This just is remarkable, isn’t it?

Cat Person is ‘mundane’, Austen is ‘dross’: why do so many men hate female writing?
Kaite Welsh

By and large, on average you understand, men and women write slightly different stories. And men and women, by and large and on average you understand, read different stories.

Anyone surprised by this is either not human or has never read anything.

51 comments on “This just is remarkable, isn’t it?

  1. Thomas Hardy sucks too. That’s the sum total of wot i lurned in English Lit classes. I bet he was a real pansy.

  2. “an imaginary correspondence on behalf of their cats”

    first thought. . No
    second thought … well could be done well so..
    third thought… this about two people date..flirting. in New York.. No
    Fourth thought: if it stands the test of time (let’s say they’re teaching it in schools in 20 years time) i can always revisit my decision.

  3. I can’t stand Austen either. And the only ‘Cat Person’ I’ve ever heard of is the Paul Schrader movie remake, and I don’t think it was a novel first…

  4. Andrew – same!

    Why men don’t like chicklit:

    The story of Margot and Robert, who meet at the independent cinema where Margot worked and gradually build a connection

    Never read it, and yet I now understand why trapped rats will sometimes chew off their own leg to escape.

    With Giles Coren making a documentary called I Hate Jane Austen, to “save future generations of teenage boys having this dross rolled out in front of them”, we’re reminded again of the distaste for women’s writing and the misogyny underpinning the accusations of triviality that always accompany their work.

    How dare you not like the same things Kaite Welsh likes, bigot! You probably enjoy macho nonsense such as De Niro and Pacino’s stylish crime thriller Heat.

    Roupenian isn’t some Everywoman who put pen to paper after a bad date in an attempt at catharsis: she’s a PhD candidate at Harvard who speaks Swahili, writes about postcolonial and transnational literature and spent two years teaching public health and HIV education at an orphans’ centre in Uganda.

    Damn. You can practically see her cat-eye problem glasses glaring at you through the text.

    Now, personally I don’t care if some fatuously credentialled childless bugwoman writes dreary Mary Sue fic about finding a puffy-faced skinnyfat urban male liberal to share her Zoloft and feline toxoplasmosis with.

    If that amuses her, as she awaits her inevitable lonely death in a flat full of Apple products, ethnic trinkets and timeworn sex toys, then great.

    But what does it all mean? Fucked if I know.

  5. “Boys love Enid Blyton’s books. But I imagine that only enrages the feminists further.”

    Ah, yes, those ‘Famous Five’ books… controversial!
    😉

  6. “Margot and Robert’s bond is constructed primarily over text messages,..”

    Anyone who would attempt to bond through text messaging I’d put right up with serial killers as people I most need to avoid. So, no. Probably wouldn’t have given Cat Person a favourable review, either.

  7. Ref: Blyton- The Valley of Adventure is currently holding both me and my boy rapt at bedtimes.

    As for female authors- what about Agatha Christie?

    Austen is fine- innovative if you look at the devices she bought to fiction (shifting viewpoints being just one), and she’s a solid claim on the invention of the modern novel. But Coren is substantially right: the books are much of a muchness, and a young woman’s quest to find a husband is only ever going to have a majority of men thinking wistfully of Conan Doyle.

  8. It’s not like most male authors don’t write dross either – Dan Brown, for instance.

    It’s just that the truly great authors of the past several hundred years, of which there are very, very few, have tended to be male for …um… fairly obvious reasons.

    And I had to suffer Austen at GCSE – nothing grips a hormonal 16 year old male (who at that time wanted to join the forces) more than… the hyperfine minutiae of the 18th century social-climbing upper middle class courting set.

  9. I mentioned a while back that a mate of mine is being published by Harper Collins (James Deegan ‘Once A Pilgrim’, out Jan 25 at all good bookstores – he’s @jamesdeeganMC on twatter for anyone interested) and I happen to know from chatting to him that most of the pre orders on Good Reads and Net Galley etc are from women. From this and other evidence eg female friends who’ve read it and enjoyed it and other Jack Reacher type stuff) I deduce that women are happy to read thrillers, whereas men are less happy to read romances.

  10. “Ah, yes, those ‘Famous Five’ books… controversial!”

    These days George would be labelled trans and we’d have “Five go to the sex change clinic” as 10 year old George is injected with a cocktail of hormones by people who object to eating American beef due to it being injected with a cocktail of hormones….

  11. I quite enjoyed Wuthering Heights. I hadn’t realised Heathcliff was an adopted immigrant. They don’t usually mention that bit.

  12. With Giles Coren making a documentary called I Hate Jane Austen, to “save future generations of teenage boys having this dross rolled out in front of them”, we’re reminded again of the distaste for women’s writing and the misogyny underpinning the accusations of triviality that always accompany their work.

    I read Northanger Abbey recently and one thing I can say about Jane Austen is she had women down to a T. If a man had portrayed women like Austen did, he’d be branded a sexist misogynist worse than Trump!

  13. Blyton- The Valley of Adventure

    The Adventure books were brilliant, for a slightly older age than the Famous Fives. Circus of Adventure was the best IIRC.

  14. And of course there’s J K Rowling. I’ve heard she’s quite popular, too…

    Which is interesting, isn’t it? That publishing is overwhelmingly female-dominated, and yet the Guardian’s still crying about misogyny.

  15. The Famous Five book where they have to dive into a lake to recover some stolen treasure was great.

    The Five Find Outers were big favourites, until they were superseded by Commando comics and Battle-Action. That was the point where my sister and I diverged – we both read Enid Blyton etc till I was about nine and then it was war war war for me and ponies and shit for her.

    JK Rowling is a fraud and a charlatan – I used to have to read that shit to my kids and I hated it even before I realised what a smug cunt she was.

  16. JK Rowling is a fraud and a charlatan

    I wouldn’t go that far, though her THE WORST WITCH fanfic is about as original as a schoolboy insisting the dog ate his homework.

    JK is successful because she repackaged a lot of pre-existing stuff in a way that’s attractive to children, and she was able to do that well because she has the mind of a child.

  17. The Five Find Outers were big favourites, until they were superseded by Commando comics and Battle-Action.

    The Victor Book for Boys annuals were a staple of my childhood and absolutely fucking brilliant. I can still recite half the characters from memory.

  18. she’s a PhD candidate at Harvard who speaks Swahili, writes about postcolonial and transnational literature

    Truly, I am as mystified as our correspondent.

  19. Weird, but the strongest female characters I’ve read have been written by male authors – Pratchett, Varley, Heinlein. I like Le Guin, but everything of hers I’ve read and enjoyed has had male central characters (or male gendered).

  20. Austen is awfully good. Dickens is dire.

    I read lots of Blyton as a wee fellow and I can’t remember any of it except the words Noddy, Big-Ears, Famous Five and Secret Seven. The really gifted children’s writer in my day was Richmal Crompton. Also much enjoyed was Capt W. E. Johns.

  21. Jane Austen is one of my favourite authors! Yes it’s possible to write a comedy of manners and romance with clothes on. Surprisingly! Northanger Abbey (referenced by Tim N) is a witty spoof gothic novel and the problem with all-knowing STEM folk is that they come across dead authors as teenagers and rarely visit them again.

    George Elliot, the Brontë sisters, Elizabeth Gaskell : all excellent women authors of the nineteenth century.

    Then John² mentions Agatha Christie. One might add Josephine Tey, Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham.

    J K Rowling is rather formulaic, I grant.

  22. “JK is successful because she repackaged a lot of pre-existing stuff in a way that’s attractive to children, and she was able to do that well because she has the mind of a child.”

    There was also brilliant marketing – remember the secrecy surrounding the Harry Potter books? Release at midnight and so on? I admit I was caught up in it, and I suppose it’s something of an achievement to get children reading. My sister saw through her straightaway, being a teacher she was familiar with the books Rowling derived from. Oh, and Coren is a pillock.

  23. Tim N – oh yes, Victor was awesome.

    Dearieme – Richmal Crompton was excellent but Frank Richards took the biscuit for Bunter IMO. Still read them today from time to time.

  24. Golly, I’d forgotten Bunter. The Fat Owl of the Remove – is that right? I never did discover what the Remove is.

    Comics: after Beano and Dandy age there was The Eagle – over-rated if you ask me, and set of four I liked. Was Victor one? There were certainly Hotspur and Rover. What was the fourth?
    Wizard?

    They were replaced in my life by Reader’s Digest, New Scientist, RAF Flying Review, and a couple of motorbike mags the names of which escape me. I sometimes glanced at my father’s boatie stuff.

    Was there a gap between Hotspur and New Scientist? Lost in the mists.

    When we were small my parents had briefly treated us to a rag called The Children’s Newspaper which we eventually got them to cancel – a limp, preachy abomination.

  25. The best children’s author of them all is Rudyard Kipling. I have read Just So Stories aloud (they are perfect for aloud) to rural Malawian kids, to urban children living in drug and gang dominated hoods and to my own children and he drew them into his world, rapt to the last syllable.

  26. jesus – have you read the extract?
    No (real) man would buy this or read it to the end. Men simply ( or rather non sappy men) aren’t programmed to ‘get’ chick- lit, but will read female authors eg Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel ( tho she went well down in my estimation after writing a Thatcher asassination short story).
    Commando comics – thanks for reminding me ! still flick through them – wistfully going back half a century.

  27. I like Jane Austen. And of modern laydees Sarah Waters is excellent.

    Remove is the first year of senior school. Or was at mine.

  28. For those of you who like Kipling but don’t get Austen: Kipling was a massive fan.
    Read The Janeites to get some idea of his fanboy nature re Austen.
    A quote (not from the story): ““the more I read the more I admire and respect and do reverence… When she looks straight at a man or a woman she is greater than those who were alive with her – by a whole head… with a more delicate hand and a keener scalpel.””

  29. Yeah, but Kipling wrote straight most of the time, which doubtless is why his stuff appeals to those STEM-types more than Victorian romfic/romcom posing as literature.

    Now, if GCSE English teacher had introduced us to Thackeray, things might have been different.

    The trouble is, it is, like all the arts education that was inflicted on me at school, done with absurdly pompous reverence, and the resulting sneering at anyone who didn’t instantly fall in love with the English teacher’s favourite works. It’s entertainment and we shouldn’t take it so bloody seriously.

  30. Learned to read with superhero comics–DC and Marvel–then Richmal Crompton , Enid Blyton , them more superhero and ordinary comics then the newspapers. Then non-fiction military history plus then science fiction. Finally reaching Jack Vance–the best writer in science fiction–and the only fiction I still reread.

  31. The trouble is, it is, like all the arts education that was inflicted on me at school, done with absurdly pompous reverence, and the resulting sneering at anyone who didn’t instantly fall in love with the English teacher’s favourite works.

    +1

    I’m sure I’d have enjoyed Shakespeare more if we weren’t suddenly, at the age of 11, beaten around the head with impenetrable 17th century patois and told – rather than being shown – it was GRATE LITRACHUR.

    Imagine an English teacher in 2317 forcing the kids to watch classics such as DIE HARD, but making sure they don’t have any fun.

  32. Dearieme: we had a remove at school. It was for kids who failed O-levels first time round & needed to take some again. That was probably due to the propensity some years to push the A stream to do O-levels in 4 years rather than the 5 for us in the doltier forms.

  33. @SS2,

    They told us, but they couldn’t show us, because they only told us what they had been told to tell us, that it is GRATE LITRETCHUR.

    Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.

  34. Oh- and if you have the time: Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising cycle is perhaps the greatest work of kids fiction ever.

  35. I like Dickens, and Austen. I loved all the Hardy I read. Maybe I’m an undiscriminating philistine, but I doubt it. I think the difference is I read them for pleasure, voluntarily. For the last few years, the sort of concentration required to read serious fiction has been directed at non-fiction, but I might have to go back on a Penguin Classics jag. Trouble is, there’s so much of it. And then there’s the modern (ish) stuff. Should I be reading Cormac McCarthy or Tom Robbins instead of Nabokov and Saul Bellow? Henry James? Thomas Pynchon? Dom DeLillo? Flannery O’Connor, or Willa Cather, or Pearl Buck, if you want to stick to female 20th C. American writers? Opportunity cost is very high here.

    Giles Coren is very funny, but a total knob of whom a little goes a long way.

  36. My theory for getting teenage boys to appreciate Shakespeare, is to keep on pointing out all the knob gags.

    Unfortunately, the “teachers” in today’s state education factories are more likely to try to demand empathy with the french at Agincourt, than “cry God for Harry, England and Saint George!”

  37. The story of Margot and Robert, who meet at the independent cinema where Margot worked and gradually build a connection…

    And if that connection doesn’t quickly lead to either a shoot-out or a good, hard shag, or both, you’ve lost me.

    It’s bad enough having to sit through chick flicks with the wife just so I can get the remote back, so why would I want to inflict this sort of chick book shit upon myself? My wife already knows I got sensitivity out the blow hole, so who the fuck else should I care about when it comes to judging what I read for pleasure? Certainly not some progressive intersectional bimbo who is speaking Swahili at me.

  38. I enjoy Jane Austen, some Henry James, some George Eliot, Kipling, some Dickens, some E M Forster, and Joseph Conrad — ‘Nostromo’ is a masterpiece!

  39. @ Tractor Gent
    “Remove” at my school was the form before the ‘O’ level year when they sorted out which boys (about 1 in 5 or 6) would need to take an extra year before taking ‘O’ level (and drop Latin).
    I only remember one boy being kept back to take ‘O’ levels again – he was quite clever but thought he didn’t need to work at lessons because he was playing for the 1st XV at 15.

  40. @Ljh
    +1
    I have always assumed that Just So Stories were designed to be read aloud.
    Kipling wrote for children of both sexes – I inherited a copy of “Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides” and when I was a child the only book (apart from Bibles) of which there was two copies in the house was “Just So Stories” because each parent had been given one as a child and kept it.
    @ Andrew M
    Richmal Crompton is the one who would cause feminists to have hissy fits.

  41. “Richmal Crompton is the one who would cause feminists to have hissy fits.”

    And then there’s Conrad’s ‘The Nigger of the Narcissus’…

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