Like it or not, white male writers are still put on a pedestal above all other writers. And, like it or not, male readers generally don’t read books by women. They often say they’re
“not interested in women’s issues,” – as though “men’s issues,” are more important and more universal. When women complain about exclusion, these same men claim that female writers just need to “git good.” They seem to have forgotten the thousands of years women have been excluded from literature.
When I read, I alternate between male and female writers. I’m also in the process of adding other genders to my reading list. No sex has a monopoly on great writing. This fallacy makes people incorrectly judge Philip Roth greater than Toni Morrison; Hemingway above Alice Munro; Jonathan Franzen greater than Rachel Kushner; and on and on.
Now, this isn’t restricted to sex – whites generally don’t read stories by people of color, while people of color read stories by whites and people of color. But it’s sex that we are concerned with here.
In the past decade as though, the publishing has become more inclusive for women. This isn’t surprising considering more women read than men. There are more female literary stars than female directors in Hollywood, for sure. But when “greatness” is discussed, especially by male readers, it always defaults to the white male titans – Don Delillo, Thomas Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy, David Foster Wallace – when there are female writers out there as good if not better.
I am white and male. As someone who has inherited the Anglo-Saxon tradition of the stereotypical color and sex of literature, I feel it is my duty to fight for more inclusion and pluralism – not just for women, but for any kind of sex, and for people of any kind of color, background, and nationality.
Men who complain about female writers generally haven’t read of them, or if they have, went into it with contempt. These people are stupid.
The next time you choose a book to read, choose something different. Read outside your comfort zone. Read marginalized voices.
Keep an open mind.