Why Men With Pens is Written by a Woman. And Why That Matters.

Honestly, except for the name itself, I’ve never cared or wondered whether the author of Men With Pens was man or woman. It’s a good blog for writers. I did assume man, of course, because of the name of the blog, and the byline. This isn’t something I think about.

But I was shocked to read Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants as a post in CopyBlogger yesterday. It turns out that James Chartrand, author of the Men With Pens blog, @menwithpens on Twitter, is a woman, not a man.

Why do I care? I don’t care that she’s a woman and not a man. It makes no difference to the value of the content.  But I do care about the story she (James Chartrand) tells, and why she uses a man’s name.

Taking a man’s name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service.

No hassles. Higher acceptance. And gratifying respect for my talents and round-the-clock work ethic.

Business opportunities fell into my lap. People asked for my advice, and they thanked me for it, too.

Did I quit promoting my own name? Hell yeah.

I do believe that the difference between genders is the most interesting thing in creation. But I don’t believe in gender differences in jobs or opportunity and particularly not in writing. My favorite bloggers are about half and half, men and women. I just want the posts to be useful, interesting, amusing, and good. I’m as likely to read Pamela Slim or Anita Campbell as I am to read Seth Godin or John Jantsch. I like to think the world has come a long way since I was born in 1948. That the chauvinism we took for granted without even thinking about it in the 1950s and 1960s has given way to a better, more equal world.

Maybe so; but “more equal” isn’t the same as “equal.” Damn. Ask James Chartrand about that.

Everybody should read Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants. And everybody who cares about writing and blogging should subscribe to her blog – not because of her gender, or her surprising revelation about gender disguised, but, rather, because it’s got a lot of good content.


  • Carol says:

    I really appreciate you writing about this. Many thanks.
    With regard to sexism–yes, it is still very real in many quarters, and I am not going to expend the energy on any personal sad stories because they are painful and I want to enjoy my morning… Here’s a little exercise for you: when you see an assembled board of a corporation, a photo of assembled leaders-count the females.
    You must not let the disappointment you have with the truth get in the way of your acceptance of that truth. This very smart female writer told you that she took on a male name to gain success. I think it wisest to not question her. I take it as truth. I know that I have to be smarter than men. If I can’t be smarter, then I have to be more cunning. Somehow, if I am going to play in their games and I am going to win, I had better adopt strategy and drop drama. For now it is the way it is. If things get better, that’s good. I will win more. But I am not going to wait around for that brighter day.

    • Tim Berry says:

      Thanks Carol, and don’t worry, I’m not questioning the underlying truth. That’s why I’m disappointed. My wife and I have four grown-up smart competent well-educated hard-working daughters, so I don’t have the luxury of pretending that this isn’t still true. One of our daughters was featured in this USA Today story, and, as if any of us needed reminding that it’s still true, just read the comments below that piece. Many are shocking and frightening.

      Still, I like to hope. I have seen a lot of change for the better on sexism in my lifetime. We were almost all sexists when I was in college, and my sense of the proportion of people who have seen the light is encouraging for the future. The world our youngest daughter deals with — she’s 22 — seems less sexist than the world are older daughters (36 and 37) started their careers in. Fingers crossed.

  • Tim Berry says:

    Thanks Kelly, I really appreciate that response.

  • Kelly says:


    You’re one of the few who’s recognized what’s being obscured in all this flap: James writes stuff that’s worth its weight in gold. She gives tremendous value to bloggers, freelancers, small business owners, and of course, to Men With Pens’ clients. Funny thing is, even under attack as she recently was when she had to decide to go through this, she’s still giving value. What a lot of discussion of “inequalities we wish were gone” she’s kicked up!

    You are always a breath of fresh air, and today I know someone who could use one. I’m going to email her this link. Thanks for these simple insights.



  • Tyler says:

    Thanks for turning me onto James Chartrand’s post. The title alone makes it worth reading. Sexism in the workplace, like racism, is one of those nebulous things that everyone knows exists, but no one knows how to quantify, much less correct. Everyone knows that the problem is less severe than it was before, but it is the last mile that is the hardest to finish. Here’s hoping for a better future.

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