Where Are All the Creative Women?
Have Women Been Painted Out of the Picture?
Creativity v Motherhood; the Inevitable Battle
Have you ever wondered why there aren't many women composers? Can you even think of just one? What about artists? Everyone can name a few female writers, although many of them, George Eliot and George Sand, for example, have masqueraded as male when choosing their nom de plume. Even nowadays, the names JK Rowling and EL James hardly give away their authors' female identity.
Throughout history, the creative arts have been male-dominated. Why? The Bible was written by forty men; where were all the women? They were looking after the next generation, of course, silly me. Scientifically speaking, there's no evidence that women and men are any different when it comes to creative ability but It's clear that women's creativity has been stifled by society's expectations. Can a woman's usually overwhelming urge for offspring be sufficient to dispel any creative urges she might have had? Was there ever a suitable alternative to motherhood anyway? Could a woman be creative and a mother too, whatever historical period she was born into if her financial status allowed? Perhaps there are more questions than answers.
A Man's World?
Creativity On Hold
When I was younger, I believed having children was the most creative thing a woman could do but in later years, it occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't. After all, infertility and health issues aside, from a purely biological standpoint, it's something virtually any woman can do. Where is the creativity in that? The baby just develops on its own without you having to check it's getting the right amount of air, fluids and nutrients etc. It just sits there nonchalant in your womb like some real-life Tamagotchi, whiling away the time and taking what it wants from you - while you worry about it every waking moment. And if you don't, it'll kick you in the kidneys to remind you.
Everything's on automatic pilot until the nine months are up and it's then when your offspring eventually springs out, putting you through the most excruciating pain imaginable, that the real creating starts. Eighteen years of it. Now you'll need a book called: 'How to Be a Hundred Different People All at Once'. The book is part of a trilogy. The other titles are: 'How to Be in a Hundred different places All at Once' and: 'How to do a Hundred Different Household Tasks All at Once.' Unfortunately, you won't find any of these books in the bookstore as no-one has written them yet, but not to worry as the titles clearly explain why women throughout the ages have had little time to be creative.
As my childbearing years drew to a close, it gradually dawned on me that I had other creative urges that had been sadly neglected. You think you have all the time in the world in your teens or twenties, then the childbearing years come and go in a haze of days. One day your children still look you in the eye and before you know it, they're six-feet high.
Creative spirit aside, even normal things get put on the proverbial back burner due to the 'joys' of motherhood and whatever they are, I've never been quite able to ascertain. The world moved on somewhat in the twenty years I was housebound. My passport didn't get used once and for stay-at-home-mums like me, even something as straightforward as using a cash point card or an automatic door became too daunting a thought. I could speak volumes about the price and absorbency of all major brands of disposable nappies and was chairman of the local playgroup for seven years but once my four children were all old enough to attend school, it took a while to catch up with everyday life outside of the home and preschool environment.
In my forties, I decided to become a writer but it was only a half-hearted attempt and my two novels remain unpublished to this day. Sometimes I feel sorry for my two main characters who are still stuck on a train somewhere halfway through chapter nine. With the advancing years, the children and running a home still kept me busy, so instead of writing more novels, I decided to write short stories. These soon gave way to poems, humorous one-paragraph anecdotes and eventually the occasional quote, haiku or one-liner. Life's just too busy to be creative, I tell myself whenever I get infrequent pangs of guilt in a bookshop, knowing that out of all those books on the shelves, none of them has been written by me. With increasing age, my eyes are no longer any good to even read them!
In my fifties, the grandchildren arrived at the same time as my elderly mum needed daily assistance in her own home, and I was her only child. Maybe life's just too short for a woman to be truly creative. As women, whatever stage of our lives we are at, we tend to put them on hold for the sake of our progeny. Creativity is thus sacrificed at the altar of motherhood and the patriarchal gods always win.
Would it have been any different if I'd been born a man?
Nowadays, There Are More Doors Open to Creative Women
Does your creativity suffer at the expense of normal day to day activities and family life?
Make Time For Creativity
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Stella Kaye