Jaye Wells

The Rules

Let’s talk about sex, shall we? Get your mind out of the gutter, pervs. I’m referring to gender.

I heard an interesting interview on NPR the other day. An expert on leadership talked about the expectations employees have of female managers. Female leaders are expected to be nurturing, understanding and have a softer touch. In short, employees expect their female bosses to be mothers. If a woman doesn’t meet this expectation, she is considered a bitch or trying too hard.

And like everything, it got me thinking about writing. Do readers have similar expectations for authors? In other words, if a woman writes about violence or a man writes about love, do the rules change? Discuss.

Also, be sure to check out the excellent entries at the Clarity of Night contest. This is going to be a tough one.

11 Thoughts on “The Rules

  1. Merry Jelinek on November 8, 2007 at 11:03 pm said:

    I don’t know that the bar “should” be set any different for the sexes, ideally the writer is authentically bringing his/her character’s vantage point to the forefront in the rendition.. though we’ve all seen authors fall short here, I do think it becomes glaring when a female author gives her male protag distinctly feminine sensibilities or when the male author gives his female character male sensibilities.

    I have seen this before, never more glaring than when you read them back to back… but then I’ve also read books that were wonderfully rendered from the opposite sex of the protag…

    So I don’t think it’s a bias so much as the fact that some writers just don’t go all the way there with a novel – maybe we just look harder when the writer is the opposite sex from their view point character.

  2. Bernita on November 9, 2007 at 6:09 am said:

    I don’t know, but it’s a very good question.
    However, some of the best battle scenes I’ve read have been by writers who turned out to be female. (I don’t check the gender of a writer before I buy and read.)
    And yes, really, really superior entries at Jason’s.

  3. Jaye Wells on November 9, 2007 at 7:06 am said:

    Merry, of course the bar shouldn’t be set differently, but I suspect it is anyway. I think a man writing about love (though not a romance) is more accepted than a woman writing about “male” subjects.

    Bernita, it’s also tough to know the real gender of some writers due to pen names.

  4. Church Lady on November 9, 2007 at 2:52 pm said:

    Please come party at my blog.
    I’m going blogobegging.
    🙂

  5. The Anti-Wife on November 9, 2007 at 6:05 pm said:

    If the writing is good enough I tend not to think about the gender of the author while reading the book. If the writing doesn’t engage me, I’ll think up any excuse to not like the book.

  6. Heather Harper on November 10, 2007 at 6:36 am said:

    Off topic question:

    Do I have to be a member to attend the holiday meeting on Dec. 1 or can I just pay the door fee? I can’t come this month because of Thanksgiving company and a birthday.

  7. I came over from the contest. Big vampire fan here so I really like your entry. I was also thinking of doing a vampire one and thank God I didn’t. Yours was great.

    Anyhow, I do have different expectations of books based on the sex of the author. Even short stories.

    I feel a woman will bring me on a more emotional experience and a man will bring me on an adventure, but this is not always true. Anne Rice always took me places without emotion. Dickens can take me on great adventures, but I feel like I know his characters so well.

    I have just confused myself completely. It’s a good question though.

  8. Shesawriter on November 11, 2007 at 5:17 pm said:

    I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that some readers have difficulty separating an author from her work.

  9. Jaye Wells on November 12, 2007 at 9:57 am said:

    CL, sorry I missed it. I was out of pocket all weekend.

    AW, good point. Poor writing happens regardless of gender.

    Heather, I emailed you.

    Beth, thanks. I’m glad you liked it. You make some good points. I think it’s a hard issue to pin down without stereotyping everyone.

    Shesawriter, it’s sad but true how often readers confuse that issue. Writing in first person tends to increase the odds of this.

  10. When I got to pervs, I thought you meant me 😉
    On a serious note, like your blog… Nice work buddy…

  11. Jaye Wells on November 13, 2007 at 1:49 pm said:

    Abhinav, glad you enjoy it. Please come again.

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