“I’m on this listserv for women in media, and a few years ago this woman who works for an empowerment organization wrote to say, ‘Hey we’re partnering with this advertising firm on a campaign to rebrand feminism’—and it just kind of set me off. It wasn’t necessarily the project that did it, but the way she was talking about it. Because feminism isn’t a product—it isn’t a static thing, and thus you can’t rebrand it. Soon thereafter, a few advertising agencies in London set out to partner with design companies, in conjunction with Elle UK, to do the same thing—to rebrand feminism. What is branding, anyway, but a way to get the largest amount of people to get excited about your message in the most straightforward, simple way? And that’s so antithetical to a complex topic like feminism.”
The ultimate journey that any writer takes is an emotional one, and that is what informs the geographical and professional passages you undergo, the moral development you attempt, the intellectual maturity you reach for. Being a writer is exhilarating, demanding, fascinating; it is the most wonderful life, but it can be terribly lonely. In fact, I am still surprised each time by how singular and private the experience of writing is—how this big conversation the writer conducts, and this desire to gobble up the world comes down, finally, to a quiet moment alone.
The world is a confusing place. I am in Ireland for two weeks with the writing program that I direct, and here the recent referendum on same-sex marriage is still very much on people’s minds. In 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. The vote, in the end, was not close: 62% voted Yes, with nearly every part of the country voting to support the referendum. Roscommon-South Leitrim, a rural county toward the north of the Republic, voted No by a slim margin. Everywhere else, most voters pulled the lever to approve the constitutional change. In parts of Dublin, the vote to approve same-sex marriage was almost three-to-one.