The author of the essay “Whatever Happened to ________?” published anonymously, because she had to. Stalked by an ex-husband who freaked out due to her greater success as a writer, she has a dramatic, violent, concrete example of the patriarchy’s efforts to diminish women writers.
I read this essay all at once, riveted, wishing it was just a rare example of one insane man but knowing it was merely a crystal clear illustration of what happens to so many women. The essay takes on several sub-issues, including luck, hard work, privilege, and how those things interact with each other in a writer’s career. It made me wonder about my jealousy of my first husband’s success (we’re still friends, luckily) and whether he ever felt jealous of my (much smaller) successes. It made me remember that I haven’t been struggling just against my own depression and lack of networking skills all this time, but also against the patriarchy (much more subtly than the essay writer, but it affects all women). It made me angry, and it made me relieved (“maybe it’s not all my own fault”), and it made me determined to keep writing regardless.
Please read it. Read it, because it’s important. Because we need to know how oppression works, in its various forms. Because writing truly is an act of resistance.