The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

A Roomful of Women

In a comment yesterday (somewhere in Janet’s Undead Thread, I think) Francesca mentioned a female student who was uncomfortable as the only woman in a class. It reminded me of something that happened to me quite a few years ago, in the early 1980s when I was maybe 35 or so. I was participating in a small group that met weekly to read and critique the members’ poetry. By “small” I mean it was never more than six or eight people, and the majority of those were women. That was not a problem for me—writing poetry is not a very macho activity, and I am not a very macho guy.

One night I found myself the only man present. For some reason we were meeting in the apartment of one of the members, a middle-aged divorcee, instead of in the usual institutional meeting room at the Civic Center. I wouldn’t have thought anything about being the only male, but somehow the fact that we were in this woman’s apartment made it a little uncomfortably social, even intimate.

Before we got started on the poetry, the woman whose apartment we were in announced dramatically “There’s something I want to share with everybody.” Then, after a pause while we focused our attention on her: “I’ve started a new relationship.”

This set off a lot of warm cooing—these were not just women, but southern women—from everybody except me. I’m sure my memory is exaggerating this, but it seems to me that I bolted from the apartment as if they had threatened to set me on fire. I remember feeling almost panicked by a sense of suffocating and totally inappropriate intimacy, and that I must get away before the talk went any further. At any rate, I left, quickly.

I draw no particular lesson from this; it’s only amusing. The interesting thing (if any) is that it wasn’t the fact of being the only man in a roomful of women that bothered me, it was the particular turn that the conversation took. I could have had that conversation comfortably with one woman, but not with six.

I never went to another meeting of the group, by the way.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)