Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weekly Geeks 2011-3

So here is what you task is for this week (You may do one or all or just some of the following):

  • What are your feelings about literary prizes regarding WHO gets selected? Do you think literary judges tend to be biased more toward men? If yes, why do you think that is?
  • Tell us about some of your favorite books written by women.
  • Do you tend to read more books authored by men or by women?
This week offers a tough prompt! Being female, and a self-proclaimed feminist, you'd think I would have very clear ideas on the topic of gender in writing. all multi-faceted topics it's hard to have a "hard and fast" simple opinion. Unfortunately. Unless you like long complicated discussions and reading my ramblings, then it is very fortunate indeed.

First of all let me say that I know absolutely no statistics or anything really about the state of gender in the publishing world, everything I say is my opinion which is based on my limited understanding.

Regarding the first prompt, which seems so sweet but really can be divisive, I hate prizes that delineate WHO can even be considered. I recently took a course on children's literature (aged 0-4) and was disgusted with the long list of awards that only applied to Latino illustrators, black authors, Asian authors, female illustrators, etc. First off, if I won an award for being "the best" "female white redheaded author of 2011" I admit I would be horrified and embarrassed. What? I can't just be a good author, I'm only good within those delimitations? Secondly, I think it's racist or sexist. We are all human, all authors should be judged together in my opinion. There will always be bias-humans are imperfect, and to try to eliminate bias is to eliminate the impossible, and what makes us human in the first place. So some judges may prefer male authors, or white authors, or what have you-but setting up alternate race or gender specific awards doesn't lessen that bias-it emphasizes it. If I were to set up a white male award, that would be racist/sexist, why aren't the others?

OK, rant over.

I have noticed that I personally tend to read more books by men than by women, just slightly, but I think that is due to my genre and topic preferences more than anything. In fantasy/sci-fi I read mostly female authors, in YA books I read mostly female authors, but most of my history and library science monographs are authored by males, and most "general literature" I read is also written by males. Additionally, most "classic" literature is (of course) dominated by male authors. I think that it is important to read both male and female authors, but that it is even more important to read books you like. I'm not going to read a crappy book just because it's written by a women, nor will I ignore a great book just because it is written by a man (unless it's Shakespeare or Dickens, I really can't stand either of them). That's just silly.

With that said, some of my favorite books by authors who happen to be women include:

The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Masks by Fumiko Enchi

I would highly recommend them all, as well as reading the other Weekly Geeks posts-I am excited to see how everyone responded to such a great prompt!


  1. I really liked this theme - it was my first Weekly Geeks post so I was pleased it fell on such a great week!

    I completely agree with your point on being the best of a limited group. I think that sometimes well-meaning groups like that can just focus people's attention on utterly the wrong thing (like, for example, the gender of the author), regardless of what they had to say!

    Also, I really loved The Thirteenth Tale! I have Beauty hanging around on my shelves somewhere too, I just haven't managed to get round to it.

    Great post!

  2. Lit Addicted Brit-

    Diane Setterfield really wowed me with that one too! When I read it I just fell in love with it.

    Beauty is nice and short, and I enjoyed it, so if you can ever find the time to read it let me know what you think!