A man's book is a book. A woman's book is a woman's book. A crowd of fathers-husbands-big brothers-lovers are watching, not our capacities as writers, but our behavior. We are allowed to write, OK. But not anything. "I like your books very much, but why do you insist on using crude words?""That's the way the character talks you know," I would say, "and besides it's the way you talk, yourself.""Yes, maybe, but is it necessary that you write it?" We have to be decent. Exceptions are tolerated if they are without ambiguity, part of the right erotic game. We have a body: university degrees don't obliterate the fact. When Kristeva got a prize not long ago, a critic wrote in a so-called liberal newspaper: "She has beautiful legs."
We have a physiology: after Beauvoir novel La femme rompue [The woman destroyed], the critic of Le monde1 said, "She's an old woman." He himself was about to die, but he was a man and consequently had no age. The quantity of whisky that Françoise Sagan absorbed was carefully measured. And I saw with my own eyes, almost with tears, Marguerite Duras, just coming out of a clinic after a breakdown, questioned, I mean tortured, by a TV reporter, about how she feels now and if she is inspired as before and if she is not frightened by the blank page. Indiscretion with women is regular.
We have a psychology: I got some free analysis after my first book was published. One journalist wrote that I probably was ugly and frustrated -- till, meeting him at a cocktail party, I patted him on the shoulder saying: "Ho, sir, I'm the ugly, frustrated one." He ran away while the others laughed. He himself was a piece of fat.
From Are Women Writers Still Monsters? -- a speech given at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, February 1975.