Here, one has the perfect example of justice: The men have kept their women enslaved…stupid and limited and apart, for their male vanity and power; result: the dull women bore the daylights out of the men.– Martha Gellhorn.
I wanted to speak men this week but I coincidentally bumped into Julia’s article and reality dawned on me. I couldn’t.
Why should I be a footnote to somebody else’s life?” a woman I intend to write and live like; bitterly asked in an interview. This, was one of the many interviews where critics always aimed at finding analogy between her rangy writing style and that of her more appreciated husband(ex husband) Ernest Hemingway, one of the century’s famous writers. She got married 3 times, divorced both marriages and termed marriage “rather boring.” She drank and smoked her entire life; died at the age of 89. It is often said, she lived like a man. She didn’t. Martha Gellhorn, lived like a woman. She did not term herself, a feminist. Yet, Martha Gellhorn’s life was more of feminism in action. She also termed herself as a writer, not a woman writer. She hated the idea that women, could not become correspondents at war and did everything to become one. At 81, she still did a war story.
Feminists nark me. I think they’ve done a terrible disservice to women, branded us as ‘women’s writers’. Nobody says ‘men writers’ and before we were all simply writers. This ‘woman’ tag leaves one seemingly apt only for women readers which is hardly my idea of my audience. I have slashed three of them and am about to slam a fourth, letters from idiot women wanting me to do or say or write things as a ‘woman writer’. –Martha Gellhorn. (a temper outburst)
” feminism is a sham!” is a phrase that I am so used to, they are old news to me. The other day, a friend called feminism, Utopian. We laughed and laughed and laughed and then had some Scotch. It never bothers me anymore.
Julia pascal, a London playwright/theater director whose plays have mainly focused on women’s lives, wrote one of my favorite articles, “understanding men.” Julia, a member of the League of Professional Theater Women, was the first woman director at London’s National Theater. She happened to have met; Martha Gellhorn, one of the first female war correspondents for an interview on a play she was writing. I envy her, meeting this iron lady who gave a rats ass about anyone’s opinion. In her own way, she believed that freedom is the most expensive possession there is; it has to be paid for with loneliness.
These were two women divided by forty years in a room talking about men and war. One drinking Scotch, the other; Vodka. One; highly educated, a child of enlightened German settlers while the other, a child of parents who cared nothing for female education; Jewish. A non feminist and a woman, who’s stand; we do not know. And yet, they connected. They had conflicting views but similar ideologies. This, was interesting. Julia, was a pioneer in the Creative’s industry; so was Martha. These women had different ideologies; Julia put her hair down, while Gellhorn believed that a woman was to put her hair up. Yet, Julia still came to the second interview with her hair down, even after Martha told her how elegant it was, to have your hair up, as a woman.
The only way I can pay back for what fate and society have handed me is to try, in minor totally useless ways, to make an angry sound against injustice.- Martha Gellhorn
All Julia says she gathered from her interview with Martha was, YOU CAN’T WRITE MEN. I read the whole articles and I saw a woman through 2 failed marriages, 1 boring and bad failed marriage making it 3, bold life ideologies, 2 types of women both pacesetters, a great career and a good life. I got to see how it ended with those 2 women in the same room; different ideologies. Menstrual blood, brought bad blood between them. Interesting, right? So, I realized after reading the article; YOU CAN’T SPEAK MEN either. I also learned there is more to marriage than we know, “You start with romance and end up talking about (gas) bills.”
I read Julia’s article via email this week and wondered; should marriage be on a contract basis? Then I logged in on WordPress and met subjective hat’s post on dissolving marriage; you can read it here and wondered, should marriage be illegal? The other day, I asked Megan( a member of dsba), “Why do men behave in certain ways kama kuweka mguu kwa meza?” She laughed and told me, let me know when you know. I haven’t known yet. Won’t bother either.
Men’s privileges and inequality during WW11 made Martha hate being a woman, she hated bleeding, she wished she had done a hysterectomy. At her 80s, she was disgusted by it all. The marriage, the sex and the men. For decades, she had worked with men and she didn’t understand them. If they weren’t loving you, they were pitying you and other days; they were envious of your work if married to you. Still, she preferred to have male role models than female, to see how much she could do. But, she never understood men; despite working with them, working like them and defying odds. Many women, are in Martha’s shoes. We just need to be men, and by men I mean normal but we can’t speak men. And so, we stop trying to understand men, just like Martha Gellhorn. Instead of wasting time understanding a man, take that time to understand yourself more; just like Gellhorn did.
Yet, Martha Gellhorn has a son.