Why do you write?

Because I’m a spider and words are my silk. Because I’m inspired and have something to say. Because writing is crack, and I’m an addict.  ~ Answers from National Writing Month

What do we write?

What we know, what moves us.  About our findings, travels. Life events. Someone else’s story. Eye-catching headlines. Issues.

About curiosities. Questions posted on social media.

The last two inspired a post I wrote and deleted. Too long, too verbose. This shorter, lighter form survived since the question raised continued moving about my mind.


This was the question.

Why did Washington State pass a law on gender neutrality?

This was followed by commentary linking said law to child abuse. Choosing neutral on a birth certificate rather than boy or girl.

 It should be clear enough, right? Boy. Girl. Boy. Girl.

 What about intersex children?

 And who decides?

 The doctor? The parents? Would we like it decided for us?

 Take Jim Bruce, for example.

Jim Bruce was born with XY male chromosomes but ambiguous genitals. After his birth in 1976, Bruce’s external organs and testes were surgically removed and he was raised as a girl. He struggled for years, preferring rough play and being attracted to girls.

Leaving it up to him as adult, would that have been better? Not an option at the time, but let’s just imagine. If you read the article, you’ll see the girl eventually grew into a man.

Or take model Hanne Gaby Odiele

She  was born with an intersex trait known as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) in which a woman has XY chromosomes more typically found in men.

Should life have been decided for her at birth?

Up to 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits, according to the United Nations — a figure roughly equivalent to the number of redheads.

We like clear answers, clear definitions. Clear lines to follow. Most times we like it all to be the way we were raised.

 We’re also writers.

And writers can provoke a great deal of thought and annoyance and anger in equal measure.  All those wonderful ways with words. All that curiosity. Topics in need of exploration. Taboos. Convictions. All constantly addressed, challenged, written and re-written about.

Confronting, debating, or even discussing firmly established routines and rules can be infuriating. I know.

But is that our concern as writers?


Images: Pixabay

18 responses to “Why?

  1. Exceptional post!! However, as you say “why” I say “why not?” Write what moves you. Challenge the world and people’s thinking. My brother was born with all male genitalia but he was more feminine than I am. I’m taller than my brother and more sports minded, but I definitely am a female. How can anyone else decide who are what we are?

  2. Ah, gender norms. I always wondered about that–assigning gender at birth. I remember learning about those born different. I wondered how the adults could know which gender the child should be. Turns out, they don’t.

  3. Yes, great post, Silvia! I love Gwyn Rogers’ thoughts, everything she said! I believe “it” is our concern as writers. I think no matter what you write–even if you simply want to entertain–those words will provoke thoughts, ideas, questions, a better understanding of yourself or others, and possibly controversy. Artists keep the world on its toes!

  4. What a quote: I am a spider and words are my silk!
    Anyway, I think gender assignment is a tough thing when it isn’t clear at birth on the basis of physical characteristics. From what I’ve read, decisions by parents can frequently lead to bad results for the child’s psychological development. I think waiting is the only option – the brain takes time to develop specificity.
    Thought provoking post!

  5. Hi Silvia – I agree with your thoughts here and the comments – especially Noelle’s – we can’t make decisions for others … particularly for a child. Such a difficult topic – as humans we really should be more empathetic to fellow humans … I hope that lesson is being learnt in the 21st century – thanks for writing this … and those whys … love the spider one … cheers Hilary

  6. Excellent post, Silvia. Who are we to judge anyone? We want to categorize people by the way the look, act, and dress, but that leaves so much room for error and not getting to know the true person.

  7. Ditto everyone’s comments Silvia. If one person has their entrenched belief/thought/habitual attitude changed by a writer’s words, the writer has accomplished something of value …

  8. Words are food for thought, Silvia. I write because I have always liked to write, since I was a kid. I possess that writer’s nature of simply observing. My philosophy on published writing is that my pen is my sword. And that if you’re writing to inform your reader, then what you write must be factual. I don’t want to write to change the reader’s thinking necessarily but rather to raise questions, as you have here, to provide that arena for thought, dialectic, and potential fundaments for change, if change may be required. You saw that on Anton Chekhov’s birthday Jan. 29 I posted a passage from his work. That passage presented a scene and raised a question. Chekhov didn’t judge, but he posed questions and didn’t resolve them. He let the reader ponder and come to his own conclusions.

    Thanks for writing this piece, Silvia. You’ve got your readers thinking and discussing. Well done.

  9. Great post. I don’t think any mere mortal has the right to decide who another mortal is or should be. I sure wouldn’t want anyone making those important decisions for me. I’m the only one who gets to say who I am and who I’m going to be. I get to decide if I will marry, whom I’ll marry, and how I dress, and my preference for entertainment. I can’t imagine anyone thinking it should be any different.

  10. I’m with Gwynn (and, apparently, everyone else)—yes to it being our concern as writers. Yes to raising questions, providing a different perspective, making the reader *think*. Which, by the way, you did brilliantly here :)
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

  11. Exceptional and Magical – great details and very adventurous!!

I welcome your thoughts.

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