A few weeks ago, while I was at the library I came across a book. The Night Gwen Stacy Died by Sarah Bruni. The title alone was enough to entice me (Gwen Stacy being Spider-Man’s first girlfriend), and admittedly I only glanced at the back-cover-blurb. Well, I attempted to read the book, getting about 2/3rds of the way in. To be polite I’ll leave my actual opinion of the book out, but I will say it had very little to do with Spider-Man or the Marvel-verse.
The book did spark a question? Do I dislike female authors? Am I gender biased? In the world of gender equality, is their authorship equality?
The first time I realized that I found female authors difficult to read was during a fantasy novel. There were two male protagonists, brothers, who amidst the larger story began to have an incestual relationship. Whoa! Hold your horses! What?! Yes, they began getting it on, and boy did that come from nowhere. I actually looked at the cover, because I hadn’t really thought of the author’s gender, until then. Still stunned, I read her author bio. And I began to think of every book I’ve read that was written by a female. And of those, which ones I liked. The number was somewhere in the range of 3.
So why don’t I like books written by women? Is it because I like manly thinks, like wrestling bears and sipping from flaming bottles of whiskey? Is it because I can’t identify with some of the ideas laid out by women authors?
Well, here’s a short list of things female authors do that put me right off:
- The period. This is totally sexist. I know a period is a common place thing in a woman’s life, and so why wouldn’t it come up. But as a male, it’s probably something I will never comprehend. And when I read it in a book… skip. The gravity of this event in a woman’s life will never translate to the male’s mind. But that only matters if you’re attempting to maintain a male and female readership.
- The Fantasy. When the female protagonist breaks into some internalized thought process of how their perfect life would be, or relationship, or job, etc. I’m pretty sure this does happen in the female mind, but as far as reading it in a book… to a guy it just comes off as daft and fickle, because inevitably the come to learn that they didn’t want what they were wishing for.
- Male characters, and or repeating fallacies. This is perhaps something where male and female authors are on the same ground. It’s the worst thing to read a male character do something that an average male wouldn’t. The third wall comes tumbling down.
- Over focusing on relationships and the ‘what does he/she think of me’ diatribe.
- The obligatory, someone stumbled on my/came by and I’m wearing something ugly, and my hair is a mess, and I don’t have any makeup on.
But these are only a few things.
To place myself in a position of arrogance, I feel if I was given a blind test, I could read the difference between a male and female writer. How about you? I have a feeling that female writers and readers have a similar opinion about male authors. I’d love to hear your thoughts, in a comment or a post (really, I’m interested). Do male authors do a terrible job of writing women? Do men have men do the same things? Maybe it’s only men who struggle with books written by women?
And men, am I being stupid or do you agree?