Essays About Working Women

Even now that I’m regularly paid to write—and now that what I write isn’t so personal—I still blog. Recently, personal essays have moved back into the spotlight: Earlier this week, Slate’s Laura Bennett wrote about the rise of personal essay writing for online publications, aptly titled, “The First-Person Industrial Complex.” Bennett identifies a trend nearly as old as the internet itself that has become newly predatory; she posits that writing about one’s most troubling experiences can be exploitative.There’s not much money in writing about oneself, and many personal stories are packaged misleadingly for the sake of potentially going viral.

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This is, more than anything, a labor problem—writers toiling at the whims of a system with hazardous working conditions that involve being paid next to nothing and guaranteed a lifetime of SEO infamy.

It’s an experience Cord Jefferson wrote about last year in one of the personal essays Bennett commends, “The Racism Beat": Neither Irby nor Andrews-Dyers’s books marked the beginning of a renaissance in confessional memoir publications for young women of color.

Typically, the ones that make it to mainstream publication are written by authors who’ve already earned fame in other arenas.

Posting that work online holds me accountable to those thoughts and that reasoning.

The responses are both challenging and affirming in ways that can be as informative as the experiences I’ve written.


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