What a Little-Known Ursula K. Le Guin Essay Taught Me About Being a Woman
It was a volume of the short-lived literary book series Left Bank that I ultimately picked up — Vol. 2, circa 1992, featuring Le Guin’s essay “Introducing Myself.” “I am a man,” she begins, and goes on to spin a sardonic fable rich with wordplay, arguing, with dripping sarcasm, that “man” is what she must be — since to be a person, one must, it seems, be a man.
All of this struck my 16-year-old self on two equally resonant wavelengths: First, there was an intake of breath at the thought that this was what writing could be: this sort of knowing, joking wit that was also deeply confessional and intimate. And second, a deeper realization that this is what being a woman could be: someone at once wise and self-questioning, seeking understanding and answers, unfeminine but not masculine, unflinchingly intellectual.