In my years of writing, I have observed that woman tend to be better networkers than men. And their organizations like Alyss Dixson’s VIDA (Women in Literary Arts and Letters), promote women’s efforts en bloc, that is, are open to women only.

There may be the occasional Darling White Male Writer Living In Brooklyn. But as far as I can tell, the Old Boy’s Network, is long gone. If it lives on, in some lodge badly in need or repair, its influence is weak. Such a phantom has not arisen to my aid, in my struggles for recognition. And I live in Brooklyn.

Women have certainly benefited from cultural diversity, gender equality and all that jazz; as well as gay men and men of color, in getting their works published and performed and promoted. For years, especially in the theater, this inequality was especially pronounced. Countless theaters advertised that: “We are especially interested in scripts from gays, minorities and women.” If a sign with those words had been exhibited on the wall of a personnel office in a regular business, the offender would have been sued by the government for unfair labor practices. Today, you see less of that. However, there are many theaters with special interests, seldom mine.

Where is the equivalent pro white male group, I ask you?

Whitman once observed that women will never be free, in the way he imagined men are, as long as they huddle in female company, clinging to each other’s skirts, drawing strength from numbers, but not as individuals, still writing from their nature and sensibility. He certainly wasn’t thinking of Emily Dickinson, who strongly disliked him, who might not known of her, but certain female novelists, popular then and forgotten now.

I have observed that, in American culture and society, we tend to confuse identity with equality. A giant and dwarf, for example, might or should have equal rights, but they have very different life experiences. Women and men will never think, act, talk, sing, and write the same until some far off science fiction future when people can change gender casually as cross dressing. Even then, there will be those unsatisfied with their new identity and petition the government to provide them with a better fit.

Women have never had it so good. They can still huddle as feminists, step out of the box and stand as individuals like my peer Annie Dillard, or take male names and opt for the role as honorary men—and expect to be recognized by men as their “equals.” And even vault into the realm of the Super Amazon, defeating men in all spheres, physical and intellectual. I’m not certain if more men than women authors create these montrosities for the chick flic/lesbian market, or what.

For a romantic like myself, with a more traditional sensibility, the field is strewn with boulders, weeds, and parched earth. Truly, we are one-man armies camped under heaven, as Ms. Dillard might describe us. The muse you might reach for may act very un-muselike, be way ahead of you in the lit rat race, and be only faintly interested in your memorializing her in story and song. We are so way past that.

The old hunter-lovers still dwell among us. But they seem rather more grotesquely one or the other. Fight clubbers or sleazy celebrity hounds. I miss Norman Mailer. He was no great shakes as a poet. He was a good grappler with existential matters and gave as good as he got vs. feminist armies.

The longer I live, the more I think in terms of karma, luck, fate, things like that. It’s nice to have talent. But talent isn’t determinative of success, at least not in the short run. There are poets who win rich prizes and titles who never write one single line that lingers in the popular imagination. That’s life, or art, I guess.

Gotta go now and polish my karma, figure out how to render myself visible and boost my blog and writings above the buzz of millions of writers, male and female, now populating the Internet.

By Hudson Owen. Posted on The Atlantic Online, in response to an article by Alyss Dixson, guest columnist for Ta-Nehisi Coates, August 27, 2010.