Handwriting neatness and clarity was a very big deal in my household. Before I could hold a pencil properly my mother had me drawing circles and lines because she said, “Asi aprendes a escribir las letras bonitas”. Translation: “That’s how you learn to write pretty letters”. While it is still unclear why my mom pushed handwriting so fiercely, it is important to know that it worked. I have very neat handwriting now, and so does my sister, and my brother, but while my sister and I were praised for our penmenship by teachers and classmates, our brother was teased.
What I am wondering and the point of this post is to pose the question, why is penmenship feminized? It’s funny because when it comes to professional calligraphy it’s actually a highly male-dominated industry, but when it comes every day handwriting it suddenly become feminine. The same can be said about academic fields. When more women become literate in a certain academic field all of a sudden becomes less valid. For example, my European history professor had a phD and earned less than her husband who had a masters in computer science and they had the same job. Which I guess is my second question, why are literate women so often invalidated?