G. Willow Wilson and Amanda Palmer Open Up About Sexism in Creative Industries

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Earlier this week Medium published a piece by Amanda Palmer in which the pregnant artist shared a letter she’d received recently from a “concerned” (read: judgmental) Patreon supporter.

The email came with the subject line “Baby announcement right after joining Patreon?…Scam much?,” and went on to warn Palmer that either her baby or her career would inevitably suffer from Palmer’s decision to become a mother:

You have a reasonably sized, and growing fanbase. There will always be people to buy your merch, your albums, tickets to your shows. You didn’t NEED to join Patreon, but you did anyway. Then you announced your pregnancy, after years of saying you didn’t want to be a mom. It makes me worry about what’s going to happen next.

Child care is my day job. I babysit my two nephews. I know that young children need LOTS of attention. Especially if they are hyper-sensitive like you or me. Chances are you’ll pass that trait on to your kid. When you have this baby, either him/her/it will suffer, or your career will suffer. Your career will suffer a lot sooner if your pregnancy is as physically and emotionally draining as some of my friends’ pregnancies.

Hoo boy.

In an open response letter, Palmer admitted to worries about how having her first child might impact her career, worries that are understandable considering that this “concerned fan” isn’t alone in their belief that motherhood may make women less productive, reliable, creative and intelligent. Palmer writes, “Where I grew up, there weren’t really any Mom Artists in my field of vision […] Female musicians I encountered at an early age were never shown in videos or pictures with children in tow.”

The essay goes on to address the politics of maternity and crowdfunding, and the pressure on women to compartmentalize their life by not using supporters’ money on baby formula and other necessary parental supplies (a pressure that it’s hard to imagine a father-artist facing).

It’s obviously a uniquely privileged position to be able to fund your career primarily with crowdfunding, but the absurd pressure on women to a.) not get pregnant or b.) not change their output at all during or following pregnancy, isn’t specific to creators who rely on Patreon or Kickstarter.

After reading Palmer’s essay, Ms. Marvel artist G. Willow Wilson shared similar experiences that she had while working with Marvel:

She handed in the first Ms. Marvel arc outline 48 hours after giving birth? TIL: G. Willow Wilson is a literal superhero.

These kinds of stories are nothing new, and obviously the situation for many women is even graver. But it’s worth pointing out that, for industries that claim “the most talented person/best storytellers/best person for the job” will inevitably rise to the top, the deck sure does seem to be stacked against women.

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