I have voices that feel comfortable to me. I have my technical voice, wherein I use phrases that one would associate with authority. I have my funny voice which, typically, is more about timing then it is about humor. And I have my serious voice which takes a seemingly boring statement and, through the use of punctuation, allows for beauty and truth to leap at the reader.

I also have voices that I prefer not to use.

I have been told that I have a fairly masculine storytelling voice. I find this to be surprising only in that I tend to lean less masculine on the scale of gender. Yet here I am, my sex obvious merely through the words that I choose. This used to bother me.

I am a feminist. I am proud of it. Why should I embrace such a dominating voice? Then, it hit me. My writing, like everyone’s writing, is partly shaped by my culture, and our libraries are stuffed to the gills with books written by and about men. They are everywhere.

It is only within the last hundred and fifty years that women have been allowed to write. And in the beginning, there were two routes. A woman could write about what she found to be important, which meant she spent her life a recluse (Dickinson), or she could spend her life writing about love and relationships and still end up only moderately successful (Austen).

We have a gazillion books written by men and a handful written by women. I love women writers, but I must admit that I have read far more male authors than I have female. I spent all of college in writing workshops, and I found the room to be at least evenly split in male to female ratios. If not, then the ratio was in the favor of women. Yet, I can pick up just about any collection of contemporary short stories and find that the ratios favor males.

Where do these women writers go?

Some build families and make the decision to stay home, but there have to be others. Is it lack of encouragement? Are the publishing houses discriminatory or are they simply run by men?

Despite what television executives would have us believe, literature is still a driving force within our culture. Women need representation not only for their sake but for the sake of men as well. We cannot continue the long-lived pattern of leaving out voices. The quiet stories always make for the most interesting reads. I crave a more feminine voice. I want it to weave itself into the narrative of our culture. Then, and only then, will we be able to understand it all. And maybe, I can find a voice that isn’t loud in volume but only in impact.

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