Equal Pay Day Poetry Challenge: What Negotiation Means to the Artist, Part Deux

Published on by Victoria Pynchon.

When asked what they would identify as the “fruitiest” fruit (and there have been many, many studies on this) the vast majority of Americans say: an apple. A waxy, red Gala apple. Not bright, juicy strawberries. Not silky, juicy mango. Not cold, juicy plums in an icebox (Any William Carlos Williams fans out there?). Not juicy anything. Apples. Soft, mealy apples.

Scientists say this is an example of the human brain’s tendency to latch onto “prototypes” and create categories that radiate from them. These prototypes aren’t chosen based on any set list of criteria, they’re deeply entrenched, socially-agreed upon points of reference we use to evaluate the unfamiliar.

This is great for determining which produce you’d like to feature in your still-life. It’s not so great if you’re trying to convince people that there’s more to art than paintings of fruit.

I’m an actor, or I’m attempting to be, and so much of my frustration throughout the years has come from my inability to fit the prototype. I delete hundreds of emails daily from casting breakdowns asking for tall, thin, model types to dance and traipse around in bikinis. I have the build of a Shetland Pony and I don’t traipse so much as tromp, but I’m funny and I’m smart and my Mom and Dad gave me beautiful eyes, and that should make me just as valuable a hire as any bikini-clad model.

I’m in the process of letting go of a lot of silly, heavy baggage; I always felt at the whim of casting directors who didn’t know what to do with my big brain and big boobs.Nobody knew what kind of fruit I was, including me, so I stayed at the bottom of the bowl, too ashamed and afraid to speak up for myself.

Last year, after yet another disappointing casting outcome I went home one day and began to write. By the evening I had a one act play with a part just for me, a part unlike any I had ever played and a part no one would ever pick me for. I’m adapting it for screen now, and by hook or by crook I intend to make it happen. I can’t count on the people in control to expend the energy to look through the bowl, I have to realize they don’t really know any better than me and push my way to the front and shout “Here I am! I’m goddamn delicious and you’ve never had anything like me before!”

If you’re reading She Negotiates, you either suspect or you know that you’re not getting what you’re worth.

But before you can demand what you’re worth, you have to know what you’re worth. You have to sit down with yourself and ask yourself why you would pick you over any crummy old apple. And it’s precisely because you’re not the prototype – you’re a kiwifruit, or a muscat grape, or a coconut or a durian, and the world deserves a taste. Don’t stay at home with a book, it’s not going anywhere. But you are.

It's Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 8 and all month long is National Poetry Month. To celebrate, we invite you to write a line or two of poetry-- a Haiku, free verse, limerick, anything--for our Equal Pay Day Poetry Challenge. You can write something incredibly bad, silly, powerful, short or long. If reciting it to your dog makes her head cock sideways, you're onto something. You could win some very cool and useful prizes.


Negotiation, working women, shenegotiates, #poeticjustice, She Negotiates Equal Pay Day Poetry Challenge, erin manker

Published on by Victoria Pynchon.