Ms. Aligned I

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The first edition of Ms. Aligned appeared in 2016. Here is a review by Shane Stricker:

A man made from metal grows out of the scrap pile behind a garage; emails sit unanswered in a file labeled “don’t-open,” their subjects mostly visible, their sender oscillating between condescension, anger, and desperation; a grandfather drowns in, “all the memories, the regrets, the longings.” In her editor note at the beginning of this aptly-titled anthology, Pat Matsueda recalls her introduction to an AWP panel from 2014: “Out of what we [women] see and hear—as well as what they [men] share with us in intimate moments—we compose explanations of their behavior or character. In fact, we spend so much time and energy—and many words—recording what the males in our lives do, analyzing it, and reflecting on it that we may think our conception is the one, true representation of the relationship. Usually, something happens to prove us wrong. By accident or design, we discover something about our mates, fathers, friends, and suddenly what we thought we knew is thrown into question. To stabilize, we often write—sometimes as observers or witnesses; other times as translators or interpreters.” Matsueda goes on to say, “When we write about men—and when men try to tell the stories of women—these are important events. We are called to witness: we attest to the veracity of the stories, the truthfulness of the characterizations, the significance of the meanings.” Throughout the body of this work, the reader is called by this “veracity of the stories” to explore the ways in which males are viewed by their female counterpoints, but even my simplistic explanation of the whole slips away before the reader gets too far into the depths of character and line contained here. The artifice falls away and we are left only with writers writing about character. But there is an important message being composed here. We get used to—I get used to—seeing men form women on the page. I’ve done it. I assume I do it with empathy and understanding, but isn’t that the issue with most of the history of literature: men have been allowed to form and identify what is womanhood/what is feminine/what is the essence of being for those of the opposite sex? For too long, the male witness has gazed on the female form and explained it. Here, we find female writers identifying what is malehood/what is masculine/what is the essence of being for those of the opposite sex. They gaze on the male form and explain it. We need more of this balancing in literature after the proportions being off kilter for way too long.

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