We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Battle of the Sexes

So I know I could have chosen a more original title for this post, but it does tell you exactly what this post is going to be about, so why beat about the bush? Last week on twitter, Jillian tweeted rather irately about one of her lecturers being a chauvenistic pig when it comes to the intellect of the female species. And then to add fuel to the fire of the debate that had started in my head, I read the Women24 news letter, alluding to the comments by an author which can be read here, so I thought I would just vent a few thoughts here...

Let me just start off by saying, when I choose to read a book, who the book is by is of secondary importance - yes I do sometimes look for work by a certain author, but I don't go about saying "Oh no, this was written by a man so I will just cast it aside" this could not be true, because until recently, all my favourite books have been written by men - Atonement, The Catcher in the Rye, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex... and then since last week a female author made an appearance - Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I don't really care about the sex of an author, it has no interest to me, what matters to me is the story. Now on a different but related tangent, I was wondering what the most prevalent sex the authors that I have recently read are. And suprisingly, despite so many of my favourite books being by male authors, this year - so far- all but one of the books that I have completed have been written by women. A coincidence? Absolutely, because I do not discriminate. I do not have a list of female authors that I pick my next read from. But I do think that I should make a concerted effort *emphasis on concerted* to read more works by male authors.

But back to where I started this post, who is the better author? Man or Woman? Does it actually matter? My answer is no, it does not matter - yes it does help us to see where the author was coming from, but it does not make or break the validity of the story that they are telling. So going back to this author - V.S. Naipaul - he claims that he is a better author than any female author and that Jane Austen wrote sentimental rubbish. Well, let me say that before I read this article I had never heard of this man who claims to be the greatest gift to the writing world. And to just prove a point to him, I will never pick up a book by him, I will dissuade others from reading his work, because well he deserves no respect. Seriously, if you want to break someone down then break down someone who is alive and can fight back, but leave Austen alone. Truthfully, I just think that he is insecure and feels that he has to break down great female authors in order to feel more secure. So here I am writing about him, saying that as a female many of my favourite books are written by male authors - though they are not my favourite because they are written by men. They are my favourite because of the story, and the connection I felt with the characters. I did not even come to that conclusion until I really thought about it. But, I mostly read books by women. So to V.S. I would like to say - grow a pair. Be secure enough in your own writing to not feel that you have to break down the most popular writers of all time who just happen to be women.

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