As though yet another man had stripped a woman naked

Bina Shah just posted a brilliant piece on the outing of Elsa Ferrante. She discovered the novels this summer and was smitten.

“Reading” doesn’t describe what I did; “devoured” is the better word. I couldn’t put the novel down until I was at the last page, and then I immediately picked up the next one, like a chain smoker who wants the next cigarette before the first one is even finished (Here’s my Dawn article about the series, if you want to know more).

She didn’t care that she didn’t know Ferrante’s real identity, but other people did.

Particularly men, who claimed that perhaps the author was actually a man, because how could a woman write so well and so evocatively about violence, poverty, and politics?

Oh good god.

That’s why Mary Ann Evans wrote as George Eliot: so that she could write about big subject without men saying she was getting everything wrong.

Shah quotes Ferrante on her reasons for liking to be anonymous, and her threat to stop writing if anyone outed her, and cites her dismay on reading last night that an anyone had done just that.

To what end? Is she Donald Trump that her tax statements had to be searched out and leaked?

No she is not! Writers are not automatically public people, and they don’t owe it to anyone to be public. It’s none of our damn business.

Shah wonders if Gatti felt he’d struck a blow for truth.

It didn’t feel that way to me. To me, it felt as though yet another man had stripped a woman naked and paraded her around, the way they do in villages in rural Pakistan when an insult to a family or tribe or man’s honor has been perceived. The village elders decree that the only way to avenge that honor is to take a woman from the offending party or family, strip her, shave her head, and make her walk in front of everyone.

We’ll bring Ferrante down to size, is what it feels like.

Exactly. It does feel like a man publicly stripping a woman.

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