Jeebus, now we’re sexists for not reading the feminist harpies?

Director and screenwriter John Waters once said: “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!” Wise words, but I’d add: Especially if they don’t have books by women.

When you live in a world with outrageous, explicit misogyny – domestic violence, sexual assault and attacks on reproductive rights, to name a few – it’s easy to breeze by the small stuff. After all, there are issues more pressing than whether or not the culture someone consumes is too homogenous.

But passive bias is still bias – and it has ripple effects into the broader culture. Is it really so much to ask that we pay attention to what shapes our tastes?

For example, I was riding the subway recently when I noticed my seatmate scrolling through a Twitter feed that looked remarkably like mine. I was tickled to be sitting next to a like-minded person, but as I looked on I noticed there was one thing that seemed to be missing from his newsfeed: women. He was following fantastic and smart men, but still – as far as I could tell, all men.

I got the same uneasy feeling when I listened to a podcast interview with a TV showrunner and writer that I admire. He spoke eloquently about his passions and mentors – and the people whose work he liked most. All men.

I’m sure both of these people are smart, engaged and not deliberately or actively sexist – but when your worldview is solely shaped by men, you are missing out. And like it or not, your taste in music, books, television or art says something about you: it sends a message about what you think is worth your time, what you think is interesting and who you think is smart. So if the only culture you pay attention to is created by men, or created by white people, you are making an explicit statement about who and what is important.

Look, what the dozy birds want to whine about as they hand knit their tampons is up to them. But it’s a bit much to expect us all to take any notice, to actually read this tripe, isn’t it?

Or is it that Valenti has a book coming up and wants to guilt us all into reading it?

62 comments on “Jeebus, now we’re sexists for not reading the feminist harpies?

  1. Well I know the big man sitting next to me on this train I’m on to London right now definitely isn’t a woman. And I think he would regard himself as the man sitting in the seat next to me rather than my ‘seatmate’. I also think that if I became too aware of his twitter feed I might become all too aware of the difference.

    Seatmate; FFS.

  2. Presumably that’s why:

    Margaret Mitchell
    Harper Lee
    Sue Townsend
    J.K. Rowling
    Ursula Le Guin
    Richmal Crompton
    Enid Blyton
    The Bronte Sisters
    Jane Austen
    Emily Dickinson*

    have been utterly ignored both critically and commercially in the literary world.

    (*list compiled in 10 seconds off the top of my head)

  3. I find I can relate better to the characters in books written by men. It takes a very good women to write well about men and vice-versa.

  4. I’ve stopped reading biography and history written by women. Usually too much lazy speculation. X must have felt… etc.

  5. I suspect her real problem wasn’t with who the guy was following, but that he wasn’t following Jessica Valenti.

  6. Enid Blyton? She’s the literary world’s Thatcher: yes she’s a woman, but by God the left hate her.

  7. On one level, shrug, I’m not interested in hearing the views of anyone who confesses to the utter weirdness of trying to crane their necks to check and approve/disapprove what other people are reading on train.

    On another level this is fabulous stuff – yet more evidence that the polytechnic left is eating itself.

    Of the (say) 50,000 people who read that shite, if only one per cent take it seriously and start trying to lay down the law to complete strangers as to what they should and shouldn’t read, of going back to blokes’ houses and then leaving because of insufficient Bronteness, that’s fucking brilliant.

    If the ‘right’ had wanted to create a series of fifth columnists to turn floating voters, low info types and apoliticals into raging Tories they couldn’t have done it better.

    My father used to wax lyrical about Thatcher; Cameron isn’t anything like, but this is a better time to be interested in politics because I think we’re seeing the end days for these jackasses.

    Rope! We need more rope!

  8. I remember there were some profound female influences in my formative years… Sally James from Tiswas was one.

  9. For example, I was riding the subway recently when I noticed my seatmate scrolling through a Twitter feed that looked remarkably like mine.

    So she was so obsessed with what some random boy was doing that she spied on his Twittering? Nothing unhealthy about that at all.

    If, of course, it actually happened.

    I’m sure both of these people are smart, engaged and not deliberately or actively sexist – but when your worldview is solely shaped by men, you are missing out.

    No you are not. Not really. We have had 40 years of affirmative action and yet the world is pretty much what it has been for the previous 2000 years – almost everything of interest is written by men. Girls provide a pretty face for some songs written mainly by men. But that is about it.

    Why that should be I don’t know. But it is what it is. We would not miss out on anything if there was a total ban on female writers. Some crap Mean Girls style history/novels.

    It is the same with feminists objecting to films. They came up with the Bechdel test:

    • The movie has to have at least two women in it,
    • who talk to each other,
    • about something besides a man.

    Almost by definition this is a definition of a crap film.

  10. @Frederick,

    Is that because in books by men the female characters enjoy the sex? [/snark]

  11. Isn’t saying I “should” enjoy books I find tedious like saying I “should” find feminists attractive?

    Tim,

    An “attack on reproductive rights” is telling a chavslut she can’t have any more kiddies on the taxpayers’ dime. Also, telling your girlfriend not to get pregnant with your baby. S’nuffin’ to do with you.

  12. What’s she doing looking over someone else’s shoulder anyway, the nosy cow?

    And many of the best conservative voices on Twitter are female.

  13. Smfs: you are dissing Joni Mitchell, one of the greats of the golden era of lyric writing. Also Carly Simon, Carole King, Dolly Parton …….

  14. Janet Daley in the Telegraph is almost always a good read. But then I tend to read writers that reinforce my right of centre world view; rather than left wing harridans and Virago’s.

  15. A culture too homogenous is a Very Bad Thing, unless all of your culture comes from women in which case it’s great!

    I love how Feminism, middle class white western feminism, increasingly obsessed on the pointless trivia of life. They are bimbos with sociology degrees.

    I suppose it helps distract from the real issues facing their sisters in other less oppressed cultures than the West. Africa, for example, or Saudi Arabia. Complain over there about another mans Twitter feed all you want, your husband will still beat you for being a whore for reading another mans Twitter feed (or even accessing something from later than the eighth century).

  16. Ljh – “you are dissing Joni Mitchell, one of the greats of the golden era of lyric writing. Also Carly Simon, Carole King, Dolly Parton …….”

    I noticed. I feel bad for Ms Parton. That was hardly fair. Jolene is a good song. Not complex but good. Carole King did all her good work with her husband(s). How did her solo albums work out?

    I am going through Rolling Stone’s Best 100 songs of all time. A politically correct source. So far we have husband and wife teams – California Dreamin’ for instance. And songs sung by women by written by men – Patsy Cline’s Crazy was written by Willie Nelson for instance. Dionne Warwick’s Walk On By. Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street”? Marvin Gaye, Ivy Hunter and William “Mickey” Stevenson. River Deep – Mountain High? Let’s not even go there. Nor with The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”.

    Not even Aretha Franklin’s Respect was written by her. I know you are saying say it ain’t so! But the Queen herself didn’t write it. Otis Redding did.

    So in the Top 100 there were five songs sung by women. All written by men. There were two sung by couples. One of them gave a partial writing credit to a wife. One song, sung by Elvis Presley, may have been partially written by a woman. Not sure. Not obsessive enough to look it up.

    The problem really is sexism? Really?

  17. Rob – “Complain over there about another mans Twitter feed all you want, your husband will still beat you for being a whore for reading another mans Twitter feed (or even accessing something from later than the eighth century).”

    Western men have become (and I mean this in a totally non-homophobic way) f@ggots. They look to their wives for approval and permission all the time.

    Women don’t like it. Feminism is best understood as a woman acting out hoping to provoke her husband into being a man. When she complains what she wants is to be put in her place. When you appease her, that just makes it worse. Hence the popularity of Mad Men.

    And, of course, the Religion of Peace. Ignoring the reality of Africa and the Muslim world is not a contradiction. It is what she wants. Hence the Guardian’s hard-on for the Islamists. The barbarity is not a bug, it is a feature. Of course she might not enjoy it if she got it. But some times feminists do get it – look at Susan Faludi who did a 180 degree back flip the minute she hooked up with some Rough Trade.

  18. This ‘diversity in reading’ thing has been kicking around in the literary world for the last couple of years, with campaigns etc to get more people reading works by ethnic minority/gay/transgender writers.

    Me? I read what I like. I don’t care what colour, shape or gender the author is. I only carfe if the book is good.

  19. JuliaM – “Me? I read what I like. I don’t care what colour, shape or gender the author is. I only carfe if the book is good.”

    Well that is sexist *and* racist! Ironman would not approve.

    Frankly I am all for them boycotting whatever they like. Reading p!ss poor writers on ideological grounds is its own punishment. But it has an impact because schools usually teach worthless texts for political reasons which seems to turn a lot of people, especially boys, off reading.

  20. Frederick – I find I prefer books written by men too.

    Just a taste thing – when I’m reading for entertainment, I like a story that’s about what the protagonists do.

    Women tend to like telling you how the protagonists feel, and spend lots of time telling you about the relationships between them.

    So George Macdonald Fraser gleefully tells you about what (and who) Flashman does next. Cormac McCarthy writes without mercy or adornment – the inner lives of his characters exist between the lines.

    Jane Austen, the greatest female novelist, writes about fundamentally passive heroines who are obsessed with relationships. It’s brilliantly observed and written, and as feminine as a bunch of freshly picked flowers in a crystal vase sitting on a lace doily.

    It took a woman to write Pride And Prejudice. A man wrote Pride And Prejudice And Zombies.

    As I man I prefer the books with sword fights and post-apocalyptic cannibals in them. Because that’s interesting to me.

    When a novel starts exploring emotions or long passages of dialogue without any action I find my eyes skipping forward

  21. Richmal Crompton … bears comparison with Wodehouse.

    Enid Blyton … I read lots as a child – can’t remember anything about them. Biggles was better. And Sherlock Holmes. And Emile and the Detectives. And Swiss Family Robinson. And Children of the New Forest. And …….

    Jane Austen … Genius.

    And what about the whodunnit merchants? A Christie, N Marsh, D Sayers, etc?

  22. JuliaM – with campaigns etc to get more people reading works by ethnic minority/gay/transgender writers.

    And note – nobody’s exhorting people to read more Jane Austen, JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Enid Blyton, Barbara Cartland, or Stephanie Myer.

    Those are white heterosexual cis-women, you see. And worse – they write to entertain you, not beat you over the head with a rolled-up copy of the Guardian.

    We’re not supposed to just read the works of black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybody novelists. We’re supposed to read books by black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybody novelists that are about being black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybodys in this evil white supremacist capitalist Rapeyarchy we all live in.

    The personal is political, which means everything is political, including zombie fiction and vampire stories and novels about spaceships.

  23. @Andrew M

    Enid Blyton? She’s the literary world’s Thatcher: yes she’s a woman, but by God the left hate her.

    Not to mention Ayn Rand…

  24. Alex B – I loved Enid Blyton when I was a child. I read all of the Secret Seven, the Famous Five, the Five Find-Outers, and anything else I could get my hands on.

    I was enchanted with the idyllic middle class England her stories were set in, where there was secret treasure and mysteries everywhere, and dads were kindly, pipe-smoking figures who dispensed wisdom from their oak-panelled studies.

    I once asked my Dad “how come you don’t have a study. Also, how come you’re drunk?” He told me to feck off.

  25. > We’re not supposed to just read the works of black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybody novelists. We’re supposed to read books by black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybody novelists that are about being black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybodys in this evil white supremacist capitalist Rapeyarchy we all live in.

    You know, even that is fine, if it’s done well. Good writing is good writing. Jeanette Winterson’s first few books are excellent — Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, The Passion, Sexing The Cherry, Boating For Beginners. They’re good because she was a bloody brilliant writer. Brittany Gibbons writes about women’s body-image problems, and she’s brilliant and engaging and hilarious, and I’m really looking forward to her new book, Fat Girl Walking. Antonia Quirke’s Madame Depardieu And The Beautiful Strangers is about having hopeless girly crushes on film stars, and is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I wish she’d write some more.

    The problem, as we were discussing the other day, is the Left’s obsession with lauding and publishing writers (and other artists) because of what they have to say, not because of how well they say it. So we’re supposed to read books by black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybody novelists that are about being black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybodys in this evil white supremacist capitalist Rapeyarchy we all live in and are really badly written.

    Never could abide Enid Blyton. Awful, awful tripe. Edith Nesbitt was more my cup of tea.

  26. “When you live in a world with outrageous, explicit misogyny – domestic violence, sexual assault and attacks on reproductive rights,”

    This woman is loopy. She doesn’t know that one can beat one’s wife without hating women?

    She mistakes men ignoring women as misogyny. One can read books by men without assaulting anyone.

    Looks like she is trying to make misogyny the new, all-purpose smear word, like ‘racist.’ It will be a hard sell with men.

  27. SMFS,

    “Carole King did all her good work with her husband(s). How did her solo albums work out?”

    Tapestry: sold 25 million albums. Critically considered a masterpiece. In terms of songwriting, it’s better than any album by the Beatles.

  28. S2 – Yarp. You pays your money and takes your choice.

    I read for pleasure so don’t actually care (or even know – unless xe tells me) if the author is a black gay one-legged trans-Muslim Thai ladybody. As long as it is entertaining, I’ll pay good money for an author’s work.

    I don’t find navel-gazing identity politics or kvetching about inequality entertaining. I run away from that stuff faster than when my wife says “let’s talk about our feelings!”.

    So I’m not best placed to judge if SJW fiction is objectively good or not, but the fact that a dinosaur revenge porn story won a Nebula award last year (and Twitter then erupted in righteous self-congratulation over no white male authors receiving a prize) suggests the quality of the work is irrelevant to them. It’s all Who? Whom?

    They have no faith in the essential decency of the white man’s culture.

  29. the fact that a dinosaur revenge porn story won a Nebula award last year (and Twitter then erupted in righteous self-congratulation over no white male authors receiving a prize)

    Google sad puppies

  30. The Stigler,

    … Tapestry: sold 25 million albums. Critically considered a masterpiece. In terms of songwriting, it’s better than any album by the Beatles. …

    Totally agree!

  31. you what?

    I’d have said that if your bookshelves have no female authors (or your twitter feed female tweeps) then there probably is something wrong with you because the chances of a non-sexist person motivated only by quality and interest ending up with an all-male bookshelf is very small. In fact I doubt it happens. I know one or two men who I’d call sexist, but I don’t think that extends to a moratorium on female authors.

    I think i must have missed your meaning. I mean it almost looks like you’re saying that having an all-male line up is reasonable because women are just dozy birds want to whine as they hand knit their tampons

  32. Richmal Crompton … bears comparison with Wodehouse.

    Indeed. You don’t hear much about her these days. Daphne du Maurier is another who appears to have fallen out of fashion, but I love her books.

  33. Ms Valenti’s proposition doesn’t work in reverse, either, which is also an indication that it is barely tenable.

    Take my collection of 16,000 albums: all by women or bands including women. I exclusively collect women’s music (in the more edgy genres: progressive and psychedelic rock, extreme metal and acid-folk – not the fey end of the singer/songwriter spectrum), write about women’s music and am considered an authority on women’s music.

    I’d also describe myself as a supporter of feminism (though not, I suspect, the rather tokenistic form of feminism advocated by Ms Valenti).

    But there her argument ends: I am anything other than a “Guardian”-loving left-winger. In fact, my political hero is Enoch Powell, whose economic vision was astonishingly prescient (as was his visceral hatred of the USA). So if Ms Valenti thinks she can decipher my politics from my record collection, she is very wrong indeed.

  34. I was going to mention Tapestry but was beaten to it….

    …also we’d be ruling out Sandy Denny, which would make me very unhappy.

  35. LE: There are a number of good female writers. There are not many.

    There are no good female writers of science fiction–unless tedious, meandering leftist shite (Le Guin, Tiptree etc) floats your boat–which it probably does.

    In the world of non-fiction there are a few good female writers. Far fewer than the numbers of men.

    A genre of non-fiction women pre-dominate in is self-help and diet books. And most of their output is garbage that repeats and often plagerises the work of other better–mostly male-writers. The very few good books in the field are written by men.

    Writing for children is an area women do rather well–Blyton and Crompton esp. Rowling is the ultimate answer to insomnia.

  36. Ecks

    “There are no good female writers of science fiction”

    Lois McMaster Bujold would like a word with you.

    Makes me think that your views on female authors are more the product of wilful ignorance than a genuine assessment of what they have to offer.

  37. Talking of ethnic minority writing…
    Set books in school this year include:
    Moi, Boy – Roald Dahl
    Sa Majesté des Mouches – William Golding
    L’Ile des Trésors – R L Stevenson

  38. SQ2–Far more good male writers than good women writers.

    LE: No surprise there.

    Lois McMaster Bujold –she does try -but she is a windbag. Short descriptive passages interrupted by endless chattering dialogue.
    For example:

    “Andy stuck out his tongue, extruding the blob of creamed rice Claire had just spooned into his mouth. “Beh,” he remarked.”

    Beh indeed. Tully Zetford did a far better job and that was hackwork.

    .

  39. Plenty of other sgood female SF writers- Andre Norton, Sherri S Tepper for example.
    One of my favourite modern novelists, Sarah Waters, is both a woman and a lesbinum.
    All this is beside the point though. Valenti is a worthless fucking imbecile and no one ought to waste a second of his or her life pondering this oxygen thief’s idiocy.

  40. Does anyone have any experience reading Sarah Hoyt, published by Baen?

    I’m not a SF reader, so I’ve not come across her writing, and have no idea whether she’s any good. But I am familiar with her as a blogger. She is most definitely not a leftie. In fact, she’s pretty hard-core libertarian/classical liberal.

  41. Mr Ecks – “There are no good female writers of science fiction–unless tedious, meandering leftist shite (Le Guin, Tiptree etc) floats your boat–which it probably does.”

    Well someone else has mentioned Bujold which was what I was going to do. And she varies. When she is good, she is pretty good. When she is bad she is unreadable. Le Guin used to write some pretty taught, sensible books. The Wizard of Earthsea. Part 1. Maybe Part 3. Nothing else. The rest varies from bad to worse.

    C. J. Cherryh can also write some good stuff.

    But Tiptree? Does it follow from a sample of two that female science fiction writers are all murderers or child abusers (as in Marion Zimmer Bradley)? Probably not.

    Philip Scott Thomas – “Does anyone have any experience reading Sarah Hoyt, published by Baen?”

    I like her blogging so I tried a novel. Didn’t like it. Not tried another.

  42. Luis Enrique – “I’d have said that if your bookshelves have no female authors (or your twitter feed female tweeps) then there probably is something wrong with you because the chances of a non-sexist person motivated only by quality and interest ending up with an all-male bookshelf is very small.”

    I don’t know. I think a lot of people – through a process of keeping what they need professionally and what they like personally – would not have many female authors on their shelves. That is the nature of writing which tends to be male. That is not sexism. That is just a response to the fact that not many women write at all and fewer write well.

    A quick check of my book shelves shows five female authors. Mostly books other people have left that I have not given away. Including the Dispossessed. So I can’t be a sexist.

  43. The Stigler – “Tapestry: sold 25 million albums. Critically considered a masterpiece. In terms of songwriting, it’s better than any album by the Beatles.”

    I reject the concept of a critical consideration because these days that just means they threw her in because they needed to make up their left handed disabled Welsh lesbian quota or whatever.

    But again, she wrote that with her then ex-husband Gerry Goffin. He is not credited on all her songs, but he is credited on three and it is like that his influence is greater – including Natural Woman and Will You Love Me Tomorrow. She wrote some more of them with Toni Stern. Who is probably not a man with a name like that but you never know.

    The first album I can find that she did without Goffin was Fantasy. How did that work out? For the next album, David Palmer wrote all the lyrics.

  44. “I reject the concept of a critical consideration….”

    But you used the Rolling Stone Top 100 as a source?

    “…. they threw her in because they needed to make up their left handed disabled Welsh lesbian quota or whatever.”

    And they didn’t just throw her in. It’s a wonderful album.

  45. GlenDorran – “But you used the Rolling Stone Top 100 as a source?”

    Top of the Pops would have taken too long. You have a very odd definition of critical if you think Rolling Stone counts. Admittedly they have come under more pressure to include more women recently. I also did not credit it as a source – it is just convenient.

    “And they didn’t just throw her in. It’s a wonderful album.”

    And like most of her good albums, largely co-written by her husband.

  46. SMFS,

    “I reject the concept of a critical consideration because these days that just means they threw her in because they needed to make up their left handed disabled Welsh lesbian quota or whatever.”

    Tapestry contains at least 4 songs that pretty much anyone in the western world knows, songs that have been covered hundreds of times and used in god knows how many adverts.

    “But again, she wrote that with her then ex-husband Gerry Goffin. He is not credited on all her songs, but he is credited on three and it is like that his influence is greater”

    So, it’s not just an album that’s only got critical credit to meet diversity quotas, it wasn’t even actually written by said diversity quota recipient? Get your story straight.

  47. The Stigler – “So, it’s not just an album that’s only got critical credit to meet diversity quotas, it wasn’t even actually written by said diversity quota recipient? Get your story straight.”

    I did not say it got critical notice to meet diversity quotas. I said I reject the concept of critical approval because it has become corrupted to meet diversity quotas. I expressed no views on this particular album with respect to diversity quotas at all.

    You going to get all upset? Fine. Do it for something I actually said. God knows you have enough material to work with.

  48. SMFS,

    “Do it for something I actually said.”

    OK:-

    ““I reject the concept of a critical consideration because these days that just means they threw her in because they needed to make up their left handed disabled Welsh lesbian quota or whatever.””

    Show me where in that statement you qualify your argument, such that you allow any possibility that anything produced by a woman is in there for any reason other than to make up a quota.

  49. SMFS:

    No need to be so touchy, just pointing out a minor thing (your use of that Top 100 list) that amused me.

    Thing is, are you denying that Carole King is a great songwriter because she worked with a songwriting partner? After all, you cited a song written by the partnership of Bacharach and David…

    “And like most of her good albums, largely co-written by her husband.”

    Three songs out of the album doesn’t mean “largely”.

  50. The Stigler – “Show me where in that statement you qualify your argument, such that you allow any possibility that anything produced by a woman is in there for any reason other than to make up a quota.”

    I don’t say that I like deep fried chicken either. If I wanted to say I liked deep fried chicken, I would have said I like deep fried chicken. When I start a sentence with “I reject the concept of a critical consideration”, that means I am talking about critical consideration. Not deep fried chicken. Not the collected works of Carole King either. Nor any other woman. I do not need to justify claims I do not make. Nor do I need to spend time on people who waste my time by accusing me of saying things I did not and then changing the subject.

    It is perfectly possible to consider the work of some women valuable apart and beyond what the critics think. Although it is not as if I have not made my views clear.

  51. GlenDorran – “Thing is, are you denying that Carole King is a great songwriter because she worked with a songwriting partner? After all, you cited a song written by the partnership of Bacharach and David…”

    I don’t think that you can say much about King as an individual. But when virtually no songs are written by women at all, and most of those are written by women working with men, a tentative conclusion might be drawn about women as a whole.

    It is not as if the barriers to women writing songs is high. It is perfectly possible to make a career of it without too much difficulty. If you have the talent. Perhaps there is some vast Right Wing Male conspiracy aimed at keeping women out of the song writing business – although they did a poor job of keeping Jews and Blacks out. But we have no actual evidence for it. On the contrary, it looks like women have been warmly encouraged to do so for nigh on two generations.

    So Occam’s Razor demands some other explanation. The obvious one is that displays are common mating behaviours. Men produce works of art because it gets them laid. It does not help women. Therefore men produce a lot more.

  52. Bloke in Wales – I heard the lament of the sad puppies, and decided it was time to act against puppy-related sadness. For only $40 I get to vote in the forthcoming Hugo awards. And unlike in the General Election, my vote has a good chance of being more than just a protest.

    Muahahahaha!

    Luis Enrique – I have read women sci fi authors such as Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Connie Willis, Pat Cadigan, and (of course) Mary Shelley.

    None of them are my cup of space tea, Earl Grey, hot.

    The only lady science fictioneers I’ve really, really liked are Ann Christy (she’s not a big name author – yet – but she wrote some brilliant stories set in Hugh Howey’s Wool universe) and Ayn Rand.

    If I could write like either of those women I would be insanely happy. But generally speaking, the sort of stories I like tend to be written by men.

    If you look on Kindle, there’s now an amazing selection of female-oriented fiction in the sci fi and fantasy section – much of it about sexy vampires and/or hunky werewolves with glistening muscular chests adorning the cover, all sexy like. They are usually tagged “BBW Paranormal Romance” and the descriptions tend to go something like:

    Julie is a curvy girl whose love is torn between beefcake fireman/werewolf Brett and the mysterious – yet sexy – billionaire/vampire Prince Sexio. When the two find out about each other they fight for Julie’s love and the right to buy her cakes and handbags.

    I don’t suppose the girls who buy those sort of books would be much keen on my library of highbrow novels about men fighting space lizards.

    Diff’rent Strokes.

  53. “Rowling is the ultimate answer to insomnia.” – hmm, i was determined not to like Harry Potter, him, his school, the book, the author and the whole show … but then I had to read them with my 8 yo, and in fact they’re great stuff, though it chokes me to say so.

  54. They also taught a whole generation how to pronounce “Hermione”. So useful in Islington.

  55. Eynd Blyton while very successful wasn’t much of a writer IMHO – if you attempt to read her work as an adult, you find that the characters are wooden, overdrawn and get no development, while the plotlines are less than thrilling (and mostly recycled from one book to the next). Kids love them however (as a kid, between my sister and myself, we collected pretty much every single book she wrote)

    Richmore Crompton on the other hand was more of a literary genius – the characters are cleverly drawn, the plots often have neat twists, and the humour is at a level which children can understand, but which as an adult, one still finds funny.

  56. SMFS:

    Thing is, I agree with you that there are very very few great female songwriters (or writers).

    As is normally the case, a combination of my crap writing and the disconnect of the internet means that something we could have got over in 20 seconds in the pub becomes a stream of exchanges.

    But Carole King is definitely a great songwriter by any measure 🙂

  57. There is a massive amount of writing out there that we don’t read. For Valenti’s point to work, she would need to include the writers of the films and TV we watch. At which point I’m pretty sure that, even by her own reasoning, her point would collapse.

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