I am leisurely today and reading the excellent Review section of the Wall Street Journal that includes a commentary on one of the most famous poems in the English language. Then, the question hits me, coming from an unknown region of my brain:
Why does it seem that there are so few women poets?
Here is how not to answer this serious question: “Girls are discouraged from any accomplishment from the earliest age.”
First, it’s a boring answer because it’s absurdly overused. Two, it’s patently untrue: Knitting, for example is easily dominated by women. Then, in every Western society, for several centuries, young upper-class and middle-class women were actively encouraged to pursue poetry, more so than were boys, I think.
And, by the way, when I swim in the cold Pacific Ocean, as I am going to this afternoon, there are invariably more women than men in the water alongside me. (There are always few of any sex. It’s not difficult to ascertain that four is more than two.)
Next, if you are going to answer that publishers actively discriminate against women rather than pursuing the prestige and profits that come from literary success, you had better give some evidence, some sort of evidence.
And no, writing poetry does not require upper body strength.