1. This is Bruce Holsinger. He’s a novelist and an English professor at the University of Virginia.
Holsinger and some colleagues were recently discussing how often the wives of male academics do significant work for which they are rarely given proper credit.
This reminded Holsinger of all the times he has read male authors thanking their wives for typing up manuscripts in the acknowledgments of their books. Curious to see how widespread the practice was, Holsinger did a quick search on Google Books and found dozens of “eye-opening” examples that he started sharing on Twitter with the hashtag #ThanksForTyping.
2. “The response was immediate and overwhelming,” Holsinger said. “It’s turned into a lively and mind-bending exchange.”
For whatever reason, a lot of male authors over the years have been unwilling or unable to type up their own goddamn work. The acknowledgments of their books show how much extra work their wives did in turn.
“I have to thank my wife for typing the whole of this difficult manuscript in spite of the heavy burden laid on housewives by a six years’ war and its oppressive aftermath,” one example reads.
Holsinger said he drew his examples from all over: academic work, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and many other genres — even self-help books.
3. “I am most grateful to … my wife for typing, retyping and typing yet again the manuscript.”
4. So much typing.
This man’s wife had to type “the whole of this work at least twice.”
5. Seriously, so much typing.
Holsinger told BuzzFeed News that while many of his examples came from older texts, “a shocking proportion” came from books published in the last two decades.
“Ridiculous numbers of men, it seems, still didn’t know how to type throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, or at least performed a kind of deliberate secretarial incompetence when it came to the basic mechanics of writing and transcription,” Holsinger said.
6. This poor wife “typed and re-typed the whole manuscript five times” — and “on a decrepit typewriter” no less.
7. “With two aching fingers my wife typed out the whole manuscript.”
8. “Under considerable pressure.”
“Now, there are some instances in which issues of disability or economic circumstance kept men from typing up their own work, and in those cases I wouldn’t tweet them,” Holsinger said.
9. “But in numerous examples these gently thanked wives even did their husbands’ primary research for them: transcribing early modern paleography and field notes, typing up numerous drafts, rewriting, revising, indexing… the list goes on.”
10. In many cases, these long-suffering wives were not even afforded the courtesy of their own names.
11. “My wife” had to suffice.
12. Not just wives, either. Sometimes anonymous daughters were involved, too.
13. This author quit his job to write his dissertation, while his wife did much of the work, cared for their first child, and taught chemistry!
14. This guy was even living off his in-laws while his wife and other family members did much of the work.
Holsinger said many people have engaged in the hashtag to discuss “the politics of academic labor, the crucial role of women as collaborators and unacknowledged co-authors of academic work.”
15. Holsinger noted that many people have studied and written about this phenomenon already, but the hashtag kicked off a big public conversation.
“People have shared examples in French, Spanish, Portuguese, as well as many stories from their own or their parents’ experiences of unacknowledged or anonymous academic labor,” Holsinger said.
16. Some people even shared their own experiences of how women’s labor often goes unappreciated in academia.
17. And they shared some historical examples.
18. So let’s hear it for the unsung heroes, like the wife who “offered endless advice on a subject for which she had no especial relish.”
19. This wife who typed and retyped the same bloody manuscript “15 or more times.”
20. Or the wife who retyped a thesis because the husband’s “dirty rhymes” had to be cut out.
21. Come on, fellas. Let’s get it together.
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