Kate Gale in Los Angeles Magazine and LA Observed
Two Questions For Kate Gale
We ask the managing editor of Red Hen Press about the publishing house’s new Pasadena offices and the city’s literary culture
By Kristen Yinger
You just moved offices in Pasadena. What does that mean for Red Hen Press?
We grew out of our old space, which is being developed into condos. Now we have a much larger space in Pasadena. It’s been an exciting new thing, since we just moved in a month ago. We have an entire top floor of a bank building, over 3,000 square feet.
Before we moved to Pasadena from the Valley in2009, there was a lot of discussion about where we should go. We really wanted to move to a place that celebrates arts and culture. I met with the mayor of Pasadena and he wanted us there. We have donors there, a reading series at Boston Court Theater. Pasadena is a city where arts and culture matter. I wanted Red Hen to be part of that. I felt our press would thrive in a place where ideas swarm and creative work is part of the landscape.
You were born in Binghamton, N.Y. What originally brought you to L.A?
I came out to get my PhD at Claremont in 1987. I decided I wanted to make my life here. L.A. always seemed to me like a film city. There was no reason that L.A. couldn’t be the next Paris, the next literary city.
And I wanted to do it. It was audacious. We wanted first to publish books, then to build community and support literacy—hence the reading series, the Review, the writing in the schools program and the awards. It mostly used to be readings at bookstores, but as the bookstore culture started to go out, we began looking at other venues.
We are building the literary culture of L.A. It’s easy to feel [literature] is overshadowed by music, movies, and fashion. People told me I would never make a splash, that’s there’s too much noise, too many people. But my kids always say to me, ‘Wherever you are someone is getting wet!’
I think about this and remember people asking me when I wanted to start Red Hen if it was really something a woman should be doing. Oh for the good old days when women stayed home and washed the dishes.
Wasn’t it easier when women were dimwits? When you could shush them when you wanted to?
Back in the good old days when you wanted to get a man to go out with you, you pretended—like Laura in Glass Menagerie, you pretended to be stupid. You batted your eyes, you smiled. That was the big key. Smiling at men. They like it when you smile at them. It means you’re friendly. And when you listen to them talk at you. They talk and talk. They impress you with their stories. And you get big eyed. You are amazed. (even if you are not amazed, look surprised, it’s the only way you will attract a mate.) Otherwise you will be alone. That’s the story.
Most men you meet who were born before 1960 are going to be of the opinion that they are smarter than women. That generation believed women had entertainment value. You spend time with them on Friday or Saturday night. You take them dancing. You buy them a special dress. You tell them they look pretty in the dress. You buy them jewelry. If you are educated, you take them to the opera, the theatre, to art museums, to concerts. If you are a working class person, you take your woman to dinner, to the movies, maybe to a club. You entertain your woman in exchange for sex and a quiet person who will be fun to talk to.
I know some of you are thinking, how did I miss out on those quiet well behaved women? Sorry, you are doomed to the women of the new millennium.
Here is what we do, we women of today. We make our own money. We save our own money. We engage in our own creative and intellectual work. We expect equal respect as men. We expect to be heard. We are goddesses in our own right. Don’t tell us to be quiet. We will not hear you. Don’t think for a moment, that you know more than we do.
The man who we love is our equal.