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catian
02-29-2012, 11:16 AM
To the Moderators:
This is an interesting topic that I think would make for a good discussion I hope.
If it is not then apologies in advance.

I sometimes wonder whether us readers are able to tell a female from a male's book if pen names were available.
This brings me to thinking about the time when women were not allowed to publish their books on their ground of their gender .
Names such as George Eliot and Ellis Bell ring a bell.

Then these women writers got away with it which assumes that they were believed to be men and therefore women write in the exactly the same as men.

Discuss.

dpaterso
02-29-2012, 12:17 PM
Use Basic Writing Questions for actual writing questions, and AW Roundtable for broader writing style related discussions, please! :)

-Derek

Words.Worth
02-29-2012, 12:24 PM
Judging by the cover colors a pinkish one would be a giveaway.

dpaterso
02-29-2012, 12:51 PM
Judging by the cover colors a pinkish one would be a giveaway.
Roundtable's usually more a serious debate forum. Just sayin'.

-Derek

gothicangel
02-29-2012, 01:08 PM
I spy a locked thread, this way comes. :D

This wouldn't have anything to do with your thread in Novels, does it? Because if it does, you are barking up the wrong tree. Us of the female variety can be just as gory, violent and dark as our male counterparts.

Words.Worth
02-29-2012, 01:12 PM
Roundtable's usually more a serious debate forum. Just sayin'.

-Derek


I see. But my answer was serious even though it could be taken as a bit less intelligent.

I'll take your remark on board though, thx.

Words.Worth
02-29-2012, 01:18 PM
.
.
.

Us of the female variety can be just as gory, violent and dark as our male counterparts.


I agree, we can't differentiate gender by the violence in writing.

catian
02-29-2012, 01:30 PM
Judging by the cover colors a pinkish one would be a giveaway.
Haha...pinkish for ladies and Bluey for gents you mean?

catian
02-29-2012, 01:44 PM
Use Basic Writing Questions for actual writing questions, and AW Roundtable for broader writing style related discussions, please! :)

-Derek
Sorry about and thank you.
I shall keep that in mind.

catian
02-29-2012, 01:47 PM
I spy a locked thread, this way comes. :D

This wouldn't have anything to do with your thread in Novels, does it? Because if it does, you are barking up the wrong tree. Us of the female variety can be just as gory, violent and dark as our male counterparts.
Hi gothicangel. Nothing to do with Novels just a general discussion.
I just wanted to talk about how different and similar are women and men's writings.
Can a reader tell the difference for example.

Words.Worth
02-29-2012, 02:04 PM
Haha...pinkish for ladies and Bluey for gents you mean?


Well the color in your signature got me quick thinking

catian
02-29-2012, 03:06 PM
Well the color in your signature got me quick thinking
Ah. Well stopped and I did not even realise you meant that.
That is very well observed Sir!:)

Devil Ledbetter
02-29-2012, 03:07 PM
Hi gothicangel. Nothing to do with Novels just a general discussion.
I just wanted to talk about how different and similar are women and men's writings.
Can a reader tell the difference for example.As often as I am mistaken for a man on these forums, I would say no. It seems people figure out I'm female only after I mention my husband or talk about a pregnancy or some such thing.

I too have misread the genders of other posters. This tells me that gender isn't obvious in writing, and also that it's far from important to writing. In that sense, the written word is an equalizer.

Stacia Kane
02-29-2012, 03:08 PM
Can a reader tell the difference for example.

Can you?

Mr Flibble
02-29-2012, 03:16 PM
I'm currently writing under a male pen name, so I hope not :D We shall see.

eqb
02-29-2012, 03:27 PM
Alice B. Sheldon wrote under the name James Tiptree, Jr. for years before her identity was discovered. No one could tell the difference. They only found her out because everyone wanted to know who this award-winning writer was, so they wanted to track "him" down.

catian
02-29-2012, 03:38 PM
Can you?
Yes and No.
If we take Modern books then I would assume because the language is modernised in a such a way then I would not be able to tell the difference because women and men have moved on with the feminist movement and our life style have also updated that it is not easy to spot the difference.
J.K Rowlings used initials as her pen name because she wanted her readers to believe she was a man.
Has she got away with it ? I have no idea but it seems by her popularity amongst young teenagers may suggest that she did.
Again the facts behind her selling widely and to which gender she was most popular with is not clear.

If I move to say victorian time and consider Austin, I am not sure I would be able to tell either.
I personally would have assumed that one may because of the differences in status rank and everyday life.
Austin's writing is largely based on characters descriptions both men and women and for someone who can write freely about both genders suggest to me someone who knows a fair bit about both so well in such a way that I am not sure anymore...

The other point if this may answer it is if that George Eliot and Ellis Bell got away with it by selling through a male pen name then leaves to think that there is no difference between a man's writing and a woman's.

Again I need to research it more.

catian
02-29-2012, 03:42 PM
As often as I am mistaken for a man on these forums, I would say no. It seems people figure out I'm female only after I mention my husband or talk about a pregnancy or some such thing.

I too have misread the genders of other posters. This tells me that gender isn't obvious in writing, and also that it's far from important to writing. In that sense, the written word is an equalizer.
Hi Devil Ledbetter I thought you were a man and maybe your avatar had a lot to do with it, not this one, the other one.
Also I could not tell the way you interacted, I thought you were a He..Apologies:o

catian
02-29-2012, 03:43 PM
I'm currently writing under a male pen name, so I hope not :D We shall see.
Can I ask you why you chose a male pen name?

eqb
02-29-2012, 04:02 PM
If I move to say victorian time and consider Austin, I am not sure I would be able to tell either.

Picky notes:

If you are talking about Jane Austen (not Austin) she lived in the Regency era, not the Victorian. Victoria started her reign in 1837. Austen died in 1817.

Stacia Kane
02-29-2012, 04:04 PM
Yes and No.
If we take Modern books then I would assume because the language is modernised in a such a way then I would not be able to tell the difference because women and men have moved on with the feminist movement and our life style have also updated that it is not easy to spot the difference.


Hmm.



J.K Rowlings used initials as her pen name because she wanted her readers to believe she was a man.
Has she got away with it ? I have no idea but it seems by her popularity amongst young teenagers may suggest that she did.
Again the facts behind her selling widely and to which gender she was most popular with is not clear.


Is that why she used initials?

Also, the facts behind her selling widely are in fact pretty clear: she wrote a great series that lots and lots of people really loved. There's no mystery to it, and implying that there is, IMO, detracts from her accomplishments and talent. Which gender likes her better is unclear because it's not important.



If I move to say victorian time and consider Austin, I am not sure I would be able to tell either.


Austen did not live or write in the Victorian era. She died twenty years before Victoria ascended the throne.



I personally would have assumed that one may because of the differences in status rank and everyday life.
Austin's writing is largely based on characters descriptions both men and women and for someone who can write freely about both genders suggest to me someone who knows a fair bit about both so well in such a way that I am not sure anymore...

Not sure what you're saying here; you seem to be implying that Austen was actually a man, because she was capable of writing "freely" about both genders?

That's the job of a writer. If you can't write realistic characters of both genders, you're not very good at that job. Writers need to be able to know and understand people if they want to write realistic people.




The other point if this may answer it is if that George Eliot and Ellis Bell got away with it by selling through a male pen name then leaves to think that there is no difference between a man's writing and a woman's.

Again I need to research it more.

Just curious: Why? Why do you care so much about this topic? Why does it matter? Why do you need to research it?

Also, the first bit of your post I quoted was about how perhaps in modern times there's no difference because of feminism, but all of the authors you mention as crossing the gender line were published a hundred years ago or more. Clearly this isn't an issue of modern vs. historical. You've answered your own question here, repeatedly.

jaksen
02-29-2012, 04:12 PM
I've said this before, so I'll throw it in here. I use my first two initials, last name as my 'pen name.' Some time ago I went to NYC to get a little award and another author came up to congratulate me. He went to shake my husband's hand, saying, "Loved your story, was on the committee which selected it."

In which case, Mike (my husband), turned aside and said 'She's the writer.'

So I guess, for some, I write just like a man.

Archerbird
02-29-2012, 04:43 PM
I don't think so. On here is a good example, I keep discovering that people are the opposite gender of what I thought. Personally, I can't tell what gender an author is, and personally, I don't give a s**t.

catian
02-29-2012, 04:52 PM
I don't think so. On here is a good example, I keep discovering that people are the opposite gender of what I thought. Personally, I can't tell what gender an author is, and personally, I don't give a s**t.
That was exactly my point before I found out J.K Rowlings used initials to disguie the fact that she was a woman.
That surprised me because it is still happening and it makes me wonder about how many other authors out there like J.K Rowlings are pretending to be what they are not.
At the end of the day it was quite a disappointment to hear about J.K Rowlings case because it does undermine the status of women writers.
Just an opinion.

Mr Flibble
02-29-2012, 04:52 PM
Can I ask you why you chose a male pen name?






Is that why she used initials?



For many of the same reasons JK used her initials - for her, her target audience was boys, and iirc it was thought they might not read a book written by a woman. Sadly, over here, that might even be true.

I decided on using a pen name because the genre I am writing in now is far removed from my fantasy romance (very far lol). I'm using the name because I'm writing in a male POV and...well, we just thought a gender neutral-ish (I use the male version, but the m/f versions are similar) name would be better. I'm not going to hide that I am, in fact, female (be hard at signings and conferences!) but a casual browser won't know. And a casual browser...will they care? I don't know. Perhaps - it wouldn't surprise me in the least. But I was going to use a pen name anyway, and I like this one. So there you are.

But I ain't telling any of you what it is :D

Marya
02-29-2012, 04:56 PM
Gender stereotyping, yawn.

A little queer performativity anyone?

catian
02-29-2012, 05:11 PM
Hmm.



Is that why she used initials?

Also, the facts behind her selling widely are in fact pretty clear: she wrote a great series that lots and lots of people really loved. There's no mystery to it, and implying that there is, IMO, detracts from her accomplishments and talent. Which gender likes her better is unclear because it's not important.





Austen did not live or write in the Victorian era. She died twenty years before Victoria ascended the throne.

Thank you for the correction. I never looked at the dates when I got to know about Austen.




Not sure what you're saying here; you seem to be implying that Austen was actually a man, because she was capable of writing "freely" about both genders?

What I am suggesting is that it is difficult to strike a balance with both genders in descritptions mannerism and beings. The only person capabel of doing so is someone who feels they are both.
This is just an opinion.

That's the job of a writer. If you can't write realistic characters of both genders, you're not very good at that job. Writers need to be able to know and understand people if they want to write realistic people.






Just curious: Why? Why do you care so much about this topic? Why does it matter? Why do you need to research it?

I am interested in it because it is a fascinating subjects and speaks volume about the person.
I have a feeling that women tend to come across as men and vice versa.
This has been obvious to me and what this means is that in writing one is able to find/strike that balance of being both feminin and masculin. I mean that there is no doubt we human are made of both man and a woman, and so the best way to express our opposite feelings/our opposite gender and be in harmony with ourselves so to speak (masculin or feminin) is to engage in the art of writing.



Also, the first bit of your post I quoted was about how perhaps in modern times there's no difference because of feminism, but all of the authors you mention as crossing the gender line were published a hundred years ago or more. Clearly this isn't an issue of modern vs. historical. You've answered your own question here, repeatedly.
[/QUOTE]
Well there is no real answer here because I cannot for sure prove whether George Eliot was a woman in real life.
The only way to prove an author to be who they say they are through their pen names is to further research writing via stories and books.
It is not an easy thing to do but there is a lot of room for it if you know how to approach it which is my area.

Devil Ledbetter
02-29-2012, 05:21 PM
Hi Devil Ledbetter I thought you were a man and maybe your avatar had a lot to do with it, not this one, the other one.
Also I could not tell the way you interacted, I thought you were a He..Apologies:o
It doesn't bother me. It happens all the time between my male avatar, my gender-neutral username and perhaps my writing style too.

What's funny though is that this avatar is the same man as in my previous avatar: Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, circa 1970.

Anne Lyle
02-29-2012, 05:23 PM
If I move to say victorian time and consider Austin, I am not sure I would be able to tell either.
I personally would have assumed that one may because of the differences in status rank and everyday life.
Austin's writing is largely based on characters descriptions both men and women and for someone who can write freely about both genders suggest to me someone who knows a fair bit about both so well in such a way that I am not sure anymore...

I think it's fairly obvious Austen is a woman, because IIRC none of her novels contain a scene from a male PoV or with no women present. This topic came up when the BBC did their adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, as Andrew Davies' screenplay includes a few invented scenes from Darcy's PoV, e.g. when he was at the fencing club.

It would be very strange for a man of that era not to write about men at least some of the time, I think. The fact that Austen was a great observer of character and wrote some wonderfully memorable men doesn't change the fact that all her major novels revolve around courtship from the perspective of women.

Cyia
02-29-2012, 05:24 PM
As often as I am mistaken for a man on these forums, I would say no.

The same thing happens to me.

When I wrote fanfic, my readers thought I was male. (A fair number thought I was male, and married, which I've yet to figure out.)

When I first started querying, I got responses addressed to "Mr. McQuein" and the best results /most requests came from men. :D


Can I ask you why you chose a male pen name?

Probably for the same reason Nora Roberts writes as J.D. Robb. It differentiates her books, so someone wanting a romance doesn't get a crime novel, or vice versa, and it also means that she wasn't automatically dismissed as "oh... the romance writer" when she switched genres.


Hmm.



Is that why she used initials?


AFAIK, she was asked if she couldn't use a more neutral name (like Jo), but instead used her first initial, and that of her mother, so there was no clear indicator of whether she was male or female to turn off boys who wouldn't want a "girly" book.

Amadan
02-29-2012, 05:32 PM
The Naipaul Test (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/quiz/2011/jun/02/naipaul-test-author-s-sex-quiz).

catian
02-29-2012, 05:33 PM
It doesn't bother me. It happens all the time between my male avatar, my gender-neutral username and perhaps my writing style too.

What's funny though is that this avatar is the same man as in my previous avatar: Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, circa 1970.
I thought the two avatars were different.
Ithink the first one looked more masculin because it was very closed in.
When I first saw this second avatar I thought it was a woman..haha.

BethS
02-29-2012, 05:41 PM
As often as I am mistaken for a man on these forums, I would say no. It seems people figure out I'm female only after I mention my husband or talk about a pregnancy or some such thing.



It's the avatar. :) People assume male photo = male poster.

Edited to add...



What's funny though is that this avatar is the same man as in my previous avatar: Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, circa 1970.


Ah! I've often wondered if it was actually someone famous, rather than you, or maybe someone you knew.

catian
02-29-2012, 05:46 PM
The Naipaul Test (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/quiz/2011/jun/02/naipaul-test-author-s-sex-quiz).
Amadan thank you for the link.
Very interesting.:)
Have you done it?

HoneyBadger
02-29-2012, 05:51 PM
I think there's certainly a very interesting conversation to be had about the cultural sexism and writing for sure.

My alpha reader reads a lot of SF/F, a genre filled with well-respected female authors, and he has a hard time understanding why I'm nervous (because I'm a neurotic mess who builds carts before even looking to purchase horses) to be a Very Serious Lady Writer.

Serious fiction by women about women gets chucked into Women's Lit, and there aren't nearly as many well-known modern female litfic writers as male. Kingsolver writes so well, but I know dozens of women who have read The Poisonwood Bible, and one man who has.

It's a cultural issue for sure.

The Bechdel Movie test is a really interesting test. (http://bechdeltest.com/) Pretty much, there are three points a movie can get, and in order to score the full 3 points, any given movie must:

1. Have at least two named women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

People gave Jonathan Franzen shit for refusing Oprah's bookclub, as he didn't want his book to be seen as being Women's Lit. I get that. From a marketing standpoint, I totally get that, and it's horrible than men really shy from lady books and lady authors.

BethS
02-29-2012, 05:51 PM
Use Basic Writing Questions for actual writing questions, and AW Roundtable for broader writing style related discussions, please! :)

-Derek

Thank you. I've been wondering what this section is for. :)

eqb
02-29-2012, 06:07 PM
Well there is no real answer here because I cannot for sure prove whether George Eliot was a woman in real life.

Of course, for you to be uncertain if Austen and Eliot were women requires that you ignore the extensive historical records left behind by them, their families, friends, and associates. (Correspondence, biographies by relatives and friends, etc.)

Mara
02-29-2012, 06:27 PM
catian:
It seems like you're implying Jane Austen was genderqueer/androgyne. I don't have any way to say whether or not she was, but I do know that there's a heck of a lot more to gender identity than writing style. And no, a person doesn't have to be genderqueer to write from both a male or female perspective.

Are you dealing with gender issues yourself and looking for validation, or just idly speculating? If it's the first, I understand, because I did the same thing before I got comfortable with myself. (I'm transsexual.) But if you're just speculating, I'd suggest maybe studying up on the subject more. There's _way_ more to it than writing style.

Phaeal
02-29-2012, 06:34 PM
George Eliot was a man pretending to be a woman pretending to be a man. S'obvious.

Cyia
02-29-2012, 06:36 PM
George Eliot was a man pretending to be a woman pretending to be a man. S'obvious.

Wait... Marian Evans wrote Victor Victoria?

veinglory
02-29-2012, 06:51 PM
I know I can't. I had assumed RA MacAvoy was a man. Oops.

iRock
02-29-2012, 07:03 PM
People gave Jonathan Franzen shit for refusing Oprah's bookclub, as he didn't want his book to be seen as being Women's Lit. I get that. From a marketing standpoint, I totally get that, and it's horrible than men really shy from lady books and lady authors.

Which is funny because an overwhelming number of the books Oprah chose were written by men. Not a single one was penned by a woman since 2004. Even before that the boys outnumbered the girls. Crazy.

Chiron
02-29-2012, 07:10 PM
I spy a locked thread, this way comes. :D

Us of the female variety can be just as gory, violent and dark as our male counterparts.

Amen! I have made a few men blush with the level of violence and darkness I've written.

I also write under a male pen name and call myself "king."

That aside, I have noticed that there are some female writers who write men that make you go, "You are clearly a woman writing a man" and vice versa.

HoneyBadger
02-29-2012, 07:10 PM
Which is funny because an overwhelming number of the books Oprah chose were written by men. Not a single one was penned by a woman since 2004. Even before that the boys outnumbered the girls. Crazy.

Yup, but how many tough dudes are going to pick up a Nicholas Sparks book? Men can write for men and women, women can only write for women, and if a book is popular with women, men won't read it. Though, women buy more books than men, so...

In the rabid litsnobbery of my youth, I purposefully avoided Oprah picks, because no way could she promote Very Serious Fiction. Luckily, I got over it (though I'm still working on getting over myself).

It's a cruddy paradigm for sure.

catian
02-29-2012, 07:17 PM
[QUOTE=Mara;7053461]catian:
It seems like you're implying Jane Austen was genderqueer/androgyne. I don't have any way to say whether or not she was, but I do know that there's a heck of a lot more to gender identity than writing style. And no, a person doesn't have to be genderqueer to write from both a male or female perspective.

Hi Mara. Nice meeting and chatting with you:hi:
Apologies,I do not know what those two words actually mean so I will look them up.
I looked androgyne and it is not what I mean far from it.
I mean a person needs to be in touch with their femininity and their masculinity in a such balanced to be able to speak freely about both gender and showin minute knowledge about it.
For example you have to be a woman to understand truly what a woman is about, and you have a man to truly understand what goes on in a man'smind.
Now the combination of the two in such a perfect symetry will allow you to understand both minds correctly.


Are you dealing with gender issues yourself and looking for validation, or just idly speculating? If it's the first, I understand, because I did the same thing before I got comfortable with myself. (I'm transsexual.) But if you're just speculating, I'd suggest maybe studying up on the subject more There's _way_ more to it than writing style.
I do not have gender issues but live with people who do and it is one subject that it very close to me.

catian
02-29-2012, 07:20 PM
George Eliot was a man pretending to be a woman pretending to be a man. S'obvious.
Now that is a challenge.

Mara
02-29-2012, 07:26 PM
[QUOTE]

Hi Mara. Nice meeting and chatting with you:hi:
Apologies,I do not know what those two words actually mean so I will look them up.
I looked androgyne and it is not what I mean far from it.
I mean a person needs to be in touch with their femininity and their masculinity in a such balanced to be able to speak freely about both gender and showin minute knowledge about it.
For example you have to be a woman to understand truly what a woman is about, and you have a man to truly understand what goes on in a man'smind.
Now the combination of the two in such a perfect symetry will allow you to understand both minds correctly.


Actually, that's the definition of androgyne I was talking about. Basically, combining male and female identities.

SomethingOrOther
02-29-2012, 07:54 PM
From Julian Barnes' Paris Review interview:



INTERVIEWER


You are very good at women characters—they seem true. How does a man get into the skin of a woman?


BARNES


I have a Handelsman cartoon on my wall of a mother reading a bedtime story to her little daughter, who’s clutching a teddy bear. The book in the mother’s hand is Madame Bovary, and she’s saying, “The surprising thing is that Flaubert, who was a man, actually got it.” Writers of either gender ought to be able to do the opposite sex—that’s one basic test of competence, after all. Russian male writers—think of Turgenev, Chekhov—seem exceptionally good at women. I don’t know how, as a writer, you understand the opposite sex except in the same way as you seek to understand any other sort of person you are not, whether you are separated from them by age, race, creed, color or sex. You pay the closest attention you can, you look, you listen, you ask, you imagine. But that’s what you do—what you should do—as a normal member of society anyway.

Buffysquirrel
02-29-2012, 07:55 PM
The funny thing is that a man did claim he was George Eliot, for a while. Annoyed Mary Ann Evans no end.

Eh. I've found that I make assumptions about the gender of the author of a piece I'm reading, especially when reading slush, where the author isn't someone I know. Sometimes I am right. Sometimes I am wrong. It's hard to know whether I get more right than could be expected from chance.

Another thing I've noticed is that if I'm aware of the author's gender, and I'm reading a first person story in which gender isn't immediately assigned to the narrator, I assign them the author's gender. I've done this so many times that I laugh when I still do it, despite warning myself not to do it any more.

kuwisdelu
02-29-2012, 08:07 PM
I am actually a twelve-year-old girl.

catian
02-29-2012, 08:11 PM
Actually, that's the definition of androgyne I was talking about. Basically, combining male and female identities.
Well this is what the definition of androgyne says
An androgyne is a transgender individual who does not cleanly fit into binary male or female gender.

I would say that in my views there is no such a thing as having no gender.
What I am trying to say is someone who has both affinities, someone who has perfect symetry of a man and a woman, be it a man or a woman.
I am suggesting that humans have it both in them to feel feminin and masculin. There are people who are able to make that transition between feeling a man and then a woman and are perfectly happy in their body.
So this person in particular would have reached that harmony of reconciling both their feminin and masculin sides.
This person is then able to understand both genders better then someone who is not comfortable with their gender/body or is not yet aware that they need to find their opposite feelings.
So I am suggesting that through writing and expressions, creating idealistic plots and imagining scenarios and stories, the writer is able to imagine himself as a she, or vice versa, through their characters.
A writer is able to experience and imagine themselves to be someone else, or to be the opposite sex, is a liberating,invigorating and quite inspiring experience.

SomethingOrOther
02-29-2012, 08:19 PM
I am actually a twelve-year-old girl.

I'm actually a one-year-old puppy.

Well, given my WIP list, it wouldn't surprise me if people believed that.

catian
02-29-2012, 08:29 PM
I am actually a twelve-year-old girl.
Can ask if that is you in the picture?

kuwisdelu
02-29-2012, 08:35 PM
Can ask if that is you in the picture?

No. That's David Gilmour. Lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Circa 1967. Before he took over for Syd Barrett. Devil and I are kinda fangirly.

catian
02-29-2012, 08:54 PM
No. That's David Gilmour. Lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Circa 1967. Before he took over for Syd Barrett. Devil and I are kinda fangirly.
Oh wow..I obviously do not know what Pink Floyd look like.
I have heard of them though.:)

Devil Ledbetter
02-29-2012, 08:56 PM
No. That's David Gilmour. Lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Circa 1967. Before he took over for Syd Barrett. Devil and I are kinda fangirly.:ROFL:

Stacia Kane
02-29-2012, 09:22 PM
What I am suggesting is that it is difficult to strike a balance with both genders in descritptions mannerism and beings. The only person capabel of doing so is someone who feels they are both.
This is just an opinion.



It's utter rubbish. I don't feel like a man. That doesn't mean I can't write believable male characters. I write them the same way I write other believable characters who are not exactly like me: I watch people, I study their reactions, I make educated assumptions, I imagine.



I am interested in it because it is a fascinating subjects and speaks volume about the person.

If you say so.



I have a feeling that women tend to come across as men and vice versa.

In writing? What in the world is giving you that feeling?



This has been obvious to me and what this means is that in writing one is able to find/strike that balance of being both feminin and masculin. I mean that there is no doubt we human are made of both man and a woman, and so the best way to express our opposite feelings/our opposite gender and be in harmony with ourselves so to speak (masculin or feminin) is to engage in the art of writing.

I think there are lots of ways to express oneself. I don't think writing has any special claim on being the absolute best way to express gender.

(I also wonder at the lack of "e"s at the end of the words "feminine" and "masculine," especially "feminine," since in French most feminine nouns have an "e" at the end. It would seem natural that that would carry over, especially when writing the word "feminine.")




Well there is no real answer here because I cannot for sure prove whether George Eliot was a woman in real life.


Again, utter rubbish. It's been proven again and again. It is FACT.



The only way to prove an author to be who they say they are through their pen names is to further research writing via stories and books.
It is not an easy thing to do but there is a lot of room for it if you know how to approach it which is my area.

So you know how to approach it and prove it, but cannot conclusively prove it even though there are masses of proof out there and it's an accepted fact?

Not to mention, no. Studying their actual writing does not conclusively prove gender. If it did there wouldn't still be people out there claiming Shakespeare's plays were actually written by a woman. Reading my books does not conclusively prove that they were written by a woman. What conclusively proves that they were written by a woman is that fact that I am a woman and I wrote them. I know several women who write male leads and I promise you don't read them thinking, "Oh, this had to be written by a woman."

You know why? Because a good writer is able to immerse themselves in their characters and make them believable.




George Eliot was a man pretending to be a woman pretending to be a man. S'obvious.

George/Georgia.





I would say that in my views there is no such a thing as having no gender.
What I am trying to say is someone who has both affinities, someone who has perfect symetry of a man and a woman, be it a man or a woman.
I am suggesting that humans have it both in them to feel feminin and masculin. There are people who are able to make that transition between feeling a man and then a woman and are perfectly happy in their body.
So this person in particular would have reached that harmony of reconciling both their feminin and masculin sides.
This person is then able to understand both genders better then someone who is not comfortable with their gender/body or is not yet aware that they need to find their opposite feelings.
So I am suggesting that through writing and expressions, creating idealistic plots and imagining scenarios and stories, the writer is able to imagine himself as a she, or vice versa, through their characters.
A writer is able to experience and imagine themselves to be someone else, or to be the opposite sex, is a liberating,invigorating and quite inspiring experience.

I'll agree that being able to fully realize a character who is of the opposite gender is a great experience. I will absolutely reject the idea that in order to write believable characters of the opposite gender one must be able to fully imagine oneself as that gender or that character. No. One must only be able to understand that character enough to accurately portray them.

What you're telling me is that in order to write a real, believable male character I must be able to reach some mythical "balance" in myself where I can totally act like, feel like, and behave like a man. You're wrong. Furthermore, you're telling me there is some universal "male" and "female" behavior that one must immerse oneself in, thus leaving no room for men or women who don't act like stereotypes. If your theory that there are specific "male" and "female" qualities is to be believed--which, sure, I can accept it even though I find it a bit sexist--then that means both men and women have a broad spectrum of feelings and behaviors inside them. There is no one way to be a man or a woman and no one way to portray men and/or women. There are only individuals, and those are what writers need to understand. Not all men, just that man. Not all women, just that woman.

It's called "imagination," and writers need to have one and use it.

HoneyBadger
02-29-2012, 09:44 PM
Gender as a whole is a construct. "Masculine" and "feminine" are constructs, too.

Really investigating one's notions of traditional Western male vs female characteristics, I think, is a good exercise in discovering what the human condition really entails.

Sure, some women love talking about shoes and handbags, but that doesn't make "shopping" an inherently feminine thing.

buz
02-29-2012, 09:55 PM
People is people.

If I write the following (and, be warned, PROFANITY FOLLOWS):


Taylor looked up at the bits of meat on the ceiling, the blood Pollocked all over the fridge, the scraps of skin hanging off the Caravaggio painting in the hall covering Jesus' buttcheek. It was like someone had put a fucking cow into one of those Spin Art toys. "Shit on a ballsack..."What gender is Taylor? What gender am I? Does anyone care? ;)

(Of course someone will care eventually what gender Taylor is. I guess. Whatever. Not the point. :P)

HoneyBadger
02-29-2012, 10:04 PM
People is people.

If I write the following (and, be warned, PROFANITY FOLLOWS):

What gender is Taylor? What gender am I? Does anyone care? ;)

(Of course someone will care eventually what gender Taylor is. I guess. Whatever. Not the point. :P)

Taylor is clearly male as everyone knows no right-proper lady could bear to see blood and remain conscious, and would never, ever use such crude fucking language.

The Lonely One
02-29-2012, 10:16 PM
I'm usually unable to distinguish by writing alone. I can't imagine what indicators there would be, unless it's some genetic or social speech pattern science I'm unaware of.

Further, regardless of the author gender I find it very difficult often to tell the sex of a narrator until it is revealed in some way.

gothicangel
02-29-2012, 10:19 PM
Taylor is clearly male as everyone knows no right-proper lady could bear to see blood and remain conscious, and would never, ever use such crude fucking language.

My hysterical nature is due to my possession of ovaries. :D

The Lonely One
02-29-2012, 10:25 PM
Gender as a whole is a construct. "Masculine" and "feminine" are constructs, too.

Really investigating one's notions of traditional Western male vs female characteristics, I think, is a good exercise in discovering what the human condition really entails.

Sure, some women love talking about shoes and handbags, but that doesn't make "shopping" an inherently feminine thing.

Agreed. However, stripped of social context, aren't there biological traits which would suggest 'masculine' or 'feminine' in other ways (although I would agree these definitions are rather narrow)? Such as, men don't have large mammory glands or wombs, things that inherently nurture a child's development. I think men in some biological sense are structured to take the hunt/gather role, even though social evolution has allowed this line to blur entirely.

Though I see writing as a rather sexless, observatory role. For my taste it needs to be about the human condition, and not section off either/any sex.

Someone correct me if I'm totally off about the biology.

Anne Lyle
02-29-2012, 10:26 PM
I've tried putting my writing through the Gender Genie, and the scenes from the PoV of male characters tend to get me tagged as a guy, and the female PoV as a woman. I suspect the truth is that the test is too simplistic :)

Anne Lyle
02-29-2012, 10:30 PM
Agreed. However, stripped of social context, aren't there biological traits which would suggest 'masculine' or 'feminine' in other ways (although I would agree these definitions are rather narrow)? Such as, men don't have large mammory glands or wombs, things that inherently nurture a child's development. I think men in some biological sense are structured to take the hunt/gather role, even though social evolution has allowed this line to blur entirely.

Well, yes, obviously women are physically specialised to be able to bear and feed babies, and men have more upper body strength and muscle mass (probably adapted for hunting over many, many Paleolithic generations) - and those differences have helped to solidify different roles in the majority of human societies. But the two sexes overlap considerably in behaviour and psychology.

The Lonely One
02-29-2012, 10:32 PM
I guess that could be a whole different conversation about social and biological evolution, and where they cross, or what roles they play within one another. And would require entirely more research on my part.

HoneyBadger
02-29-2012, 10:34 PM
Agreed. However, stripped of social context, aren't there biological traits which would suggest 'masculine' or 'feminine' in other ways (although I would agree these definitions are rather narrow)? Such as, men don't have large mammory glands or wombs, things that inherently nurture a child's development. I think men in some biological sense are structured to take the hunt/gather role, even though social evolution has allowed this line to blur entirely.

Though I see writing as a rather sexless, observatory role. For my taste it needs to be about the human condition, and not section off either/any sex.

Someone correct me if I'm totally off about the biology.

Nope, you're not off at all, but sex isn't gender and gender isn't sex.

My 2-year-old has ovaries (probably) but likes trucks and airplanes and dinosaurs. I buy 99% of her clothes in the "boy" section as it would be a huge faux-pas to make pink t-shirts with airplanes on them, apparently. She likes what she likes, but she also likes things that sparkle. It's maddening that society dictates, from a *very* young age, what things are for boys and what things are for girls.

There's absolutely nothing biologically feminine about a flower or masculine about a dinosaur, but good damn luck finding a "boy" shirt with a flower on it, or a "girl" shirt with a t-rex.

Another great example: she was a monkey for Halloween. Just a regular little monkey, and EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. who saw her thought she was a boy. Because apparently brown monkey costumes are for boys. I did a lot of tongue-biting and smiling and nodding, I tell you what.

The default in Western society is Male. Lego are for boys, which is why they now have pink-boxed Lego for Girls. (http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Default.aspx)

The Lonely One
02-29-2012, 10:37 PM
Nope, you're not off at all, but sex isn't gender and gender isn't sex.

My 2-year-old has ovaries (probably) but likes trucks and airplanes and dinosaurs. I buy 99% of her clothes in the "boy" section as it would be a huge faux-pas to make pink t-shirts with airplanes on them, apparently. She likes what she likes, but she also likes things that sparkle. It's maddening that society dictates, from a *very* young age, what things are for boys and what things are for girls.

There's absolutely nothing biologically feminine about a flower or masculine about a dinosaur, but good damn luck finding a "boy" shirt with a flower on it, or a "girl" shirt with a t-rex.

Another great example: she was a monkey for Halloween. Just a regular little monkey, and EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. who saw her thought she was a boy. Because apparently brown monkey costumes are for boys. I did a lot of tongue-biting and smiling and nodding, I tell you what.

The default in Western society is Male. Lego are for boys, which is why they now have pink-boxed Lego for Girls. (http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Default.aspx)

Yeah, I think for me it was a hazy understanding of the distinction in terminology.

I see what you mean about sex/gender. And really how roles have evolved along with society and the needs/abilities of individuals.

willietheshakes
02-29-2012, 10:45 PM
What I am suggesting is that it is difficult to strike a balance with both genders in descritptions mannerism and beings. The only person capabel of doing so is someone who feels they are both.
This is just an opinion.


That's... wow.

That's possibly the most ludicrous and vaguely insulting thing I've seen on the internet today.

Little Ming
02-29-2012, 10:48 PM
My hysterical nature is due to my possession of ovaries. :D

I possess ovaries too. They are in a jar on the shelf.

Phaeal
02-29-2012, 10:49 PM
Anyone who would let an author's gender dictate his or her book choices would probably vote for Sanctum Santorum.

Just sayin'.

buz
02-29-2012, 10:54 PM
There's absolutely nothing biologically feminine about a flower or masculine about a dinosaur, but good damn luck finding a "boy" shirt with a flower on it, or a "girl" shirt with a t-rex.

Recently there was some bullshit "scientific" study about how girls really DO like pink and boys really DO like blue. This apparently consisted of asking hundreds of people their favorite colors, then making wild speculative assumptions: the researchers concluded that girls like pink crap because it reminds us of our berry-picking heritage. (Boys like blue because blue skies=good hunting weather.) (Because there are no blueberries or blackberries or strawberries and we ignore other fruit and we don't care what color the sky is when we go berry picking. We will go pick berries if there is a motherfucking volcanic eruption and the entire world is black. Because we have boobs and that's how we roll.)

An important reminder that not all science is actually science.

...I'm all grown up now and I still buy clothes from the "male section."

Polenth
02-29-2012, 10:57 PM
Well this is what the definition of androgyne says
An androgyne is a transgender individual who does not cleanly fit into binary male or female gender.

I would say that in my views there is no such a thing as having no gender.
What I am trying to say is someone who has both affinities, someone who has perfect symetry of a man and a woman, be it a man or a woman.
I am suggesting that humans have it both in them to feel feminin and masculin. There are people who are able to make that transition between feeling a man and then a woman and are perfectly happy in their body.
So this person in particular would have reached that harmony of reconciling both their feminin and masculin sides.
This person is then able to understand both genders better then someone who is not comfortable with their gender/body or is not yet aware that they need to find their opposite feelings.

What you're saying is very offensive on multiple levels. Androgynous people do exist (I am one and I know I'm not the only person who is on the forum). People who identify strongly with being at one end or the other of a gender binary are not wrong or have yet to find themselves. The 'ideal' gender and sex identity is one a person is comfortable with, not a standard set by someone else that people are forced into. The ideal will be different for each individual.

This comes across as you being unable to see people who live outside your own experiences. Which means you don't have the understanding of gender identity that you think you do.

kuwisdelu
02-29-2012, 11:18 PM
My hysterical nature is due to my possession of ovaries. :D

Mine too.

Also the whole puberty thing.

Lexxie
02-29-2012, 11:41 PM
Agreed. However, stripped of social context, aren't there biological traits which would suggest 'masculine' or 'feminine' in other ways (although I would agree these definitions are rather narrow)? Such as, men don't have large mammory glands or wombs, things that inherently nurture a child's development. I think men in some biological sense are structured to take the hunt/gather role, even though social evolution has allowed this line to blur entirely.

Though I see writing as a rather sexless, observatory role. For my taste it needs to be about the human condition, and not section off either/any sex.

Someone correct me if I'm totally off about the biology.

I would argue that if you are talking about biology, it would be better to use male and female instead of feminine of masculine :)

Cyia
03-01-2012, 12:00 AM
FYI -- qualifying an offensive post with "it's just an opinion" neither defuses the offensive nature of what was said nor makes it "simply" a discussion with two disagreeing sides.

There are people who identify male. There are people who identify female. There are people who identify as neither. Sometimes, the person who identifies male is biologically female, and vice versa.

^^^ These are biological facts, not opinions. Whether you agree or disagree is beside the point. You may be of the opinion that the sky is orange, but that doesn't mean every box of crayons won't prove you wrong.

I also question the sincerity of claiming such statements as opinions when coming from a poster who has chosen as his/her avatar the image of a carload of men dressed as women. In my opinion - you're intentionally baiting an argument.

BunnyMaz
03-01-2012, 12:04 AM
Recently there was some bullshit "scientific" study about how girls really DO like pink and boys really DO like blue. This apparently consisted of asking hundreds of people their favorite colors, then making wild speculative assumptions: the researchers concluded that girls like pink crap because it reminds us of our berry-picking heritage. (Boys like blue because blue skies=good hunting weather.) (Because there are no blueberries or blackberries or strawberries and we ignore other fruit and we don't care what color the sky is when we go berry picking. We will go pick berries if there is a motherfucking volcanic eruption and the entire world is black. Because we have boobs and that's how we roll.)

An important reminder that not all science is actually science.

...I'm all grown up now and I still buy clothes from the "male section."

I love studies like that. Especially when they ignore how incredibly recent an invention the pink-girl/blue-boy concept is.

Devil Ledbetter
03-01-2012, 12:05 AM
I don't see gender in writing, and I don't understand why someone would look for it in the first place.

Can you tell someone's gender by tasting the food they prepare? When a waiter delivers a meal, do you bite into it and just know what sort of genitals are between the chef's legs? More importantly, would you even care?

When you look at art, can you tell if it was done by a male or female? Do you view a drawing or painting differently based on what you think you know about the artist's gender? If so, why?

How about when you listen to a piece of music? Is there a difference between male and female pianists, for example, that you can hear and recognize?

If you look at a building, can you determine the gender of the archictect? Or the bricklayers?

Why would writing be any different? Seriously, I'm asking. How is gender relevant to writing?

virtue_summer
03-01-2012, 12:07 AM
This topic reminds me of this essay. (http://storytellersunplugged.com/bevvincent/2009/07/17/apparently-i-write-like-a-girl/) From the link:


Among the first comments this editor (and I do not know who he or she is) offered: “It’s quite a challenge for a writer of one sex to explore writing from the perspective of the opposite sex. Bev Vincent has not done a convincing job.” The protagonist in my story is a man.
I’ll sit here for a few seconds while that sinks in.
Me, the guy who’s pictured above, failed to do a convincing job of writing from the perspective of a man.

Monkey
03-01-2012, 12:44 AM
I love men so much I married one, and believe me, I understand him far better than I do most women. :D

The Naipaul test on page 2 of this thread is great. Seriously, if you think you can tell the difference between male and female writers, test that theory. Take the test. I got four out of ten.

As to writing from the POV of another gender...

How do people write from the POV of elves, aliens, or spirits? Or from the POV of someone living in an alternate universe, or in a futuristic world, or in the Victorian era? It would seem to me to be a FAR easier thing to write about people who actually exist, who you probably interact with on a daily basis, and who may be quite similar to yourself.

If you think you have little in common with people of the opposite gender, fine. Just write a (by society's standards) unusually "masculine" woman or "feminine" man. They can still be quite believable, because people are all over that spectrum. Most have a fair share of traits from the "opposite" gender.

If you were writing about me, for instance, I do have some "feminine" traits. I'm more petite than most men, I have boobs. I sometimes wear things that are kind of cutesy, like my favorite hat, which has huge green ears on top. You could also cast me as a nurturing person-- I will tend to virtually any living thing in need.

But I have a fair share of "masculine" traits, too. While I tend to the animals, I'm also the one who slaughters them. I love martial arts and archery, but my real obsession is parkour. I'd much rather spend my day working out than shopping. I tend to be straightforward to the point of being brash, and have a hard time backing down from a fight.

Then there are the gender-neutral characteristics. My favorite color is green. I'm outdoorsy. I enjoy riding horses. I've worked a nine-to-five and hated it. I can cook a basic meal and clean up after, but I don't get fancy about any of it. Seems like anyone could write those sorts of things, and they're valid characterization even though they aren't informed by gender roles.

I don't think a woman would have a hard time describing my more masculine traits or a man describing my feminine ones. Why would they? And while we're at it, is there anything other than stereotype and a prejudicial history determining which is which?

Beyond that, the list would be entirely different if created by others here, male or female, but I doubt any of us would fit "masculine" or "feminine" completely. If you can only write "masculine," you're leaving out a good portion of your characters' identities... even the male ones.

Susan Littlefield
03-01-2012, 01:37 AM
I can't tell gender from writing alone, but I make an assumption from the name (and possible picture) on the book cover. I could be wrong, though, and it doesn't even matter. Many men write under female pen names and vice versa. It's the writing that matters, not the gender.


I sometimes wonder whether us readers are able to tell a female from a male's book if pen names were available.
This brings me to thinking about the time when women were not allowed to publish their books on their ground of their gender .
Names such as George Eliot and Ellis Bell ring a bell.

Then these women writers got away with it which assumes that they were believed to be men and therefore women write in the exactly the same as men.

That's a pretty big assumption. ;) I don't believe your information about women not being able to publish is accurate.

Women were published during the time Mary Anne Evans published, but she wanted to be taken seriously. If you think about the life and times during the late 1800's, women were thought of as the lesser sex and were no often taken seriously outside of the home. I can't blame her. Now, it's a non-issue.

I'm not sure I understand why you are so interested in this subject matter. :)

Lyxdeslic
03-01-2012, 02:24 AM
IMO, I think what we have here is a valid and worthwhile topic, but misguidedly worded by a noob. Again, that's just how I see it.

As a male, I worry/try to remain "authentic" when writing in my female character's povs. And certainly there are glaring instances in novels where authors fail--where it sounds so inauthentic you just know. Do I look for it? No. But I recognize it when I see it.

My advice to the OP, don't focus on such things...in your work or others'. Focus on writing true. Period.

Lyx

KalenO
03-01-2012, 03:16 AM
The same thing happens to me.

When I wrote fanfic, my readers thought I was male. (A fair number thought I was male, and married, which I've yet to figure out.)

When I first started querying, I got responses addressed to "Mr. McQuein" and the best results /most requests came from men. :D

Cyia, this cracks me up because its the exact opposite with me. Everyone assumes I'm a woman, and my queries (which were usually about male protagonists) usually garnered requests to Ms. Kalen O'Donnell.

Stacia Kane
03-01-2012, 03:25 AM
People is people.




No.

Soylent Green is people.

Get it right, geez.

Mr Flibble
03-01-2012, 03:32 AM
I love studies like that. Especially when they ignore how incredibly recent an invention the pink-girl/blue-boy concept is.

In Victorian times, children were dressed in blue, pink, whatever, regardless of gender, or slightly later (early 1900s) pink was for boys (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7817496.stm)and blue for girls.


The Woman's Journal explained why: "That pink being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

When my son was small, he was often mistaken for a girl (still is, until he turns round and they see the tache!) because he a) had long hair and b) his fave colour was red but if it was unavailable he would go unerringly for the nearest - pink.

Little Ming
03-01-2012, 03:34 AM
I've had about the same amount of people assume I am female as male. So, I guess that means I'm in perfect symmetrical harmony with my binary gender and aware of the feelings of the opposite side because I am happy/comfortable in my body...

Or I'm just a terrible writer.

Lyxdeslic
03-01-2012, 05:38 AM
You know, the more I ponder what I see happening here, the more I loathe cliques, all-consuming ids, and superiority complexes.

Is this OP green, bull-headed, and chock full of unwarranted hubris? Unquestionably, yes. But she's here, something in her drives her to want to learn. To say she'll never get it is, well, fucked.

Fact: there's a shit ton of wisdom and writerly knowledge here. If you feel like offering it up, great. If the OP doesn't "get" it now, oh well. What's the point of coming back and obliterating her inferior ego because she's currently too ignorant?

Oy. I'm out. Forgive the rant.

Lyx

Cyia
03-01-2012, 05:41 AM
In Victorian times, children were dressed in blue, pink, whatever, regardless of gender, or slightly later (early 1900s) pink was for boys (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7817496.stm)and blue for girls.

Wasn't blue also the traditional "virginal" bride's color until Queen Victoria's white wedding?

Mr Flibble
03-01-2012, 06:08 AM
You know, the more I ponder what I see happening here, the more I loathe cliques, all-consuming ids, and superiority complexes.

cliques? perhaps - happen everywhere. Superiority complexes - no. The OP has started very many threads that are for axaplme, not questions in a question forum. OP's use of language makes it tougt to edcide what the ost is about - that's fine, english is not everyone's first language.

OP makes a few statements that , may or may not have carried the meaning they intended.


But this is a writers forum and people will call them on that

OP has also made several, um, not-logical assertations. People will call them on that too.

FWIW, the OP has a great enthusiasm for writing which I love to see. But the OP might also benefit from the MUCHO MUCHO advice they have received over these many threads (and then ten minutes later they start another thread). Yet appears not to want to take that advice - that appearance may be not intended (i think it's probably a part of teh ESL myself). But it is there. Much experienced advice has been given - and it seems not taken in.




Fact: there's a shit ton of wisdom and writerly knowledge here. If you feel like offering it up, great. If the OP doesn't "get" it now, oh well. What's the point of coming back and obliterating her inferior ego because she's currently too ignorant?

Oy. I'm out. Forgive the rant.

Lyx

I do think we should cut the OP some slack - but as has been said in several threads more or less - the OP has to a) cut us some slack and b) couch their questions in as good a manner as they can, and respond same. Cat's questions/replies can be frustrating. But hell we're all frustrating at times.

I do love that Cat is taking everything in good humour (as far as I have seen) Good stuff, Cat. I not love that people string her along in fallacies.

Lyxdeslic
03-01-2012, 06:16 AM
Fiar enugho, ma'am. I've awlays repsected yuor psots; your last one sldofies that repsect. :D

Lyx

HoneyBadger
03-01-2012, 06:39 AM
Fiar enugho, ma'am. I've awlays repsected yuor psots; your last one sldofies that repsect. :D

Lyx


Great news, everyone.

I've gone insane.

Lyxdeslic
03-01-2012, 06:47 AM
Welcome to the club, though I suggest avoiding those pesky poo-flingers. We dandelion-eating, sunshine-worshiping folk are a cool bunch however. See, even us crazy bastards have our cliques.

Lyx

Unimportant
03-01-2012, 07:04 AM
The OP's question seems to me to have several parts to it:

Do women and men write about different topics? Do women write about things that are of concern to women, and men write about things that are of concern to men? (My opinion: sometimes, but not enough to generalise. As an example, the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" books are so incredibly feminist, and deal so heavily with women's problem of being controlled by men -- yet were written by a man.)

Do men and women write in different genres? For example, do women write romance and men write thrillers? (Again, IMO, sometimes, but not enough to generalise.)

Do men and women have different prose styles, vocabularies, sentence lengths, etc, that differentiate them? (I've not run across anything like that in my reading.)

Do men write believable male but not believable female characters, and do women write believable female but not believable male characters? (Yet again, IMO, sometimes, but not enough to generalise; it's a good-writing versus poor-writing thing, and a learning-to-write-the-other craft thing, not a gender/biological sex thing.)

I reckon that I, and perhaps many readers, sometimes make unconscious gender-based assumptions and then project them onto my judgement of a book, based on author name, author photo, genre, story content, characters, and quality of writing. But I don't know if, in the long run, those assumptions have any bearing on my book-buying habits.

catian
03-01-2012, 06:51 PM
In Victorian times, children were dressed in blue, pink, whatever, regardless of gender, or slightly later (early 1900s) pink was for boys (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7817496.stm)and blue for girls.



[QUOTE]
When my son was small, he was often mistaken for a girl (still is, until he turns round and they see the tache!) because he a) had long hair and b) his fave colour was red but if it was unavailable he would go unerringly for the nearest - pink.

Geez that's so weird IdiotsRUs.
My little boy is often mistaken for a girl,because
a) he has long hair b) he likes all colours (although he does say his favourite colour is red too) c) he has a pretty face.
He still gets annoyed at school about it but that's onlybecause of his long hair.
I smiled when I read your post:)

catian
03-01-2012, 07:02 PM
I can't tell gender from writing alone, but I make an assumption from the name (and possible picture) on the book cover. I could be wrong, though, and it doesn't even matter. Many men write under female pen names and vice versa. It's the writing that matters, not the gender.



That's a pretty big assumption. ;) I don't believe your information about women not being able to publish is accurate.

Women were published during the time Mary Anne Evans published, but she wanted to be taken seriously. If you think about the life and times during the late 1800's, women were thought of as the lesser sex and were no often taken seriously outside of the home. I can't blame her. Now, it's a non-issue.



I'm not sure I understand why you are so interested in this subject matter. :)

Hi susan.
The reason why I aske is because I am not a man and I just wanted to know the differences.

Jehhillenberg
03-01-2012, 07:35 PM
The same thing happens to me.

When I wrote fanfic, my readers thought I was male. (A fair number thought I was male, and married, which I've yet to figure out.)

When I first started querying, I got responses addressed to "Mr. McQuein" ...

Yah...this is (has) happening to me. Though I'm not using my complete given first name but its diminutive would indicate I'm female. I think. "Mr..."


But on here, my avi's been consistent so it would clue people in. :D

Susan Littlefield
03-01-2012, 07:41 PM
Catian,

I got a bit lost in your answer above, because it's kind of all over the place. Perhaps my question should have been why does it make a difference whether an author is male or female. Gender has zero to do with the quality of the writing.

catian
03-01-2012, 08:47 PM
Catian,

I got a bit lost in your answer above, because it's kind of all over the place. Perhaps my question should have been why does it make a difference whether an author is male or female. Gender has zero to do with the quality of the writing.
Hi Susan.
Apologies about the answer above. I have made it very short now.
Ok let me try this again.
It does not matter wether the author is a man or a woman at all.
What matters is being able to understand the writer behind the story.
If I am able to tell the difference between a man and a woman's writer then I am able the differences that make them who they are.
A book is like a mirror you can actuallysee through the story and also read between the lines.
One can discover lots about the person who wrote the story.
It is importan to learn to understand literature beyond the story.
There are a lots of similarites between a man and a woman as well many affinities between them.
One of the best ways to tell what these are os to study the work of a writer.
Psychology through writing is the one the best psychologies to be had.
I hope this is not too confusing.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2012, 08:54 PM
Psychology through writing is the one the best psychologies to be had.

I disagree, and I think it's a dangerous thing to assume.

Cyia
03-01-2012, 09:04 PM
*le sigh*


Hi Susan.

It does not matter wether the author is a man or a woman at all. Yet, you seem to think it does.
What matters is being able to understand the writer behind the story. Why
If I am able to tell the difference between a man and a woman's writer then I am able the differences that make them who they are. No you're not. Even if you're able to determine gender or sex or both through a person's writing, it in no way tells you what makes them who they are. A person is made through the sum of their life experiences added to their environmental ones. It's not going to fit "between the lines" of a novel.
A book is like a mirror you can actuallysee through the story and also read between the lines. No it's not.
One can discover lots about the person who wrote the story. Not really. If most people knew who Raold Dahl was, beyond the chocolate factories and giant peaches, they would have detested him.**
It is importan to learn to understand literature beyond the story. Only if what you think you know was the author's actual intent. Entire English Lit classes are dedicated to bogus "literary devices" buried in classics.
There are a lots of similarites between a man and a woman as well many affinities between them. I don't think this means what you think it means.
One of the best ways to tell what these are os to study the work of a writer.No it's not.
Psychology through writing is the one the best psychologies to be had.No - it's REALLY not.
I hope this is not too confusing. Confusing, no. Accurate, also no.

** Link to editor's dismissal of Dahl ** (http://boingboing.net/2011/06/07/roald-dahl-kind-of-a.html)

catian
03-01-2012, 09:25 PM
I disagree, and I think it's a dangerous thing to assume.
why is it dangerous?
I recently reread the Lord of the Flies.
I have to say the first time I read it it had a kind shocking effect on me and in a bad way.
Few years later, which is recently, I reread it under a new light and what I saw in it was just a mind changing experience.
Books are very personal to the writer, they are personal to those who read them.
A book is like a painting what you see on the surface is just makeup on canvas,once you learn to go beyond what you is in front of you, then you are able what is underneath the canvas.
It is a personal experience and Lord of the Flies had a real eye opening effect on me.

Bubastes
03-01-2012, 09:31 PM
So, in view of your theory, what do you think you know about William Golding after reading Lord of the Flies?

Cyia
03-01-2012, 09:37 PM
SOME Books are very personal to the writer, they are personal to those who read them.


Fixed it for you.



Some books are important to the writer.
Some books are business.
Some books are collaborations with 2,3 or more authors behind them.
Some books are ghostwritten, with one name on the cover and a different author at the keyboard.
Some books are branded.
Some books are required to pay the rent and due next Tuesday, so OMG I'd better get to writing.

catian
03-01-2012, 09:37 PM
Cyia

It is important for psychology purposes.
Humans are made of feelings and need to be understood .
It is human nature to communicate how they feel and one the best way they do it when all else fail for them to express their anxities,emotions , is write about it, around it or because of it.

catian
03-01-2012, 09:42 PM
So, in view of your theory, what do you think you know about William Golding after reading Lord of the Flies?
If I told you what I thought of it then I most likely to cause maybe arguments and I do not feel it is right to do so.
What I can say is that for example in his opening to his first chapter the way he engages in descriptions and words made me see something else.

catian
03-01-2012, 09:50 PM
Fixed it for you.



Some books are important to the writer.
Some books are business.
Some books are collaborations with 2,3 or more authors behind them.
Some books are ghostwritten, with one name on the cover and a different author at the keyboard.
Some books are branded.
Some books are required to pay the rent and due next Tuesday, so OMG I'd better get to writing.

Hey Cyia thank you for the correction.:D
LOL I agree about the rent but not sure about the ghostwritten bit.:)

Bubastes
03-01-2012, 09:53 PM
What is there to not be sure about? Some books are ghostwritten.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2012, 10:03 PM
why is it dangerous?

Because I don't want to get locked up for writing something like Lolita or thrown in a mental institution if someone decides my description of a dissociative character is just a little too realistic.


It is important for psychology purposes.

No.


Humans are made of feelings and need to be understood .
It is human nature to communicate how they feel and one the best way they do it when all else fail for them to express their anxities,emotions , is write about it, around it or because of it.

Yes. That does not mean books should be used as tools to psychoanalyze the author.

amrose
03-02-2012, 01:39 AM
That does not mean books should be used as tools to psychoanalyze the author.

I'm of the opinion that any assumptions made about an author from their work speaks volumes about the reader and very little about the author.

An author "speaks" to me through their work, yes, but I'm not seeing them. If it's an effective book, I get to see me a little better.

HoneyBadger
03-02-2012, 02:09 AM
If a reader spends any amount of time pondering why I wrote this scene or that scene or this bit of dialogue then I think I've done a pretty shitty job in writing.

Good writing makes you examine yourself, not the author.

iRock
03-02-2012, 02:22 AM
It is human nature to communicate how they feel and one the best way they do it when all else fail for them to express their anxities,emotions , is write about it, around it or because of it.

Lots of writers, including me, write to tell the stories of others, not to communicate their own feelings.

There's very little of my anxieties and emotions in my work. When you read one of my books, I don't want you to know me, I want you to know my characters - who aren't, you know, me.

For me writing is all about storytelling, not therapy.

Mr Flibble
03-02-2012, 02:34 AM
Thing is, when I'm writing at my best, I am putting part of myself onto paper. No two ways about that (ETA: I don't mean writing with a message or trying to communicate my own feelings or anything like that. I mean...leakage of me)

So, I think maybe people can see a part of me in my stuff--it;s all part of the thing where you can tell who wrote something - their way of looking at it, the themes they choose, what they write, how they write, the slant that is uniquely theirs.

I don't think it's obvious. I don't think people will think I am my characters, and I don't think other writers are their characters. And I don't think you can tell just from reading about one set of characters a writer has created but....

Over a career, I think people will be able to see a part of me. Maybe they'll see that for what it really is, or maybe they'll get it wrong. *shrug* But part of me is in everything I write, because no matter my characters, it is me writing it and that is bound to leak through somehow. This doesn't mean that I am the same as a man-hating shrew character of mine, or the same as an atheist character of mine - I am not my characters. But my worldview WILL colour what I write. It can't not, because it is part of me and being me is part of how I write. I am mining my own personal experience of what it is to be a person. The trend, the parts of me through my books as a whole, will add up to a vague picture.

Who I am is part of my voice as a writer. If I was another person, with a different worldview, I wouldn't write the way I do, or what I do. If this is true, then how can people not pick up on that?

I am aware this isn't a very common/popular view. It may not be true for any other writer than me. But it is true of me.

Anne Lyle
03-02-2012, 02:47 AM
I think that's a fair summary of many writers. Is it even possible to write well without giving away a little of yourself?

Mr Flibble
03-02-2012, 02:52 AM
I think that's a fair summary of many writers. Is it even possible to write well without giving away a little of yourself?


Well exactly!

But then for people to say you can tell nothing from what is written...


You can't have it both ways. Either you are putting yourself on that paper, and people can (rightly or wrongly) see things in that, or you don't and they can't.

Anne Lyle
03-02-2012, 02:58 AM
I think you can't read too much into fiction from an individual work, because the writer might be trying for a particular effect - but if a trend is visible over a number of works, it suggests that the topic is one that exercises the writer's mind, on a subconscious level if nothing else.

Unimportant
03-02-2012, 02:59 AM
What matters is being able to understand the writer behind the story.
If I am able to tell the difference between a man and a woman's writer then I am able the differences that make them who they are.
A book is like a mirror you can actuallysee through the story and also read between the lines.
One can discover lots about the person who wrote the story.


I'm afraid I don't agree with you at all, Catian.

I rarely care two figs about understanding the writer. The story is meant to entertain. The author is irrelevant to me. There are a few authors I will actively seek out because I think they're awesome people, and there are a few authors I will not read even if their books are good because I think they're repellent people, but they are a very tiny minority among the authors whose works I read.

IMO, if you can tell who the author is from reading their novels, then they're pretty crappy writers. The narrator of a novel, whether it's a first person POV character, a third person POV character, or an external narrator, should be designed so as to best tell the story in a believable and compelling manner. Every word, every nuance, should be coming through the point of view of the character/narrator. The author should not intrude or come between the narrator and the author.

If you can see the author through the character, then the author is really only capable of writing a single character: herself disguised as a Mary-Sue protagonist. That's going to severely limit her fiction output.

latourdumoine
03-02-2012, 03:01 AM
That does not mean books should be used as tools to psychoanalyze the author.
This reminded me of a YA novel I read (I'm trying to find the title again). The MC, this really feisty girl named MacKenzie and her crush had to write a personal essay for English class. The guy's still trying to work it out, and meanwhile she's written this essay that tugs at everyone's heartstrings, how she learned about life when her dog died, what her parents said, how she felt. She aces it, and her crush goes, "Mac, you never had a dog." She looks at him shrugs, and replies with, "so? Or English teacher doesn't know."

I still remember that and I read that over twenty years ago!



Lots of writers, including me, write to tell the stories of others, not to communicate their own feelings.

There's very little of my anxieties and emotions in my work. When you read one of my books, I don't want you to know me, I want you to know my characters - who aren't, you know, me.

For me writing is all about storytelling, not therapy.
Well, every time I tried "writing as therapy", just to see how it came out, it was a disaster.

And then there are those times when you produce something people swear could only be from your own experience, and it was you just wanting to tell a story, or playing around with something. When I was doing Creative Writing this girl on our course was writing amazing stories. She said that one of them got her the reaction of, "this is your coming out story, isn't it?" When in reality, as she put it, "it came from realizing that I had to hand something in for class and I only had twenty minutes."

CrastersBabies
03-02-2012, 03:13 AM
I think to say that there is no "general" difference between male and female writers is a bit naive. But, there will always be exceptions. Always. And there will also be overlapping and areas of gray.

You give me a pile of stories written by 1st year creative writing students and remove the names and I can guess with a 99% certainty (I'd say 100% but yeah, giving myself that 1% wiggle room) who is male and who is female. I'm basing this on topic, word choice, conflict type (internal versus external), and other factors.

But, at that level it's usually:

girls write urban fantasy or boyfriend/girlfriend stuff
boys write about zombies, war, gunfights, androids, monkeys

It's like being in preschool all over again, I kid you not. The girls who TRY to write like boys have tells at this level.

If I didn't think there was a difference, I wouldn't be sitting here pounding out all of this bunk. Seriously.

Even in my MFA program, the women wrote about a female's internal conflict and the men wrote about drugs and dead dogs and hunting. It was more difficult to tell them apart, sure, but still some differences. BUT, this was a smaller pool (18 people). I know this doesn't identify the "norm" out there. Or maybe it does. Hmmmm.....

In any case, if the gender of the writer is obvious in a way that DISTRACTS me from the story, I'm going to lose interest. If it's something that I forget after a sentence or two, then great!

GRRM is a great writer, but I don't think he's known for HOW he writes his female characters. I can read a chapter from Dany's POV and think, "yeah, this is totally a dude writing this," but it appears and disappears and I'm done thinking about it. If I obsessed with it (like I did with Robert Jordan), then we have a problem.

There's another part of this as well. If I write like a woman, why is that so bad anyway? I'm down with that. As a woman, I prefer reading romance and erotica written by women. Just a preference. I like having that gender-identification intrusion. I don't know why. Maybe for the same reason I like a female gynecologist.

But, anyway, I think this is a very interesting topic. I like some of the points I've read. This is one of those topics where I'm open to having my mind changed, ya know? I like reading what other people say.

Mr Flibble
03-02-2012, 04:47 AM
"Mac, you never had a dog." She looks at him shrugs, and replies with, "so? Or English teacher doesn't know."

I still remember that and I read that over twenty years ago!


whether you had a dog ( or just made shit up) is irrelevant. I make shit up - but the shit I make up is part of me. how I write/approach the story will be different.

It's how you bring your experience/worldview/how you imagine that character is the thing. I wil imagine him/her differently from you because we are not the same and it shows.Not in a bad way - in a different way. Not in one book,perhaps,bit over many



Well, every time I tried "writing as therapy", just to see how it came out, it was a disaster. I ain;t talking about therapy. I;m talking about being me affects how/why/what I write.


And then there are those times when you produce something people swear could only be from your own experience, and it was you just wanting to tell a story, or playing around with something. Yet ot al comes from you. Your brain, your experience. If it is so generic we can't tell it's you--it;s (can be)bland.



The view you give me is part of the story, part of the looking through another view. It may be another author's view on a view...bit still the author in there.

If i knock something off in 20 minutes, it is still a part of me, still an extrapolation of who i am, the slant I have on the world. I may never have owned a dog but this is one representation of a person who has, and it is my interpretation of who that person is.

Little Ming
03-02-2012, 04:59 AM
I subscribe to the Death of the Author philosophy.

Short: My sex, gender, sexual preference, age, marital status, religion, politics, education, ethnicity, nationality, economic status, social status, location, etc., has absolutely no bearing on how a reader should interpret my works.

Long: See Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_the_Author) and TVTropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeathOfTheAuthor).

cbenoi1
03-02-2012, 05:00 AM
> It is important for psychology purposes.

Fiction writers write a bunch of lies. That doesn't make them compulsive liars.

> Some books are collaborations with 2,3 or more authors behind them.
> Some books are ghostwritten, with one name on the cover and a different author at the keyboard.

Oh boy. Good luck psychoanalyzing those.


-cb

Mr Flibble
03-02-2012, 05:07 AM
I subscribe to the Death of the Author philosophy.

Short: My sex, gender, sexual preference, age, marital status, religion, politics, education, ethnicity, nationality, economic status, social status, location, etc., has absolutely no bearing on how a reader should interpret my works.

Long: See Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_the_Author) and TVTropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeathOfTheAuthor).


How a reader interprets it is (somewhat) separate from the notion that you are there, on the damn page. They interpret things maybe differently to how you are - it goes with the game.

And if over ten novels, all your women are madonnas, shrews or whores. I WILL call you on it. Because in a novel or two it may be necessary. But in every novel you write? That is telling me a lot.

In one novel, it may not be apparent because we are not our characters

Over a body of work - let's just say a tone (your slant on things) may (note emphasis) become apparent. It has with me. But I am not all writers.

Little Ming
03-02-2012, 05:28 AM
How a reader interprets it is (somewhat) separate from the notion that you are there, on the damn page.

In some cases, yes. But I disagree that this is a universal truth for all writers. I've defended positions IRL that I vehemently disagree with. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes not. It comes with the day job.

So I disagree that all (note emphasis) writers automatically put themselves on the page when they write.



They interpret things maybe differently to how you are - it goes with the game.

I agree. And it should be that way. How a reader interprets my work shouldn't be influenced by my biography. If they interpret it completely different from the way I intended it, then that just means I failed to get my message across (assuming I had a message). Showing them my biography does not change that.

kuwisdelu
03-02-2012, 05:29 AM
Thing is, when I'm writing at my best, I am putting part of myself onto paper. No two ways about that (ETA: I don't mean writing with a message or trying to communicate my own feelings or anything like that. I mean...leakage of me)

So, I think maybe people can see a part of me in my stuff--it;s all part of the thing where you can tell who wrote something - their way of looking at it, the themes they choose, what they write, how they write, the slant that is uniquely theirs.

I don't think it's obvious. I don't think people will think I am my characters, and I don't think other writers are their characters. And I don't think you can tell just from reading about one set of characters a writer has created but....

Over a career, I think people will be able to see a part of me. Maybe they'll see that for what it really is, or maybe they'll get it wrong. *shrug* But part of me is in everything I write, because no matter my characters, it is me writing it and that is bound to leak through somehow. This doesn't mean that I am the same as a man-hating shrew character of mine, or the same as an atheist character of mine - I am not my characters. But my worldview WILL colour what I write. It can't not, because it is part of me and being me is part of how I write. I am mining my own personal experience of what it is to be a person. The trend, the parts of me through my books as a whole, will add up to a vague picture.

Who I am is part of my voice as a writer. If I was another person, with a different worldview, I wouldn't write the way I do, or what I do. If this is true, then how can people not pick up on that?

I am aware this isn't a very common/popular view. It may not be true for any other writer than me. But it is true of me.

I don't deny that we as writers pour a huge amount of ourselves into our work. In fact, I absolutely agree. I'm of the "open a vein" school when I write. Who I am is in my writing. I am raw and naked on the page.

BUT. That's not all that is on the page, and not all of me is there. Trying to reliably psychoanalyze an author based on his or her writing is akin to the problem of the three blind men describing an elephant. It's like trying to figure out how a magician has performed his or her trick when all you've seen is the illusion. What you see and what you touch may be real. What you read on the page may be me. But trying to reconstruct my psyche based only on my fiction is an exercise in Plato's cave. It's possible to construct truths. But it's also too easy to conjure up interpretations that are entirely false.

I think it can be a fun, harmless activity if we recognize these limitations. But pretending prose is a reliable tool to psychoanalyze a person, which is what it sounds like to me catian was saying, is a dangerous thing.

DancingMaenid
03-02-2012, 05:50 AM
The Naipaul test on page 2 of this thread is great. Seriously, if you think you can tell the difference between male and female writers, test that theory. Take the test. I got four out of ten.

To be honest, I looked at the test but didn't take it. I knew that anything I got right would be down to chance.

The idea that your writing reflects your gender, or that people can tell things like that about you from your writing, has always caused me some anxiety. I'm trans/genderqueer identified. I see myself mostly as a guy.

But do I write "like a guy"? Who knows? What does it mean to have a masculine voice or style? And if I lack that, what does that say about me? What will people think that says about me?

I think there are more important things to worry about. I have my voice. And if that happens to be feminine or masculine or whatever, what should it matter? I don't think I could consider myself a feminist if I believed there was anything wrong with a man having a feminine style.

kuwisdelu
03-02-2012, 05:52 AM
Without cultural context, "masculine" and "feminine" don't really mean much of anything.

KTC
03-02-2012, 06:55 AM
Without cultural context, "masculine" and "feminine" don't really mean much of anything.

I agree.

robjvargas
03-02-2012, 07:12 AM
Good writers break molds.

But that doesn't mean that the molds don't exist.

Men and women *do* tend towards different thought patterns, and that can show up in writing. But then we have editors, multiple drafts, and we challenge ourselves to think outside our standard methods.

Men have published under female pseudonyms with readers none the wiser. I think for the first ten years that read her works, I thought Andre Norton was a man.

I don't think differences between men and women are bad. I LOVE the feminine mind. But there's no reason to even consider this when reading literature.

CrastersBabies
03-02-2012, 07:19 AM
Good writers break molds.

But that doesn't mean that the molds don't exist.

Men and women *do* tend towards different thought patterns, and that can show up in writing. But then we have editors, multiple drafts, and we challenge ourselves to think outside our standard methods.

Men have published under female pseudonyms with readers none the wiser. I think for the first ten years that read her works, I thought Andre Norton was a man.

I don't think differences between men and women are bad. I LOVE the feminine mind. But there's no reason to even consider this when reading literature.

Great post. That is all. :D

DancingMaenid
03-02-2012, 08:31 AM
Without cultural context, "masculine" and "feminine" don't really mean much of anything.

Indeed. And beside "masculine" or "feminine", I have a hard time seeing what sense someone could get from a piece of writing. Maybe that the author can portray male or female characters very well, I guess, though that doesn't always mean that the author shares their character's gender.

Susan Littlefield
03-02-2012, 09:05 AM
Catian,

Might I suggest that, when you read a book, you are projecting who you want a writer to be based on your own "stuff" rather than seeing their true essence. After all, just because someone writes about murder, rape, or dancing, does not make him a murderer, rapist or dancer. It just means it's the subject matter the author has chosen to write.

When we make assumptions about authors, it is our stuff and nobody else's. Individuals write differently based upon style, life experiences, imaginations, and a number of factors, minus gender. What we get out of the story, or think of the author, comes from within us only.

It's important to write realistic characters and to put them in situations where they have to work for the end role. Think of it this way. We write about people, places, and things outside of or immediate experience, sometimes including gory, gruesome, horrific situations that give our readers nightmares. We write about past eras and future worlds. If I get pulled in, I learn the author has done her or his job and I buy more of this author's books.

Writing is not who we are, but something we do. Period. Whether an author is female or male has nothing to do with the quality of their writing.

Mr Flibble
03-02-2012, 02:28 PM
But pretending prose is a reliable tool to psychoanalyze a person, which is what it sounds like to me catian was saying, is a dangerous thing.

Yes, I agree with you there - it's no way reliable, and it depends a lot on who is doing the interpreting. I don't think you can psychoanalyse a writer. I just think you can see part of them - an impression

It's just the 'no one can tell anything about me from what I write' seems...a little too rigid if we allow that many writers (not all) put themselves on the page.

I can't tell if someone is male or female because I know so many women who think in a more 'masculine' way, and vice versa, so it'd only be a guess. There's too much crossover. But, over the course of a body of work, there will be an impression - it might only be that I think I can tell their sense of humour, but it will be something.

Stacia Kane
03-02-2012, 03:33 PM
I agree that there's a lot of me in my work/I put a lot of myself into it. I think a reader could make some correct assumptions about me from it, sure.

I just also think they could make some incorrect assumptions, too. And I think that gender is a meaningless assumption to make. I don't write to express my gender. I write to express my soul and my personal truth. Knowing my gender tells you nothing about my work. Interpreting/understanding the truths and emotions and points I'm trying to express does tell you something about my work.

Gender is facile. It's not deep and it's not particularly meaningful; if all you're focusing on is my gender or all you're getting from my work is my gender, then one of us has failed.

Mr Flibble
03-02-2012, 03:54 PM
I just also think they could make some incorrect assumptions, too.

Oh of course -it depends on who's doing the assuming and their own viewpoints etc. But to say (generic) you can infer nothing....


And I think that gender is a meaningless assumption to make. I don't write to express my gender. I write to express my soul and my personal truth. Knowing my gender tells you nothing about my work. Interpreting/understanding the truths and emotions and points I'm trying to express does tell you something about my work.

Exactly!

ios
03-03-2012, 12:41 AM
Picky notes:

If you are talking about Jane Austen (not Austin) she lived in the Regency era, not the Victorian. Victoria started her reign in 1837. Austen died in 1817.

Also, she did not try to hide her gender but her name. A handy link and quote: "In 1811, at the age of 35, Austen published Sense and Sensibility, which identified the author as 'a Lady.'" (http://www.jasna.org/info/about_austen.html)

Jodi

ios
03-03-2012, 12:51 AM
Us of the female variety can be just as gory, violent and dark as our male counterparts.

Definitely so. I used to write quite dark and violent stories. Nowadays, I don't, but I go in phases anyway.

Jodi
(a female of unspecified age :D)

ios
03-03-2012, 01:19 AM
There's absolutely nothing biologically feminine about a flower or masculine about a dinosaur, but good damn luck finding a "boy" shirt with a flower on it, or a "girl" shirt with a t-rex.

I understand how frustrating it can be. I loved dinosaurs as a kid, and I played with them all the time. (I'm of the feminine persuasion, by the way.)

However, I also see a point to the having children's clothing being masculine or feminine, namely that as a non-mother, I have difficulties telling what gender a young child is. I don't like to offend people by saying, "Cute boy," and the mother snapping back, "She's a girl. Can't you tell?" Uhm, no.

Jodi

ios
03-03-2012, 01:26 AM
In Victorian times, children were dressed in blue, pink, whatever, regardless of gender, or slightly later (early 1900s) pink was for boys (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7817496.stm)and blue for girls.

Heck, they even wore the same thing girl children did for a while. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeching_%28boys%29 (Er, correction, the link didn't indicate Victorians, but earlier eras, but my folks still remember how when they were young, boys wore a "dress" for a few years as infants)

Jodi

HoneyBadger
03-03-2012, 02:01 AM
I understand how frustrating it can be. I loved dinosaurs as a kid, and I played with them all the time. (I'm of the feminine persuasion, by the way.)

However, I also see a point to the having children's clothing being masculine or feminine, namely that as a non-mother, I have difficulties telling what gender a young child is. I don't like to offend people by saying, "Cute boy," and the mother snapping back, "She's a girl. Can't you tell?" Uhm, no.

Jodi

A child's genitals/gender have no bearing on how you should relate to them. (I do not in any way mean this abrasively towards you.) It's a great chance for everyone to examine their own cultural biases and think about ways to communicate in a Person-First (ug, I hate myself a little for writing that) way.

(That said, my girls both get "he" and "boy" a lot because they wear whatever the hell I put them in which involves very small amounts of pink/purple, and I don't care at all. I don't bother correcting people because at 26 and 5 months, it just doesn't matter. Parents that freak out about that stuff drive me up a wall.)

"Cute kid" is always a safe bet. "Hey, buddy!" works for all kids. "Wow, you're strong/fast/smart/funny/kind/charming" is a sure winner.

eyeblink
03-03-2012, 03:07 PM
But I ain't telling any of you what it is :D

Do you get to make up a biography? Here goes...

"Dick Thrust lives in Sussex with his wife and two children and this is his first novel. He likes expensive champagne, rock climbing, fast cars and has three mistresses and an escalating cocaine habit."

catian
03-03-2012, 05:49 PM
Catian,

Might I suggest that, when you read a book, you are projecting who you want a writer to be based on your own "stuff" rather than seeing their true essence. After all, just because someone writes about murder, rape, or dancing, does not make him a murderer, rapist or dancer. It just means it's the subject matter the author has chosen to write.

When we make assumptions about authors, it is our stuff and nobody else's. Individuals write differently based upon style, life experiences, imaginations, and a number of factors, minus gender. What we get out of the story, or think of the author, comes from within us only.

It's important to write realistic characters and to put them in situations where they have to work for the end role. Think of it this way. We write about people, places, and things outside of or immediate experience, sometimes including gory, gruesome, horrific situations that give our readers nightmares. We write about past eras and future worlds. If I get pulled in, I learn the author has done her or his job and I buy more of this author's books.

Writing is not who we are, but something we do. Period. Whether an author is female or male has nothing to do with the quality of their writing.
The point I am trying to make is not about who does better in writing.
The idea I am trying to reach out is this
There is a fine line between everything and so there is a fine line between a woman writer and a man writer.
It important to be able to tell the difference in order to reach an understanding of how people/humans work/function/are in order to bridge these differences and get on even better.
Most of our difficulties we experience in life, relationships or with people in general stem from the fact that we do not understand who we are and what makes us tick/ different from each other.
I am suggesting maybe a way of getting to understand each other is to analyse writing from both sexes in order to learn to about men and women.
There are going to be many similarites as well as differences.
I am not saying you are to do it, analyse it.
I am saying some readers like me are interested in reading between the lines/seeking understanding via in books of both sexes/gender/age/race.
Writing is one the best way of telling what is enlocked in people's mind, in so many ways then not, the way a story is written gives out a lot of clues about our inner psychic/self/feelings and so on.
If you take a child drawing for exampke you can tell a lot about what within that child's mind and feelings.
Writing is exactly the same.

Susan Littlefield
03-03-2012, 07:56 PM
The point I am trying to make is not about who does better in writing.
The idea I am trying to reach out is this
There is a fine line between everything and so there is a fine line between a woman writer and a man writer.

Thank you for the clarification. Could it be more the differences between how people write based on life experience rather than their gender?

What is this "fine line" then?


It important to be able to tell the difference in order to reach an understanding of how people/humans work/function/are in order to bridge these differences and get on even better.

The difference in gender?

Differences don't arise from gender, they arise from life experience and how we handle it. Some people claim no gender.


Most of our difficulties we experience in life, relationships or with people in general stem from the fact that we do not understand who we are and what makes us tick/ different from each other.

Maybe, maybe not. I understand myself and know me. I also understand who my partner is and what he is about. Still, we have difficulties in our relationship, which is most likely due to our own "stuff" having nothing to do with gender.


I am suggesting maybe a way of getting to understand each other is to analyse writing from both sexes in order to learn to about men and women.

I respect your belief, but I don't agree. You understand each other by relating on a real-life basis. You get involved and share lives with each other, people-watch, and make yourself available to other available people. Forget gender, it has little to do with anything.


There are going to be many similarites as well as differences.

There are always differences in people.


I am not saying you are to do it, analyse it.

I don't think I could it I tried. ;)


I am saying some readers like me are interested in reading between the lines/seeking understanding via in books of both sexes/gender/age/race.

Okay, but not my cup of tea. When I read, I read for story, content, and many other things, not to analyze sexes, gender, age, or race. It does not make sense to me to do so.


Writing is one the best way of telling what is enlocked in people's mind, in so many ways then not, the way a story is written gives out a lot of clues about our inner psychic/self/feelings and so on.

We are not our stories, we are writers. As Stacia mentioned above, there is some of us in our stories. In my opinion, trying to analyze someone's gender or any of their personal attributes based on the story they write, is a free ride to the land of assumptions.


If you take a child drawing for exampke you can tell a lot about what within that child's mind and feelings.
Writing is exactly the same.

I agree, children's drawings do tell a lot about what is in their minds, but I don't think it's the same as writing. Often, children put their feelings and thoughts into pictures as a form of expression. Unless a book is non-fiction or memoir, the writing is a novel, which makes it fiction.

jaksen
03-03-2012, 07:57 PM
Catian,

Might I suggest that, when you read a book, you are projecting who you want a writer to be based on your own "stuff" rather than seeing their true essence. After all, just because someone writes about murder, rape, or dancing, does not make him a murderer, rapist or dancer. It just means it's the subject matter the author has chosen to write.

When we make assumptions about authors, it is our stuff and nobody else's. Individuals write differently based upon style, life experiences, imaginations, and a number of factors, minus gender. What we get out of the story, or think of the author, comes from within us only.

It's important to write realistic characters and to put them in situations where they have to work for the end role. Think of it this way. We write about people, places, and things outside of or immediate experience, sometimes including gory, gruesome, horrific situations that give our readers nightmares. We write about past eras and future worlds. If I get pulled in, I learn the author has done her or his job and I buy more of this author's books.

Writing is not who we are, but something we do. Period. Whether an author is female or male has nothing to do with the quality of their writing.

I want to say this is one of the finest posts I've read on AW, and that has nothing to do with the fact that I emphatically agree with Susan.

Edit add: I also like her other responses later in the thread, too.

crunchyblanket
03-03-2012, 08:19 PM
I am suggesting maybe a way of getting to understand each other is to analyse writing from both sexes in order to learn to about men and women.

I think a better way of getting to understand one another is to stop thinking in binary terms like 'men and women' and think, instead, about that person as an individual.

I'm biologically female, identify as female but have a decidedly 'masculine' personality - from the point of view of the society I was raised in, anyway. So it would be erroneous to make assumptions about me based on my gender. I suspect this is the same for many others.

Lexxie
03-03-2012, 09:29 PM
I think that if you read some different reviews on the same book, you will see that it truly is the readers who are bringing their own experiences and expectations to a book, as there are many different ways for readers to react to one book.

And even if an author has a specific reason for writing a story, I don't really want to know about that - it can completely kill the story for me. I want to be able to read a book, feel like the story is taking me with it, and that I get to know characters almost as if they were real people right here, in my world.

I am not interested in knowing if the author is a man or a woman, the main reason I want to read fiction is to be entertained. And I don't think that I can ever 'know' what an author really wanted to do with their book, because I am not in the author's head, however, if the story was well written, I was probably completely inside of the head of at least one of the characters.

Wicked
03-03-2012, 09:32 PM
There is a way to test some of these "can you tell?" theories right here and now.

Go down to SYW and read the Western Contest entries. They're all anonymous. Forty stories under 1500 words.
Can you tell who's who? Male or female?
(If you try it, please do not post your guesses until after the contest)
If anyone is interested, maybe one of the mods could take guesses by PM, and post them after the contest?

The contest winners and results will be posted in two weeks.


Oh, and don't forget to vote when you're done reading all those fine entries. :D

KellyAssauer
03-03-2012, 09:44 PM
*link for the SYW area is here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26) (password: vista)*

*link to the contest entries are here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=238955)*

;)

kuwisdelu
03-03-2012, 11:37 PM
Most of our difficulties we experience in life, relationships or with people in general stem from the fact that we do not understand who we are and what makes us tick/ different from each other.
I am suggesting maybe a way of getting to understand each other is to analyse writing from both sexes in order to learn to about men and women.

How about you instead read some fiction that's about characters who are struggling to understand each other and instead of trying to do some kind of pop psychology meta analysis of the authors.

Amadan
03-04-2012, 12:23 AM
If you take a child drawing for exampke you can tell a lot about what within that child's mind and feelings.
Writing is exactly the same.


No.

Unimportant
03-04-2012, 12:26 AM
There is a fine line between everything and so there is a fine line between a woman writer and a man writer.
It important to be able to tell the difference in order to reach an understanding of how people/humans work/function/are in order to bridge these differences and get on even better.

Are the majority of the world's problems and individuals' day-to-day problems caused by misunderstandings between men and women? Or are they caused by cultural, religious, and social misunderstandings?

If the line between male and female writers is fine, while (I would argue that) there is a much larger line between Caucasian writers and writers of colour, between American and Irish writers, between very rich and very poor writers, between feminist and misogynistic writers, between progressive/liberal and conservative writers, between law-abiding and recividist criminal writers, between Catholic and Hindi writers (if we are assuming that "line" = "priorities, life experiences, morals, privilege, mindset, outlook, etc"), would it not be much more useful to spend one's time analysing the differences in fiction written between authors who fall into those categories separated by a larger line?

Why not analyse, for example, the differences between Orson Scott Card's SF and Jay Lake's SF? Or N K Jemisin's fantasy and Anne McCaffrey's fantasy?

Or why not study people's actions in real life, rather than the fiction they produce, to try and understand them and to figure out why they are different to yourself?




If you take a child drawing for exampke you can tell a lot about what within that child's mind and feelings.
Writing is exactly the same.
I disagree.

A child draws the picture for himself and creates something he can relate to and understand. He draws for his own entertainment.

An author writes for the reader. The author is aware of his audience as he writes, aware of genre expectations, aware of tropes and cliches, and tailors his writing for those things.


I agree that, if you know an author well (personally or through a lifetime of study), then yes, you can look at that author's body of work and see themes that relate to the person's real life. But I don't think you can go on a 50 word author's bio and make assumptions from that relating to their fiction.

For example, I just read a fantasy novel about a woman who gets sucked into the world of fairy via a magical tram system running through her town. She and her new roommate end up having to fight evil people and fairy lords and necromancers to save themselves as well as the protagonist's half-sister. Along the way, she learns that she herself is half-fairy. And, along the way, she and her roommate, who is also a woman, fall in love. Cue lesbian happily-ever-after trumpets, The End.

What does this tell me about the author? Um....nothing really. Maybe the author wrote it because they're gay themselves; because they're not homophobic; because the story just worked better with two women than a woman and a man; because the author thought lesbian fiction would be an easier sell to the publisher; on a dare or a challenge; who knows? What does this tell me if I know that the author is a man? Again, nothing. All the same maybes apply. Maybe the author is cis male. Maybe cis female. Maybe transgender. Maybe genderqueer. How would I know? What good would it do to make assumptions? What more could I draw from the story even if I did know the author's biological sex at birth? Nothing, really.

catian
03-04-2012, 12:31 AM
No.
How about a yes just for a change:D
Haha...only joking..I still think it should be a yes:ROFL:

catian
03-04-2012, 12:32 AM
*link for the SYW area is here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26) (password: vista)*

*link to the contest entries are here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=238955)*

;)
Thank you Kelly, much appreciated.:)

catian
03-04-2012, 12:41 AM
How about you instead read some fiction that's about characters who are struggling to understand each other and instead of trying to do some kind of pop psychology meta analysis of the authors.
I have to admit that I think beyond characters because writing a story for is just a maze of words I put together and characters are no different to words.
It is my field of research to go beyond story.
I am interested in human psychology and stories are a very good place to start.
I am very fussy about what I read and so I find hardly any books to content myself with so instead I engage in writing analysis because that is the only thing left for me to do and I am glad I found something.
What type of reader are you?

Medievalist
03-04-2012, 01:03 AM
There is a fine line between everything and so there is a fine line between a woman writer and a man writer.

This is an unsupported assertion, and the basic premise you are relying on is silly.

Here's why it's silly: Language, culture, and experience shape us far more as writers than whether or not we have XY or XX chromosomes.

Moreover, biology is not destiny. Female writers with gender-neutral names or male names are routinely praised for their "masculinity"--see Ursula LeGuin (who first wrote as U.K. LeGuin), Alice Sheldon/Racoona Sheldon who wrote as James Tiptree Jr., George Elliot, and Currer Bell (better known as Charlotte Bronte).


It important to be able to tell the difference in order to reach an understanding of how people/humans work/function/are in order to bridge these differences and get on even better.

Fiction is a series of things that are not true. Fiction is a deliberate construct, a series of artistic lies.

If you want to learn about people, live. Life teaches us truly.


Writing is one the best way of telling what is enlocked in people's mind, in so many ways then not, the way a story is written gives out a lot of clues about our inner psychic/self/feelings and so on.

Writing tells the writer something about the writer; reading tells the reader something about the reader. Do not confuse the writer and the writer's text. Go read about the intentional fallacy and authorial intent.

KatieJ
03-04-2012, 01:11 AM
If you take a child drawing for exampke you can tell a lot about what within that child's mind and feelings.
Writing is exactly the same.

That is like that old story about the child who drew all her pictures in black crayon. Her parents and teachers were concerned she was depressed. When they finally asked her, she just shrugged and said,"all the other colors are broken."

(Edited for brevity.)

I think if the writer is good at their job, you cannot tell their gender or their circumstances.

Stacia Kane
03-04-2012, 04:13 AM
I have to admit that I think beyond characters because writing a story for is just a maze of words I put together and characters are no different to words.
It is my field of research to go beyond story.
I am interested in human psychology and stories are a very good place to start.

What exactly is this field you keep telling us about?

Characters are very different from words. Words illustrate character, but they are not remotely the same thing. This is not the matrix; we are not all just lines of code.




I am very fussy about what I read and so I find hardly any books to content myself with so instead I engage in writing analysis because that is the only thing left for me to do and I am glad I found something.
What type of reader are you?


Sorry, so you don't read much at all but engage in lots of writing analysis? Which is it?

Quite frankly, as a writer I find your repeated insistence that you can psychoanalyze me through my work ridiculous, tiring, and insulting, and I wish you would stop. You know nothing about me, and from everything you're saying, you know next to nothing about writing, either.

kuwisdelu
03-04-2012, 04:23 AM
Quite frankly, as a writer I find your repeated insistence that you can psychoanalyze me through my work ridiculous, tiring, and insulting, and I wish you would stop. You know nothing about me, and from everything you're saying, you know next to nothing about writing, either.

You know what. I just want her to prove it.

Okay, catian. Take a novel or even a work from SYW. Hell, take one of mine (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7024159&postcount=1) over there.

Psychoanalyze it. Tell is the what psychological insights about the author are there. What secrets lurk.

Bubastes
03-04-2012, 04:27 AM
You know what. I just want her to prove it.

Okay, catian. Take a novel or even a work from SYW. Hell, take one of mine (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7024159&postcount=1) over there.

Psychoanalyze it. Tell is the what psychological insights about the author are there. What secrets lurk.

I already asked her to (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7057517&postcount=102). She refused (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7057558&postcount=105).

kuwisdelu
03-04-2012, 04:34 AM
I already asked her to (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7057517&postcount=102). She refused (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7057558&postcount=105).

I saw that.

I'm asking her again.

Take whoever you want, catian. Who cares if there's debate.

Do something to support your wild claims.

catian
03-04-2012, 01:33 PM
I saw that.

I'm asking her again.

Take whoever you want, catian. Who cares if there's debate.

Do something to support your wild claims.
Hi kuwisdelu

How about if we just draw the line about this topic.
I started this thread purely for discussion and exchange of ideas.
I accept that your views are different from mine and that you do have many points.
I do respect and understand your views. I read them with great interest and keep them as point of references because a lot of what you say is valid.
I also have my own views which I would like to think that I am allowed to air without feelingthat I might be confronted about them.
I am only saying what I think and so are you.
A conversation is about exchange of views and it does no matter how different the opinions are.

kuwisdelu
03-04-2012, 01:47 PM
:Headbang:


I also have my own views which I would like to think that I am allowed to air without feelingthat I might be confronted about them.
I am only saying what I think and so are you.
A conversation is about exchange of views and it does no matter how different the opinions are.

Except a "conversation" in which one party does not bother to support their views is pointless.

ETA: If you honestly believe it's possible to psychoanalyze a writer through their writing and it's "important to psychology" in order to better understand the "differences" between the sexes and relationships between people, how do you possibly expect anyone to learn anything of supposed importance unless you actually, y'know, do it and discuss it? Otherwise, it's all just masturbatory. All of your thoughts in the world on this aren't going to be of any merit or benefit to anyone unless you can actually demonstrate them and put them into use and generate useful discussion from their practice.

Cyia
03-04-2012, 07:37 PM
"Sharing ideas" for the sake of "conversation" in which you never participate other than to spur others to share their views while never giving reasons for your own is neither sharing, nor conversing. It's trolling in order to create a discordant environment.

Serious question -- are you writing a psych paper for class and don't know where to find the information you need? Because your approach reads like a ham-fisted attempt at behavioral observation, and also an attempt to have others supply you with examples and opinions you're unable to acquire on your own.

MacAllister
03-04-2012, 08:35 PM
Enough is enough. Thanks, everyone, for your patience, here.