Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Girls Can't Pitch?

You have to say that with a rising, questioning intonation. This post is not about baseball (that manly sport where one mostly stands around (looking out of shape and grumpy) and then fails to hit or catch balls*) but about how to pitch story ideas to magazines or websites. From the Awl:

Inquiry letter from a man:

"Do you take pitches? Should I just write something and send it? Do I have to tickle the balls? I want to write for the awl, dammit."

Inquiry letter from a woman:

"As an long-time admirer of your site (and non-too-frequent registered commenter), I've been too shy to pitch as I've never felt like my work measured up to your fine standards."

Inquiry letter from a man:

"Can you offer a word of advice regarding how submissions work, desired timetables, what you like the pitches to look like, and so forth?"

Inquiry letter from a woman:

"I'm sure I'm going about this all wrong, but I couldn't find any sort of submission area on the site. What I'm wondering is, how does one go about becoming a contributor to The Awl?"

The story is called "a disturbing sampling."

But is it really based on a statistical sample? Like a random sample of all the admissions? That's an important question, because if it is (which I very much doubt) then all men sound like the guys in that quote and all women sound like the gals in that quote, and I don't believe that for one single moment.

What I'm willing to believe is that if you go through all the relevant e-mails you will find more of the hesitant and apologetic types from women and more of the in-your-face types from men. Indeed, the gender-coded acceptable speech is still more hesitant and more questioning for women. The problem is that such speech is not the way to get published or to get raises at work or to get your problems attended to in college or school.

But you can't just do a reversal, not at least in meat-space, and the reason is that the people you talk to react very differently to a woman who asks whose balls she'd have to tickle than to a man saying the same.

Just to pick a silly example.
This is added to create outrage, furor and clicks to my site.