(This was written for my other blog that I am co-writer for: "We Might Be Writers". This blog is solely used for writing, reading and everything book-related)
Gender Equality in Literature
“I'm not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love.” – David Gilmour (University of Toronto Professor & Author)
Jane Austen, Joanne Rowling, Sylvia Plath, Mary Shelly and the Bronte sisters. Each of these people has three things in common: They are all good authors, lack creditability for their written works and, most importantly, they are all female.
I feel that all writers, regardless of gender, have an important part to play in literature. Here are the reasons why:
Author’s Perspective/Experiences: Men and women both experience and deal with different styles of living. They have many different interests, perspectives, relationships and behaviours that are expressed in various ways (emotionally, physically and spiritually).
For example, Muslim women are typically targeted for their cultural beliefs by men who like to “assert their masculinity” by spitting on them, assaulting them and even sending death threats. Or in a more trivial sense, Boys grow up worrying about erections and getting girls to like them, whilst women grow up worrying about aesthetics and when they will get their first period.
Character Development (voice and characteristics): The way in which men and women write is very versatile and gender can play a vital part in this. Men tend to write more recklessly, allowing their characters to speak in more plain terms using bold and crude words and phrases. Men tend to give their character’s clearer goals, strong motivations and hesitate less. As well as this, men tend to write more exciting plots with lots of action and progression that draws the reader in. However, when women write it is more apparent that the emotion the reader feel for the character is very real and you feel more for the character.
Take Percy Jackson Vs Harry Potter. Harry Potter, famously written by a woman, the reader are left feeling that they have lived his life alongside him, feeling his misery and his happiness, as if the reader were there with him at Hogwarts. Whilst, Percy, who was written by a man, tend to make the reader feel as if they are watch his life instead, like an outsider, which means that the reader become detached and less emotionally invested.
Use of Feminist Theory: The use of the feminist theories and politics in literature has varied throughout history; from classic works written by authors such as George Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Margaret Fuller to more modern theoretical pieces by third-wave authors (include men, such as, Mark Dery, Stephen Durham and John Stoltenberg).
In pre-1970s, feminist literature was used as a way of educating people on the concerns and politics of women and how they are represented. However, since then, more complex conceptions of gender/sexuality and subjectivity have become more relevant, which means that it has developed a variety of new subjects being discussed. For instance, Pro-life/Pro-choice debate, marriage/family roles, objectivity of women in media ect).
It considers gender in terms of Freudian psychoanalysis (use of psychotherapy to tap into the unconscious state), as part of deconstruction the pre-existing power roles (hierarchy/patriarchy).
Even in more contemporary novels, like the Hunger Games, the pre-existing power roles have been manipulated and changed in many ways. For example, the lead protagonist is a female, whose character traits (ambitious, strong, intelligent, independent) are those which are connotes to masculinity.
Use of Pseudonyms – I had to include this one because it is the easiest way for authors to go under the radar and all the readers to judge them purely on the stand-alone piece of written literature the author has chosen to read rather than any other factors.
Some of the writers that have used pseudonyms include: Joanne Rowling (J.K.Rowling/Robert Galbraith), The Bronte Sisters (Ellis, Acton & Currer Bell), Nora Roberts (J.D.Robb), Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot).
Always remember, everyone can write a best-seller as long as they have faith in themselves and practise their craft.