The woman who thinks she can choose femininity, can toy with it like the social drinker toys with wine - well, she's asking for it, asking to be undone, devoured, asking to spend her life perpetrating a new fraud, manufacturing a new fake identity, only this time it's her equality that's fake.
I sometimes feel that the world is a very uncivilised place where it is meant to be at its most civilised. Where it's meant to be intellectual or artistic or compassionate, it isn't, and that makes me very angry.
I think men and women are the same. Even as parents, I think we're the same. We're just conditioned to think that we're different. Having said that, it's true that motherhood is a particularly vulnerable area. It's an open wound, really. A woman is exposed to being turned into a different kind of person by the experience of motherhood.
I was aware, in those early days of motherhood, that my behaviour was strange to the people who knew me well. It was as though I had been brainwashed, taken over by a cult religion. And yet this cult, motherhood, was not a place where I could actually live. Like any cult, it demanded a complete surrender of identity to belong to it.
As it stands, motherhood is a sort of wilderness through which each woman hacks her way, part martyr, part pioneer; a turn of events from which some women derive feelings of heroism, while others experience a sense of exile from the world they knew.
The true self seeks release, not constraint. It doesn't want to be corseted in a sonnet or made to learn a system of musical notations. It wants liberation, which is why very often it fastens on the novel, for the novel seems spacious, undefined, free.
The 'good' mother, with her fixed smile, her rigidity, her goody-goody outlook, her obsession with unnecessary hygiene, is in fact a fool. It is the 'bad' mother, unafraid of a joke and a glass of wine, richly self-expressive, scornful of suburban values, who is, in reality, good.
I don't go to church any more, but I think that Catholicism is rather like the brand they use on cattle: I feel so formed in that Catholic mould that I don't think I could adopt any other form of spirituality. I still get feelings of consolation about churches.
The distinctive feature of my family was intolerance of sensitivity and emotion - 'Everything's great, it all has to be great all the time and why do you have to spoil it?' Whereas probably the most fundamental and important thing to me has been defending my right to tell the truth about how I feel.
What I increasingly felt, in marriage and in motherhood, was that to live as a woman and to live as a feminist were two different and possibly irreconcilable things.
Some people are better at maths than others: no one thinks you can be 'taught' to be a mathematical genius. And no one thinks of teaching, in that context, as a kind of forcing of the will. But there seems to be an idea of writing as an intuitive pastime which is being dishonestly subjected to counterintuitive methods.
A creative writing workshop will contain students whose ambitions and abilities, whose conceptions of literature itself, are so diverse that what they have in common - the desire to write - could almost be considered meaningless.
An eating disorder epidemic suggests that love and disgust are being jointly marketed, as it were; that wherever the proposition might first have come from, the unacceptability of the female body has been disseminated culturally.
To become a mother is to learn a whole language - to relearn it, perhaps, as it was the tongue to which we were born - and hence gain entrance to a forgotten world of comprehension.
You could time a suburban story by your watch: it lasts as long as it takes a small furry animal that's lonely to find friends, or a small furry animal that's lost to find its parents; it lasts as long as a quick avowal of love; it lasts precisely as long as the average parent is disposed on a Tuesday night to spend reading aloud to children.
Hope is like one of those orchids that grows around toxic waste: lovely in itself - and an assertion, if you like, of indefatigable good - but a sure sign that something nasty lies underneath.
The anorexic is out to prove how little she needs, how little she can survive on; she is out, in a sense, to discredit her nurturers, while at the same time making a public crisis out of her need for nurture. Such vulnerability and such power: it brings the whole female machinery to a halt.
Female hysteria is a subject I'm very fond of. I always try to bring it in somewhere. For me, it is the finest part of the line between comedy and tragedy.
I have a romantic conception of the writer's life, and the sort of writer's life that I admire is probably a childless life, possibly a marriageless life, certainly a travelling life - I'm in awe of how much D.H. Lawrence managed to get around. But that's never been something I'm capable of doing.
Shame is something you'll find a lot of - particularly Catholic - girls feel about their bodies, about their sexuality, about their diet, about anything you like. Shame is the way you keep them down. That's the way to crush a girl.