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.