BLVR: You wrote an essay in 2008 called “Men Explain Things to Me” (which appeared in truncated form in the L.A. Times). In it, you tell the story of a man at a party who told you about a book you really should know about that turned out to be the book you wrote, River of Shadows. The essay hit on issues of gender and authority, but it also seems to be tied to this matter of audience and how you are read and by whom.
RS: And you know what? He hadn’t even read the book. First, I don’t feel that I’ve been really handicapped by my gender as a writer, at least not directly—taking my own aspirations seriously and asking others to did involve overcoming my upbringing. After that it’s more the personal, face-to-face stuff when I get squelched, dismissed, insulted, and presumed ignorant by silly men in passing. And as I made clear in that piece, I’ve had really fantastic male editors through much of my writing life, so I have been very well respected and supported by men: “men” is not a tidy category here. I wrote that piece because my friend Marina said that young women needed to hear it, to know that these silencings are widespread and they are not alone. And of course there are people, men mostly, who get huffy that I take on subjects like the history of cinema and technology that aren’t supposed to be, apparently, my turf.