Should most men ask women if they need sensitivity readers?

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llyralen

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So...I'm losing track of what the point is here. Is this just meant to be a big bitch session about sexism? Because yeah, sure, fine. I follow Men Writing Women on Twitter and Instagram. I grew up in the 70s and read a lot of really sexist stuff.

I attended a panel on women in publishing once. Some big behind-the-scenes names on the panel. It was a lot of carping about the ways male writers stereotype, and eyerolling over it, and they brought up zero new ideas and zero new solutions. It was dull, and frankly kind of insulting.

Publishing in general has a massive sexism problem. Pointing fingers at some guy in a crit group doesn't address the issue. Insisting that men have women read for them is, as others have pointed out, letting bad writers off the hook.

It's not the 70s. It's 2021, there's a lot of discussion about this stuff, and I am not obligated to fix anybody's writing for them.

Also: it's a bit "not all men" of me, sure, but I have read male writers here at AW who know what they're doing. So maybe, if we continue with this discussion, we can stay away from the sweeping generalizations.

My question is, can you have an open conversation with women about the women in your book? Have you ever tried because that is what I’m saying—- if you listen— might make you a better writer.

Ever tried it?

I never said there aren’t men who write women well. But mostly… the stuff I’ve been critiquing is seriously flawed, flawed in the plot for exactly that reason. The women they wrote were like the pretty female magician’s assistant. Distracted them so that they couldn’t even see things they weren’t explaining.

The solution is probably all around you guys is what I’m saying. Just talk to females openly and honestly. Or will that never work? What year did you say this is?
 

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My question is, can you have an open conversation with women about the women in your book? Have you ever tried because that is what I’m saying—- if you listen— might make you a better writer.

Ever tried it?

I never said there aren’t men who write women well. But mostly… the stuff I’ve been critiquing is seriously flawed, flawed in the plot for exactly that reason. The women they wrote were like the pretty female magician’s assistant. Distracted them so that they couldn’t even see things they weren’t explaining.

The solution is probably all around you guys is what I’m saying. Just talk to females openly and honestly. Or will that never work? What year did you say this is?
Um - still not sure who you're addressing. Are you suggesting that Liz needs to talk to women about the women in her books? (I can assure you that Liz has no problem writing women. Or men. I've read - I think - all her books, and character is something she's always had an unerring talent for.)
 

lizmonster

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My question is, can you have an open conversation with women about the women in your book? Have you ever tried because that is what I’m saying—- if you listen— might make you a better writer.

Ever tried it?

I never said there aren’t men who write women well. But mostly… the stuff I’ve been critiquing is seriously flawed, flawed in the plot for exactly that reason. The women they wrote were like the pretty female magician’s assistant. Distracted them so that they couldn’t even see things they weren’t explaining.

The solution is probably all around you guys is what I’m saying. Just talk to females openly and honestly. Or will that never work? What year did you say this is?
I am further confused.

I am female.

I would cheerfully have an open conversation with women about the women in my book. And the men. And the nonbinary characters. I'm a writer; I love to talk about my writing.

I still think PastyAlien has the right answer: if your crit group is full of people writing cardboard characters, the answer isn't to try to fix them. It's to find another crit group.
 

Ari Meermans

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I've been sitting here trying to figure out what the OP wants/needs from this discussion and I'm still not there yet. It looks like a bitch session on sexism to me and I'm not havin' it.

So, here's the thing, folks: I'll close the thread if all you're going to do is sit around and kvetch about sexism. Got some tips/strategies on communicating problematic WIP passages in a way that is respectful and easily understood? Share them.
 

ElaineA

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Yeah, I've lost the thread. The thread title is "should all men get women sensitivity readers" and now we're talking about women listening to women? I'm confuzzled.

(Also, apologies if I contributed to said confuzzlement on the part of others.)
 
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llyralen

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Um - still not sure who you're addressing. Are you suggesting that Liz needs to talk to women about the women in her books? (I can assure you that Liz has no problem writing women. Or men. I've read - I think - all her books, and character is something she's always had an unerring talent for.)
Lol. I’m just interacting with the messages. I don’t know individuals on here. Pretty funny! Sorry, Liz!
 

llyralen

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I've been sitting here trying to figure out what the OP wants/needs from this discussion and I'm still not there yet. It looks like a bitch session on sexism to me and I'm not havin' it.

So, here's the thing, folks: I'll close the thread if all you're going to do is sit around and kvetch about sexism. Got some tips/strategies on communicating problematic WIP passages in a way that is respectful and easily understood? Share them.

I think the need for this thread is real and self-evident. There are people trying to interact with the idea. It needed some re-focusing in my opinion, which I felt capable of doing.

My post is offering a solution, not a bitch-session.
How interesting that you found it disrespectful and not easily understood.
 

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In terms of offering crits that might help: I think there is a category of writer who is fairly new, and who's looking for some rules and guidelines that will allow them to perfectly translate the beautiful idea in their heads into a bestselling novel. These are people who don't really understand yet the work of writing fiction, and are still hoping that there's some Lego kit they can find.

These people sometimes respond to basic reassurance: yes, all of your characters need to be whole people, not archetypes, outdated or otherwise. Yes, women are human too, and immersing yourself into your not-you characters is just as vital as your treatment of the characters that you find more familiar. These people are all in your head, and you need to make them whole people, just like you are.

Socially-enforced gender binary is a hard one to shift. We all swim in it. I may sound cavalier when I say "do your own research," but the truth is if people are going to examine their own role in this sexist world, they're going to do it without my urging.

And if they're entrenched? There's not a thing I can say that could shift them, and I am not burning my energy there.
 

mccardey

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So men… let’s talk about this.
Were you maybe directing the thread to men only? Because I missed that. It might have been better put in the Header.
I think the need for this thread is real and self-evident. There are people trying to interact with the idea. It needed some re-focusing in my opinion, which I felt capable of doing.

My post is offering a solution, not a bitch-session.
How interesting that you found it disrespectful and not easily understood
Oh dear...
 
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lizmonster

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My post is offering a solution, not a bitch-session.

If I understand you correctly, your solution is that women should engage heavily with men who write women poorly in hopes of correcting them. Or that men - most of whom have no idea they have a problem - should automatically seek female sensitivity readers, which is essentially the same thing, just with an hourly rate.

How interesting that you found it disrespectful and not easily understood.

In Ari's defense, I'm confused as well.
 
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llyralen

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I am further confused.

I am female.

I would cheerfully have an open conversation with women about the women in my book. And the men. And the nonbinary characters. I'm a writer; I love to talk about my writing.

I still think PastyAlien has the right answer: if your crit group is full of people writing cardboard characters, the answer isn't to try to fix them. It's to find another crit group.
I’m sorry I was thinking I was defending women here and didn’t notice the individual. I’ve have a hard time reading names in vertical and so I just reply to the message, and assumed too much which is the first thing NOT to do. This is a funny joke on me. Thank you for this classy reply you wrote.
 

llyralen

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If I understand you correctly, your solution is that women should engage heavily with men who write women poorly in hopes of correcting them. Or that men - most of whom have no idea they have a problem - should automatically seek female sensitivity readers, which is essentially the same thing, just with an hourly rate.



In Ari's defense, I'm confused as well.
It sounds like you got my point without confusion.

I didn’t know sensitivity readers were always paid, but they probably should be.

I think maybe I used the term “sensitivity readers” incorrectly, as it seems to me like anyone from the group in question when they give feedback might be considered sensitivity readers. I should have corrected the name of my post after I realized others saw it being more formal than I do. So I am probably confused and confusing others on that point.
 

Ari Meermans

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I think the need for this thread is real and self-evident. There are people trying to interact with the idea. It needed some re-focusing in my opinion, which I felt capable of doing.

My post is offering a solution, not a bitch-session.
How interesting that you found it disrespectful and not easily understood.
heh.
 
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Ari Meermans

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It sounds like you got my point without confusion.

I didn’t know sensitivity readers were always paid, but they probably should be.

I think maybe I used the term “sensitivity readers” incorrectly, as it seems to me like anyone from the group in question when they give feedback might be considered sensitivity readers. I should have corrected the name of my post after I realized others saw it being more formal than I do. So I am probably confused and confusing others on that point.
(Emphasis mine)

In that case, you probably need to take some time to reformulate your question and/or thesis for the discussion. Until then we're done here.
 
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