Feed on

In Hilton Als’ collection White Girls, he writes several different essays that all touch on similar topics of race, gender, sexuality, family, and identity. What makes his essays so challenging, beyond the difficult topics, is the unconventional style of writing Als uses, which is similar to stream-of-conciousness. Within this collection is the second essay “The Women.” In this essay, he argues that there is a distinction between “manly” writing and “feminine” writing. Als uses cultural criticism of many different forms of art (i.e literature, film, music, etc.) — and, in this essay, the work and life of Truman Capote — to advance his argument about gendered styles of writing. Als writes, “Capote became a woman in 1947 just when ‘real’ women would not or could not”; he expresses his concern that, as a white male, Capote is at an advantage over these white women. Hilton Als addresses not only gendered writing but also the gendered struggle for prominence in the publishing field.

This essay displays differences from the first one in many ways, but pursues the same subjects. In “The Women,” Hilton Als’ voice is similar to that in the first essay, but there are some differences between the two. In the first essay, his voice is very much stream-of-consciousness, even with emphasis on creating new words in the essay. In “The Women,” he continues this stream-of-consciousness, but the voice is directed toward cultural commentary, which drives the essay forward. In the first essay, Als employs cultural commentary, but it is not the center of the story-line as it is in “The Women.”

Leave a Reply