While I’m defending white, middle class females who write: Elizabeth Wurtzel

Elizabeth Wurtzel is getting trashed on the internet for her “self-indulgent, rambling” piece published in New York. Everyone from Jezebel to my favorite feminists writers on the internet seem to find her post ridiculous or offensive. There are some things I like about it and here they are:

Elizabeth Wurtzel is writing about what it’s like to be 44. I just turned 44 yesterday, so I suppose it’s self-indulgent of me, but its kind of fascinating for me to read about it.

I like this sentence:

I am proud that I have never so much as kissed a man for any reason besides absolute desire, and I am more pleased that I only write what I feel like and it has been lucrative since I got out of college in 1989.

How many women say that? Wurtzel is stating: “I am hot and I am smart and I make money.” That is something that has always fascinated about Wurtzel: as a Harvard grad and “attractive” best-selling writer in her twenties, the combination of brilliance and beauty defied the “smart” or “pretty” polarities women are so often forced into. It’s also still not cool or okay for women to talk about earning money at all, not to mention publicly. She does.

While Googling herself to find a piece she’d written, Wurtzel came across a Harvard doc about prominent Harvard alumni:

under the rubric of “Literature,” there was my name. That would not have been so strange except that I was the only woman and, with John Ashbery, the only person on the list still alive. It occurred to me that it had been so long since I last published a book—not since 2001—that maybe they thought I was dead. But there it was, me with T. S. Eliot, e. e. cummings, William S. Burroughs, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Norman Mailer, John Updike, George Plimpton, David Halberstam, and Henry David Thoreau. It was a shockingly distinguished group to find myself lingering with. I had certainly moved up in the world by doing nothing. And maybe all it meant was that somebody in a communications office at the university had suicidal tendencies that she got through by reading my books. But I was moved nonetheless.


When I grow up, I thought, I am going to be a damn great writer.

The only woman. Wow. It sucks that she is the only woman but I am happy a woman is included. I’m glad that she told the world she was included. Who else is going to do it?

Then, there’s this:

I am committed to feminism and don’t understand why anyone would agree to be party to a relationship that is not absolutely equal. I believe women who are supported by men are prostitutes, that is that, and I am heartbroken to live through a time where Wall Street money means these women are not treated with due disdain.

Women in the world are, much of the time, economically dependent on men. Some of those women are admired for that and some of those women are derided. Wurtzel is pointing out that hypocrisy when most people ignore it.

So that’s what I like about the piece.