gender / labels / life / men / writers

My Narrow View Is Sharp Enough to Stab Him in the Eye

I spend a stupid amount of time worrying if my writing is good enough. But apparently what I needed was a good old-fashioned sexist attack to make me know my writing is a damn well just fine.

Have you seen the article about VS Naipaul?

NPR picked up the story from The Guardian. And Naipaul said that

He felt that women writers were “quite different”. He said: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.”

He also said women can’t write at his level because they have a “narrow view.”

My head spins.

And yes, I think labels such as “women’s fiction” encourage this kind of thinking.

But as women do make up half the population, I’m not sure how anything that concerns them is narrow.

Really, I’m too irritated to write. I’m glad, however, that I’ve now been relieved of the effort of ever reading one of Naipaul’s books.

What do you think when you read stuff like this?

7 thoughts on “My Narrow View Is Sharp Enough to Stab Him in the Eye

  1. Wow. It’s unbelievable that people will still publically express opinions like this. Seconded on avoiding this author forevermore (can’t help but wonder, though, how he presents female characters in his books. Are they all narrow-minded and inferior?).

    ‘Women’s fiction’ is something of a pet hate of mine, because I dislike the notion that fiction-for-girls has to be separated out and given its own category. I don’t see anybody putting a ‘men’s fiction’ label on anything.

    • Yes, you’d think that even though plenty of people think things like this, they’d have enough sense not to say them–especially when you might not want to alienate half the book-buying public plus some.

      Exactly. No one say’s men’s fiction. Well, there was an attempt to have some kind of men’s fiction. It was supposed to be a response to “chick lit” (another term that makes me crazy) and I guess marketing people thought men would respond. Though last I checked, it wasn’t too successful.

      All the same, the term “women’s fiction” makes me feel like I’m being patted on the head and told to go play. I write fiction. Full-stop.

  2. V.S. Naipaul has been critiqued in the past for his conservative political views – according to the Wiki on him, Edward Said and Derek Walcott have labelled him a neo-colonial apologist. So I guess it isn’t too surprising that he isn’t the most sensitive fellow when it comes to gender politics. Fossils are boring and predictable.

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