Catherine Nichols has found that submitting her manuscript under a male pseudonym brought her more than eight times the number of responses she had received under her own name.
“It’s assumed that women writers will not write anything important – anything truly serious or necessary, revelatory or wise.”
“Our work [is] pruned back until it’s compact enough to fit inside a pink cover.”
Catherine Nichols in an essay published in Harpers, 2015
There are two glass ceilings for female writers and artists, arranged one on top of the other, a crystal palace of prejudice and illusion. There’s the transparent political and economic one, the barrier to equality of status and pay.
The other, under that, or above, I can’t see that far, I don’t understand technical details ’cause I’m a girl, and the light refracts so prettily, I wonder if I should buy that pink hat, is a rose-pink coloured barrier to having your work taken seriously.
This one, the pink one, was smashed in the 19th century by the Brontë sisters and Marian Evans, but they knew they could only break through if their ideas were camouflaged under male names.
They were not worried about commercial failure, or shocking people; they were worried about not being taken seriously.
Fra Angelico Annunciation 1433-34 Tempera on wood, Museo Diocesano, Cortona.
Once upon a time, the most powerful of angelic messengers wore pink when they brought good news.
Rose-pink is the liturgical colour of rejoicing.
Pink should not need an apology. There are many shades of pink. I’m not going to give it up; it is a misunderstood colour reclaimed by women writers every day. The best things in life are ambivalent.
Irony is pink.
Yes, dear reader, you can be a woman, wear lipstick, high heels and a pink dress, and be a feminist. You might even grow up to be a writer one day.
Pink. It’s a mistake not to take it seriously.
Portrait of Marquise de Pompadour by Boucher, 1759. Oil on canvas, Wallace Collection, London.
She lived beautifully, and showed the rest of us how to do it, too. She united femininity with power, without concessions to coarseness or snobbery. She was a talented actress who knew how to put on a good show with complete sincerity. That is not a contradiction; good acting is about unpeeling layers to the truth underneath, however you are feeling. No-one has ever achieved and exercised power in quite the way she did, in such elegant style, on such a grand scale, and being nice to everyone along the way.
Blatant materialism and feminine predatory sexuality find absolution in pure, sweet, shocking pink joy.
Marilyn is the girl whose faults we all forgive.
Pink is the colour of joy.