Friday Speak Out!: A Woman and a Writer, Guest Post by Maria Rainier

Friday, March 04, 2011
A Woman and a Writer

by Maria Rainier

My story is not a new one. It begins in the kitchen, where I’m listening to Ella Fitzgerald as I prepare lunch while running the dishwasher, making vegetable stock, cleaning out the refrigerator with baking soda, and waiting for the washer to stop rumbling so I know to switch the clothes to the dryer. My laptop with my half-written (half unwritten) manuscript puts itself to sleep.

After lunch, I seal the leftovers in container while my significant other returns to work. I promise him it’s no trouble. (I don’t know I’m lying.)

Then, the dishwasher is done; I put the dishes away. The vegetable stock starts to spit; I lower the heat. I clean the fridge. I decide to line-dry the clothes to save money, although it takes twenty minutes instead of two. Hours later, I’m sewing up a hole in my significant other’s shirt and another day goes by without another chapter written.

When I realize what’s happening, I drop the pot of vegetable stock and scream, “What is this, 1935?”


Somewhere between scrubbing the bathtub and making homemade laundry detergent, I remember Simone de Beauvoir. In her book, The Second Sex, she mourns that although women made strides in the second wave of feminism, she became “expected to also be a woman, and she has to add the duties of her professional study to those implied in her femininity.”

To help me make time to write, my significant other begins splitting chores with me, 50/50. Eventually, I realize that even if he insisted on fairness, I still don’t feel adequate as a writer or as a woman. In my mind, I have to be both, but both are full-time jobs. If I can’t do all the chores, I’m not a good woman. If I can’t find time to publish something, I’m not a writer. Halfway doing both makes me feel guilty all the time. Meanwhile, men in traditional families like mine only have one job—their job—in a society that’s made hunting and defending the family against bears and rival clans moot.


I read A Room of One’s Own twice in college and wrote my senior thesis on gender prejudice. I’m nothing if not a feminist. Still, I find myself struggling to this day to be a writer and a woman. I consistently find myself trying to do more than my share around the house. Sometimes, when I let slip to my stay-at-home-mom friends that I let my significant other do the dishes, they look at me as if I told them I beat him with a shovel.

It’s an ongoing battle, but as women writers, we must hold tight our right to be both. Often, we ourselves are our greatest adversaries.

I’ll finish the way Virginia did, because every speech must end with a peroration. “Remember your responsibilities.” She’s not talking about the dishes. Remember, instead, “how much depends on you, and what an influence you can exert upon the future.”

Write on.

* * *
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degrees, and what it takes to succeed as a student taking online programs remotely from home. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Cayla Kluver said...

Fabulous! Perfect leading up to International Women's Week. I really enjoyed this.

Krissy Brady | Sell Crazy Someplace Else said...

What an EXCELLENT post! Thanks so much! Since deciding to pick up my writing again, I have completely let go of the housekeeping, though I do intend on integrating it into my schedule again, just not in the obsessive way that I used to. It began to feel thankless; it was if I was the only one who cared how our home looked. I realize that everyone has their priorities, so I decided I would have my own too. Feeling like a woman, and feeling feminine as opposed to smelling like Lysol and other cleaners, and feeling accomplished with my writing, has become much more to me than my boyfriend's socks sitting on the floor for days... and days...

eliana23 said...

"I dont' know I'm lying." Excellent line. Wow. Last time I read A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN was very emotional to me, with two young sons who don't give me an inch of my own. I'm working on balance right now, eternally...Thanks for the post.

Juliann Wetz said...

Everything you said is true. Very insightful. Though what plagues me more than ME thinking I need to do everything around the house is others' perceptions that I should be doing everything around the house instead of selfishly writing.

Luckily, my husband is not one of those people. He supports my need/desire to write wholeheartedly. Which makes me a Lucky Woman and Writer.

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