I read a fantastic post today. It was written by Rebecca Lehmann for the Contrary blog, and I thoroughly suggest that you click on this link and read it right away. Go ahead. It’s worth it. I’ll wait.
Ready? What did you think?
I’ll tell you why it struck me, besides the obvious fact that *gasp* I’m a girl and *bigger gasp* I even have a tendency to “write like one”. It caught my attention because I’m lucky enough to be interviewing an extremely cool creative soul, a clever woman who writes about darkness. We were discussing the stigma of tackling dark subject matter as a woman, and then, WHAM! This article!
Personally, I feel that being a woman with a unique, feminine writing style has helped, rather than hindered, me in my fledgling career. There seems to be a niche that I fall neatly into, and I’m delighted about it. Still, in my very first radio interview, I was grilled by the hosts who wanted to know how a good girl like myself wrote horror. Nice boys write horror all of the time, but it doesn’t seem to bat the public’s eye.
Do you see gender biases in writing? If so, where? Does it have to do with certain genres, certain individuals, certain magazines?
I’d love to see a lively debate in the comments. Actually, I’d love to discuss it more now, but I have to run to the doctor and check on the babies, do my daughter’s hair, and other woman related things. 😉 Catch ya later.
Mercedes, thanks for sharing this blog post with us. Frankly, I write like a girl and like it. It is who I am. I do not pretend to be anything other than FEMALE! I celebrate the feminine!
As for a woman writing horror, well why not! Frankenstein was written by a woman, Mary Shelly, for heaven’s sake and that was in 1817 almost 200 years ago. HELLO!!!! Women can write anything!
I have long celebrated “grrl power” before there was a “grrl power” movement. I was a feminist at age 6 back in 1963.
To me it is only natural to write like a girl. WOOT!
PS — hope all is well with the babies!
My current novel is a Paranormal thriller with practically no romance. The main character is a man. Several people have commented that they couldn’t believe I wrote something so dark and violent when I come off as such a feminine girl.
I think it’s more interesting to write these types of novels. It explores events that I know will never ever happen in my own life.
I think it goes both ways. I would be very surprised to see a passionate and emotional love story written by a man. It would be entertaining to read one. But it rarely happens.
I am curious about what you mean by a “feminine writing style.” While I write of female protagonists and often of love, I don’t feel that my writing style is feminine. So what about your writing style do you feel is feminine?
Well, girl or no, you regularly beat my ass at challenges. Also, you write a pretty good noir, darlin’, so who cares how you write, as long as it entertains readers?
I do tend to write with different nuances when I’m writing from the POV of a female character. Is it still masculine writing? Not sure. But I know there’s a difference.
I actually read this yesterday and found myself thinking… “What difference does it make?” Yes, everyone has their type/style that we like to read, some stories lag more for some than others, but really, if you’re a man or a woman…what does that matter?
I hate to go all Hands Across America, but we’re all apart of the writing community, we all know what it’s like to pour our hearts and souls into our stories — although some of our processes are different, even with stories I might not like, I still respect the author because I know what they have gone through.
At least we should be respectful to that fact. Just bc we don’t like their particular kind of writing doesn’t and won’t ever take the hard work, creativity, sweat, blood and tears each of us has poured into our pieces. No one can take that away from male writers or women writers…
As much as I’m annoyed by the concept of gender as binary on one level (which is sort of where she goes with the article), I also revel in the aspects of my personality–and writing–that are typically considered both feminine and masculine, as I’m probably split down the middle on those. I’m not sure I revel in them BECAUSE of those categories, but I certainly don’t hate discussing them in those terms. Maybe I should.
I’m even hypocritical because I genuinely like biologically being a (rather small, round-faced, innocent looking) girl who writes scary stuff. I think it’s hilarious when people ask what I write and I get the look of disbelief. I use it to my advantage, even. Can I complain?
Did you see the gender selector thing, where you paste in a few pages and it tells you if you write more like a woman or a man? Can’t remember if I saw it linked here or somewhere else. It’s interesting, anyhow.
Yay, Ardee-ann! Your comment made me smile. Let’s bake muffins and celebrate! And the babies are doing very well. The doctor thinks they’ll both make it to birth, so I should be able to hold both girls before the one passes away. It’s more than I dreamed of, and I’m desperately hoping for it. 😀
Ooh, Laurie, I’m intrigued! Also, it’s funny that we have made so many strides regarding equality and gender, but it surprises somebody when a woman writes violence and a man writes romance. It’s interesting.
Cynthia- Great question! My writing tends to divide itself into two voices. One has best been described as “smart aleck swagger” and the other is very lyrical. The word choice itself is almost overwhelmingly feminine. I had somebody tease that he could always pick my stories out because I always used the word “exquisite” and “fragile” in them. I also theme strongly around flowers. Men certainly do these things, but as Laurie brought up above, some eyebrows are raised when they do.
Simon, I find your writing to be extremely masculine. Even when you wrote your “Still As Deep Water” (if I didn’t massacre the title), which is much more sensitive than most of the work that I’ve read, it’s still pretty straight-forward, which is how I typically perceive male-oriented writing.
Kara, yes! I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to write “according to gender”, or whatever. I don’t find it advantageous or detrimental to write with a more male or female associated style. But I don’t like it when gender is used as a diss, because it simply isn’t true.
kv-Oh, that’s write! The gender selector! It IS interesting. I use the gender thing to my advantage, as well, and I think that’s fine. I think my work places well because people want something a little lighter and, in my case, more lyrical to fill out their collections. Since it’s the way that I write naturally, I enjoy it. But I know women who are sought after especially for their visceral darkness. All that really matters is that we write!
Mercedes, happy to hear about the babies. I am holding you all close to my heart.
I had too much fun playing with the gender genie. I found that most of my descriptive scenes were feminine and all of my action scenes were masculine. LOL!
Back in the 90’s there was a wonderful Nike ad about running like a girl. I can’t remember the whole thing, but the punchline was “Yes, I run like a girl. I am a girl. Why do you expect me not to run like one?” or something to that effect.
So, yes, you write like a woman because you are a woman. It’s really silly to expect you to write like a man. (I know that there are some who do and that’s great, too.) Or to think that because one is female that one’s writing is less. I think Sappho and a few others in history would have a thing or two to say about that. 🙂
And how boring it would be if all writers wrote like men. Variety is the spice of life. Viva la difference. And what the heck difference does it make anyway?
I did the “gender genie” twice. I got male and female, which makes sense. I think whether a writer writes like a girl or a guy depends as much on what is written as who writes it.
There’s a (relatively) well-known romance author in the UK who writes under a pen-name because there’s still a stigma associated with writing romance. That he has also got a great series of western novels to his (real) name seems to be irrelevant to readers of his romances – most of whom are probably still under the belief that he is a “she”.
Ignore those who don’t get it. Odds are fair that they will never wrap their heads around the fact that the gender of an author has nothing to do with the finished work.