Is This Really A Thing?

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about whether men do or don’t “read women”.  Seriously?  This is enough of a thing to warrant people thoughtfully writing about it?  First of all, I guess there is some confusion about whether the question up for discussion is books by women or books about women (and of course, that whole “about” thing is fuzzier than some people would like it to be).  So first of all, it seems there are some poor souls out there who think women only write books with female characters and men only write books about male characters.  But assuming we’re talking about female authors, are there really a non-trivial number of people out there who filter their reading experience like that?

Based on the article linked above, it seems that Noah Berlatsky, at least, thinks this pathology has something to do with readers wanting to more easily identify with the main character of a book.  That’s kind of sad on its own, in my opinion – why would I want to spend all my time reading about people like me?  I’m like me already, so I don’t need a book to get another big helping of me.  But whatever the reason, it just seems pathetic to cut out huge swaths of authors and their books for no good reason.  I mean, should all the men in the reading public deny themselves the pleasure of reading China Mieville just because she …

ChinaMievilleOkay, I’ve just been told that China Mieville is, in fact, a large, strapping bald man.  But that sort of goes to my point.  The only logical reason for men not to “read women” is that they write “differently”, but I’ll bet that anyone who only reads authors of one gender only manages that feat because they know the gender ahead of time.  I’m not saying most people couldn’t make an educated guess, deprived of the author’s name and any prior information, but I rather doubt the odds would be good enough for 2-1 money.  But then, presumably the sort of person who would refuse to read books by women is also the kind of person who does the research to know what he’s going to think of a book before he reads it.  I just hope there aren’t really enough of them to worry about.

~ by smwilliams on April 30, 2013.