Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Bitch Unmasked

OK. So I switched to Blogger beta, little guessing that it would automatically combine both my blogs under one identity, my real one. Ha! The Bitch busted at a stroke.

Ah well, the anonymity was fun while it lasted (though some people had already guessed, and the clues were there), but there was a serious point. There is a long and honourable literary tradition of pseudonymity and anonymity, and for good reason. Although obviously it can be used for nefarious purposes - the personal attack on Scott Pack by The Observer's Browser comes to mind - it can also allow for clearer intellectual debate, a way of focussing properly on the issues.

Let me illustrate. A few weeks ago, one-time TV presenter Selina Scott was interviewed by The Guardian about her criticisms of contemporary television. One of Scott's main points was that older women are under-represented on today's TV. Scott, a willowy Diana lookalike (a fact which, as far as I remember, the article made a fair deal of) is now a woman of, shall we say, a certain age (but still a damn good-looker, actually!) And how did the interviewer respond to this statement of Scott's? By asking her if it were sour grapes! By focussing not on the issue - not inviting Scott to elaborate or prove her point or engaging in a debate about it - but on Scott herself, and in such a way as to invalidate and trivialise her point. And how did Scott feel forced to respond? By saying defensively that of course it wasn't sour grapes, she'd had plenty of opportunities - by which statement she was in great danger of disproving her point herself! The whole issue of women in television was thus muddied before being quickly dropped.

We're all familiar with the Victorian female novelists who adopted male pseudonyms in order to be read without prejudice, or indeed at all, and as I've indicated on my other blog, I've had my own experience of being silenced as a writer simply for being who people thought I was, or indeed for knowing the people I knew.

This blog was an attempt to interrogate that, and the anonymity was intended as an illustration of my point, the need sometimes in this age of obsession with personality to separate the personality from the message.

But you know who I am now. You can judge my comments through what you know about my life and own career. Ha! So hang me.


Katy Evans-Bush said...

So THAT'S what happened! I have to admit it did make me laugh.

Well, now we can have long, tortuous conversations about all the little things that don't work properly in the beta version.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Er, yes... Here goes: I find I can't leave comments as a blogger on other blogs, but have to do so as 'other'.

Katy Evans-Bush said...

Yes, but I think it might be only with blogs that haven't 'switched'. Do they tell you this when you're deciding whether to switch? No! And some blogs don't allow comments by 'other'!

However, it may mean you spend less time comenting on other people's blogs and more time - ahem - well, who knows.

Anyway, welcome to the world of un-invisibility-cloaked people...

Alias Lucy Diamond said...

Must confess, I hadn't guessed and thought it was a very exciting reveal...Ooh, the Bitch and Elizabeth Baines are the same PERSON!
Am blissfully ignorant of this beta malarkey. Think that's just as well...
Sue x

roger said...

Ah, hello Elizabeth. Are you the Elizabeth Baines who used to co-edit Metropolitan? In which case you probably don't remember but you once ran a story of mine. The Symptoms of His Madness Were As Follows: was the title. I met you at a reading in London, on Longacre, was it Waterstones, Russell Hoban was there, and Livi Michaels.

I'm having trouble with beta.blogger too. Sounds a bit like betablockers doesn't it?

Elizabeth Baines said...

Yes, and of course I remember your story - it's a really great one!I do remember meeting you, too. (It was Dillons then - we did quite a few readings there)