?


And the people of the cloth who read this, think hard. I mean HARD, to yourself. Had your parents not made you get up in the morning every day and pray, or go every sunday to a big building full of people mourning the passing of some 2000 year dead figurehead, would you follow it? If they had never even raised it to you, would you really take to it? And if you tell me yes, you had better have a damn good explanation for it.

This is Tristan, a multimedia artist who isnt afraid to hide.