Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey



Why Self-Publishing Is Empowering For Women: a post for international women’s day

I’ve always considered myself to be a feminist. It’s a personal term – whether you like it or not, these days feminism means different things to different people, and it annoys me greatly when the term is hijacked by those who insist that only their definition is ‘right’. So, I’m a feminist who is happily and lovingly married; who is a mother who has chosen to not work outside the home while my daughter is growing up; who rarely cooks if she can help it but who does do all of the washing and ironing and most of the housework. I’m a feminist who can change plugs, put up shelves, and tile bathrooms, but who hates to put out the rubbish and will gladly defer all grime-related jobs to my husband. In our household we avoid definitive gender roles, toys, words, clothing, TV programmes, and all other obvious stereotypes.

From this perspective, I approached my self-publishing career with my feminism very much in mind. Living off my husband’s salary, wanting – needing – to spend my time at home caring for my child, the ability to publish my work and begin to earn my own money from writing was a very big deal indeed. Self-publishing speaks to the part of me that doesn’t want to ask permission from anyone; it should speak to the core of all women writers who do not need a gate-keeper to let them into the club. (I’m framing traditional publishing as a patriarchal influence here, but only in an abstract sense, of course. Although, historically, this has often been the case.) Self-publishing offers a clear route to market, a way to bring your work – work which often speaks of women’s lives and joys and emotions and fears – to readers directly. It is freedom, the lack of restraints, the beating down of a great impenetrable door.

For me, it has been a fantastic success. In under three years I’ve reached over 200,000 readers. I’ve earned more than I would have in any part-time job I was qualified to do. I’ve done this from my own home, under my own steam, making my own choices. I’ve written about single mothers and women fighting for justice, about the older generation of women who refuse to be shut up and pinned down; about women trying to find love but only wanting it on their terms. Never mind self-publishing being a feminist issue – for me writing itself is all about my personal beliefs, hopes and concerns. My daughter has seen me carve out a career for myself, working around my commitments cheerfully and successfully. She is only six-years-old, but already she has a strong understanding of the power of making your own choices in life.

If self-publishing is all about independence, then self-publishing for women is about taking control of your words and your world and using the power of the ebook and the POD paperback to have your voice heard. Whether you are writing crime or chick-lit, sci-fi or mysteries, if you are a woman and you are self-publishing then you are in fantastic company. Happy International Women’s Day, and keep those words flowing!

Girls v Boys

Welcome to the second week of the A to Z challenge, and Girls v Boys.

I’m a feminist – a bold statement, but one which is close to my heart. I didn’t chose to be, can’t remember reading anything that set me off or knowing a woman who was a role model for feminism in my youth. All I know is I have always been tuned-in to pick up on any inequality in, or stereotyping of, female roles.

In my late twenties I had a job with a recruitment company. My boss was just about to hire someone to work alongside me, doing effectively the same job. She was discussing with me what salary she should offer. She decided on £18K. ‘But that’s two thousand a year more than I’m on,’ I objected, quite reasonably. She said: ‘He has a family to support. And he’s a man.’ I kid you not.

Anyway, fast forward to parenthood. You can imagine how resistant I was to traditional gender roles. In our household quite a lot is reversed: I lived on my own for many years and jobs like putting together flat-packed furniture, wiring plugs, or putting up shelves or blinds generally falls to me. That is, hubby doesn’t get a look in. He loves cooking, which is more than fine by me. I do the washing and ironing; he puts out the rubbish. I manage the money; he earns most of it. We’re a modern mix, and I figured this was a great environment for a daughter to be born into.

Toys – she’s had a train-set and building blocks, alongside fluffy teddies. Clothes – blue and red and green feature strongly amongst the (undoubtedly preferred) pink. But at only 2 years old she would point at a certain page in the Next Directory and declare: ‘That’s a boy’s bedroom.’ ‘How do you know?’ I’d ask. ‘Because it’s blue, Mummy.’ You could almost hear the unspoken ‘Duh!’

Toy picnic sometime last year.

Toy picnic sometime last year.

Where did she pick this up from? Now, at five, she is displaying an alarming disdain for boys. Apparently at school their play is very much ‘girls versus boys’. I’ve indexed enough early years child care books lately to know that nurseries and pre-schools are still having to be reminded not to reinforce gender stereotypes or gendered play. I guess it just really is in the genes. My daughter loves pink, and dolls, and playing with babies. And she says boys smell 😉 But I’ll still grind on and do my best to remind her as she grows up that she can follow a path of her own choosing, and she doesn’t have to conform.

We haven’t even got to Disney films yet … Argghhh!

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