Is It a Woman’s Work of Words?

Everyone around me knows how much I love Michael, Prince, and Maxwell in that order, but it is Maxwell’s lyrics that are most appropriate for this blog entry. The question now is whether the writing world is a woman’s work.

“Pray God you can cope
I’ll stand outside
This woman’s work
This woman’s worth
Ooh, it’s hard on the man
Now his part is over
Now starts the craft… of the father…”

Several parts of the lyrics lend themselves to today’s Georgia Writer’s Association’s Red Clay Writers’ Conference. The theme was “Crafting,” which included “Below the Surface: The Craft of Fiction,” “Crafting the Poem and The Book Poetry and the Chapbook,” and the sale of different crafts.

There were more female presenters than male presenters during the conference, a coincidence or a planned action? Thus I proffer the questions, “Are there more female writers than male writers?” and “Do women epitomize literary prowess more than men?”

My instinctive response is that it depends on the genre not the gender. Then again, I might find myself eating my own words later. However, evidence shows more female writers of Young Adult and romance forms than their male counterpart.

For realistic fiction, I would say that it is still a male-dominated arena going back to hundreds of years ago when only men reigned supreme in the writing plateau. The science fiction genre is no different: more men seem to get their names out there.

What about the craft itself? Do men write better stories than woman? Here the opinions polarize themselves. Of course, we are dealing with opinions here. A visit to http://www.writingforums.org/ on the threading of this topic shows it unresolved. However, the current trend is that more publishers receive more manuscripts from new female writers than male writers.

Is this a numbers game where we count recently published men versus recently published women? Should we focus on submissions? What percentage of women who submit their works recently reach publication as opposed to the number of men whose manuscripts are accepted and published recently? Should we take genre into consideration when we respond to the questions?

Elizabeth A. Flynn in “Composing as a Woman” in College Composition and Communication 39 (December 1988), observed that women write more about caring and connection in their narratives, and men write more about adventure and separation. Several commentators on the Writing Forums site echo Flynn’s observation over two decades later.

Following that thought and providing an explanation to the reason, Katherine Haake, “Claiming Our Own Authority,” AWP Chronicle 2 of October/November 1989, pages 1 – 2, states, “When women tell the stories (of their experiences), we know the world differently; we demystify the original scene that has worked so well to silence us. We can then construct a place in which we can hold a wide diversity of scenes to be compatible, to coexist, to enhance and redefine each other.”

Mary Ann Cain in Revisioning Writers’ Talk: Gender and Culture in Acts of Composing (1995), adds that as women, “We can reconstruct the world as a place that both women and men safely inhabit” as opposed to men’s reconstruction where male writers put their characters through more hardships than women writers.

Is this a tolerance issue? Can women withstand and write about hardship as men do? Since action sells, the literary world perceives men in some quarters as better writers in that they can remove their emotions completely from their writing. Most women may seem unable to do just that yet.

Consider something else: There are more female literary agents than male literary agents? What does that say then? That women agents tend to pick and publish more male writers in the general fiction, science fiction, and thriller/crime fiction genres? Is there a conspiracy theory here?

What about readership? Everyone knows women are the readers across all genres. More women read more books, fiction or nonfiction, than men. With women dominating the reading world and more new females entering the literary world in droves, what does that augur for the future?

Is this the wave of things to come, future trends with women writers pervading all genres? Is it a woman’s work of words now or will it be a paradigm shift of impending female writer dominance?

As a writer, I inhabit the locales of multiple genres but have not sat myself down to tally what gender dominates what genre. I just know that I love to traverse across several types of literature and can write well, but I refuse to throw in gratuitous sex, violence, and such for the sake of trying to sound like a man or for the sake of using gore to make a buck.

Those who dismiss or underestimate the feminine artistry, lyrical prose, and fluid poetry intrinsic in the female art form do themselves the injustice of failing to appreciate and recognize gifts as profound as the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that make women the exquisite gender they are.

Eddie Murphy’s “Tower Heist” Shafted

Can a cinema house intentionally undermine the sale and performance of a movie? I will let you be the judge of that after I present what I saw, heard, and experienced tonight at the premier of Eddie’s “Tower Heist.”

After months of anticipation for this movie, I perfected my plans: chiropractic visit, laugh my head off during the movie (after all, it is Eddie), run back home to walk my dogs, have dinner, and spend the night regaling friends of the fantastic attributes of this most-expected movie.

Upon arrival at Movies 278 in Hiram, the ticketing agent informed me that I could not watch the movie at my preferred 5:15 P.M. time because Theater 4 was experiencing technical problems.

Immediately, I saw this veiled rouse as an attempt to sabotage Eddie Murphy’s movie. “Are you going to charge me the matinee price?” I asked with rightful expectation.

“No, ma’am. I can’t.”

Imagine my surprise! Without exchanging any additional words, I walked out, angered at the audacity of this movie theater in trying to cause this movie to flop.

The ticketing agent had the nerve to ask me to pay full price for a movie for which I clearly had intended to pay matinee price, a movie for which they have inconvenienced me and now want to rearrange all my plans for the entire evening. I also saw this as an attempt to make two quick bucks per customer.

I almost reached my car when another righteous indignation took a hold of me. I spun around, walked back into the theater, stewed in that annoyance while I waited my turn with the utmost self-control, and asked to see the manager when I arrived at the window.

Before I walked out, there was no further evidence of deception except the words that emanated out of the cahier’s lips. Now, the management went as far as covering the remaining three show times (5 O’clock, 7 P.M., and 10 O’clock) with handwritten “Sold Out!” signs that screamed at me and the other patrons. It must have become tired of telling people of the “experiencing-technical-problems-in-Theater-4” lie.

When the very young gentleman came to address my concerns, I stated that I was aware of his movie house’s attempt to shaft Eddie Murphy’s movie and cause it to fail. “Why is it that all the other movies in your theater have no problem except ‘Tower Heist’?” I demanded.

At which point he saw fit to explain, “We got bought out by Carmike and are switching to a digital system. We used to have reel-to-reel. We do not have a physical movie anymore. Otherwise, none of this would have happened.”

Not only was my anger incensed further by this pitiful lie, I was insulted by his presumption that the public would not make any fuss. Several thoughts flooded my mind in a question nature. Why did this management not plan ahead? What was so destructive about the machine in Theater Four that, by all intents and purposes, earlier shows had gone without a glitch (presumably) until we arrived at the 5:15 show? Suddenly, “Houston, we have a problem?”

Are there not some laws that this movie theater is breaking? Public deception, sabotage, falsification of information, a bold attempt to cover its own lies by stating that a movie is sold out when it is not, scheming to charge the public a full price rather than the matinee price, defrauding the producers and the entire cast and crew of their future earnings, and so on?

“I am disappointed with what your movie theater is doing,” I continued. “Look at all these people. They are leaving; they are getting upset, obviously. Like me, they had plans, and now your theater is changing those plans selfishly and with the hidden motive to make more money.”

I actually heard a couple say the same exact thing. “We came to see the 5:15 show. That ruins our plans for the entire evening.”

“I am sorry, ma’am, but I do not like what you are insinuating.”

“I am not insinuating. I am stating flat out that your movie theater is trying to mess up the premier of “Tower Heist. I came to watch the 5:15 show. You closed it down, but you want to charge me the full price when it was not my fault that you are experiencing ‘technical problems.’ The cashier wants to charge me a full fare. I will not pay it.

“Here is the $7 for the matinee price,” and I stretched out my hand with the correct amount it in. “That is what I am going to pay. It is the rightful course of action considering what your theater is doing.”

He paused for a second, which gave my long-winded self the chance to pounce.

“You have altered my plans for the entire evening. I had wanted to see the movie and run home to walk my dogs. Now, I have to run home, walk my dogs, and run back here, which clearly would be a waste of my time and gasoline, and I cannot eat my dinner until after the movie ends around 9 P.M., which goes against my weight-monitoring rules.

It usually takes me 30 minutes on a good day to get here. Now, with the merciless 5 O’clock traffic, it is going to take me twice that long.”

“I clearly understand your frustration. I would be upset as well. Tell you what. You can watch the movie on the house.”

This was an unexpected twist of events. I inquired how that would work. He asked me to wait for a minute, was gone for that long, and handed me a square slip of paper with “EMP $0.00” and Theater 11 stamped on it, among other relevant and irrelevant pieces of information.

Even though I watched the movie for free, I still believe that this movie theater intentionally meant to cause Eddie Murphy’s movie to flop. Whether it will fail due to poor sales remains to be seen. I also wondered if this same dubious tactic was practiced elsewhere by other movie theaters. Was there a hidden agenda here, a veiled attempt to cause this movie to fail by Movies 278 and other cinemas elsewhere?

The Federal Trade Commission, the Screen Actors Guild, the Department of justice, or whatever arm of the law oversees business practices that restrain trade for others need to turn its spotlight on this theater’s actions today, actions that must have broken several laws.

For a much publicized movie, there were no posters of the movie anywhere in that theater, not claiming its earned display outside with the other movies, nor inside in the lobby or on the walls, not one poster. Movies 278’s activities today stank of mischief, deception, and sabotage. “Tower Heist” has been robbed!