Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gender wars

I keep wondering why women aren't allowed to write, or read, what they want to.

First of all Muriel Gray, in her role as chair of the Orange Prize judges, criticized women for not writing a wide enough range of fiction and for concentrating on domestic themes.

Then Ian Rankin noted last year that women, especially lesbian women, wrote more graphically violent crime fiction than men. The reponse from Val McDermid at Edinburgh this month led to this uncharacteristically lurid headline in The Times this week.

I have always enjoyed crime fiction and apparently women are the largest group reading this genre. Women get criticized for reading and writing chick lit, but whilst I would defend anyone's right to do so, there are also many of us writing and reading more broadly. Science fiction, fantasy, crime all have many women authors and fans. In any case 'women's fiction' covers a much wider range than just chick lit. Romance, sagas, historical, family stories, gritty contemporary themes...they are all there too.

You can't have it both ways. Why shouldn't women write violent crime? After all some men write romances and sagas, they just tend to do so under a female pseudonym. And since when has a sexuality of a crime writer, whether male or female, had anything to do with anything?

Three notable things:

1. The X-Factor is back!

2. Hubby and son 1 started to tidy out the garage ready to house the crosstrainer I have just ordered.

3. They found a box of to-be-read books I had forgotten about!


Anonymous said...

I bought a cross trainer a while ago and it's really difficult to use! For me anyway!

Women rule!

Crystal xx

Graeme K Talboys said...

This one of my hobby horses as well. Gender or sexual orientation of a writer has nothing to do with what they write. If they are good writers, they can transcend that and explore all sorts of areas. It's a bit like saying people should only write what they know. For most writers, that means they should only ever write about staring at a computer screen with increasing frustration.

Cathy said...

Crystal...I blame a crosstrainer at a gym for my knackered knees! But son 1's psychologist has sold him on the idea...

Graeme...absolutely, even though I suppose my own writing is largely influenced by what I know. But I suspect that is because I am still a novice.

I'm waiting for Anne's contribution on this one!

Jenny Beattie said...

Hi Cathy

I've just dropped by because I noticed your name and website was missing from my novel racer list on my blog. So I apologise, and wanted to say that I've added it in.


Cathy said...

Thanks, JJ!