Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Eve vs. Adam: The Never-Ending Bullshit-o-rama

All right, Sandra, you asked for it. Sandra's post today is on the issue of male writers vs. female writers. What are the differences? Does one gender handle certain scenarios, topics, character- izations better than the other? Is it something writers should be aware of as they work? Here was my knee jerk response:

"I get kinda tired of the whole gender debate. Yes, men and women have different perspectives. Yes, it is partly a matter of bio-chemicals and yes, it is partly socialization. So what? Does it really matter in terms of creative process and output? I'm not dismissing the gender divide in term of business/sales/etc., but I really don't give a flying fuck about whether (in general) a man writes better action scenes or if (in general) a woman has a broader range. There are always exceptions to the perceived rules, and it just seems silly to get tied up in knots over who is better, or not, and why. Of all the things rushing through my head and my life, this one is pretty damn low on the totem pole. Whew! An unexpected mini-rant!"

And you know what? It is pretty damn ludicrous, and I am sick of it. What matters to me are the words on the page. Am I able to cruise down the highway of the story without hitting tons of speedbumps in the form of poor grammar, awkward phrases, cliches, and unbelievable characters or situations? Yes? Then it matters fuck-all to me if the words on the page were written by a man or a woman.

Here's the plain, uncomplicated truth: men and women are different. And that's okay. Wanna hear something else that's interesting? The hormones that affect the development of the human brain occur in differing amounts on an individual basis. So yes, it's entirely possible for one woman to have a brain that is more masculine in its construct than another woman. It works that way for men, too. So making facile generalizations based on what kind of hardware someone's sportin' isn't quite so damn simple, is it?

What really pisses me off is when men and/or women adhere so strongly to an ideology that the science goes out the window. I actually heard an intelligent, college educated, master's degree carrying woman tell her daughter that it was bullshit that male and female brains work differently. This conversation came about because the daughter was talking about what she learned in her biology class. My question is this - since when did "functions differently" become synonymous with "inferior functioning?" Good grief, people. Get a freakin' grip.

When you get into the business side of things, the issue gets trickier. Here the hardware you're sportin' often does make a difference. Sorry, but it's true. And (not that anyone cares but me) here's my take on it...Deal with it, get over it, find a way to work through it, 'cause screaming "no fair" isn't going to change a thing. Does this mean I think inequality shouldn't be pointed out as the bullshit it is? Uh, no. Does this mean I think women should shut up and take it? Again, no. What I'm saying is that pissing and moaning alone isn't going to accomplish jackshit, and I'd honestly rather use my time working on my writing. Bitching without having the action to follow it up is a waste of my time and energy. No thanks.


Rant over.


At 11:57 AM, Blogger M.E Ellis said...

I write from the male POV 80% of the time. I think the idea of being expected to write fluffy women's stuff got up my nose years ago when I started writing so I flipped it round, found my niche, and am sticking to it.

I'm more like a bloke anyway. I fart and pick my nose, and have been been known to scratch me bits on occasion.


Yes, sorry.


At 12:19 PM, Blogger Dana Y. T. Lin said...

It doesn't matter to me who wrote the thing as long as it's entertaining me.

Hey, I can burp, fart, and dig my nose with the best of them, but somehow I've found I got a good female YA voice. Go figure.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Christian said...

Yowza! Provocative rant, uh, post. I've heard a lot of generalizations about the differing qualities of male vs. female authors but they're just that- generalizations.

However, I have noticed one arena where there is a noticable difference. I can usually tell if erotica has been written by a man or a woman. Not always, but maybe 80% of the time. (Not that I read enough erotica for that to be a scientific assessment. Not nearly enough. Really. I swear.) Sex may be one area where the sex of the author makes a difference.

I won't go into specifics here (I'm sure you're relieved,) but generally speaking, I prefer female-penned erotica over male.

By the way, since the other comments seem to constitute a survey, I do burp and pick my nose but I don't fart. Never once in my entire life.

Does that make me less of a man?

At 2:18 PM, Blogger angie said...

Ah, flatulence & boogers, the great and always entertaining equalizers of humanity!

At 2:19 PM, Blogger angie said...

And yes, Christian, a man without farts...dies very painfully from gastro-intestinal distress!

At 2:33 PM, Blogger anne frasier said...

i think the issue isn't an issue until it's made an issue and becomes an issue.

just wanted to add my 2 cents.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

since when did "functions differently" become synonymous with "inferior functioning?"

You're right. And (I hope I didn't fail in qualifying this) that's why I'd say men, on average, do it better for me. They do a lot of things better for me. :)

But I'm glad I finally figured out why I had more books by men on my bookshelves. It has nothing to do with the quality of writing - it simply comes down to my area of interest being more in sinc with the zone guys tend to write in. And when women write in that part of the spectrum, I'm reading and loving them too.

Now, I don't feel like it is guys vs girls or that I have to explain myself after being accused of being sexist.

Though I am still surprised by the assertion I write male. Do I? I don't know.

Would I have sold my book faster if I didn't have breasts?

Possibly. Ask me a few years from now how much it impacts the business side of things, but I venture to say in some cases, it doesn't at all.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger angie said...

Anne, your two cents is always welcome - and I think that's part of why I get so irritated when the topic comes back from the dead again - jeez, it's like the Elvis of bullshit cliches!

Sandra, I hope you know I don't think of you as sexist. You like gritty dark thrilla killa books & there are more men writing in that genre at the moment. I'm not sure what "writing like a man" means, though. I do understand what writing in a genre tradition means, and that's a more logical conclusion to me than the whole male vs. female writer thing.

Now excuse me. I gotta go pick some boogers...

At 7:30 PM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

This blog entry made my brain hurt. I don't want to think about this stuff. I want to write.

However, I do think guys have a weird view of eyeliner.


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