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"No I won't read your literature … bitch!" and other thoughts on female fiction from the dudes of The Spearhead

This better not be written by some dame!

So Esquire magazine recently posted a list of “The 75 Books Every Man Should Read” on their website.  Esquire being Esquire – that is to say, a men’s magazine that had its glory days in the era of Mad Men and that seems to be aimed mostly at old farts (and aspiring old farts) —  only one book of the 75 was written by a woman.  (That’s 98.67% male, for those of you with lady brains who can’t do the math.)

The internet being the internet, some people noticed that the list was a wee bit heavy on the dudes, even for a men’s magazine, and pointed this out. The bloggers at the Joyland Publishing blog suggested that while the books on Esquire’s list were “mostly fantastic,” it might behoove men to pick up a book or two written by a woman once in a while. And so, with the help of some of their readers, the two assembled a list of “250 Books By Women All Men Should Read.” (Why 250 and not, say, 75? Because they got a lot of suggestions.)

Here’s a little one-question quiz for you all: What title did W. F. Price at The Spearhead give his post on the controversy?

A) “Some Great Suggestions for Books by Women You Guys Might Want to Read.”

B) “Did You Know There Are Female Authors Besides The Chick That Wrote Harry Potter?”

C) “Feminist Publishers: Force Men to Read Women’s Lit”

Yep, the correct answer is C, of course.  Apparently a couple of bloggers suggesting some books by women that men “should” read  is some kind of Gestapo-like imposition upon men by “Feminist Publishers.” Price grouses:

[I]it strikes me as rather mean-spirited of females in the publishing industry to denounce even ineffectual efforts to introduce men to literature. By all accounts, publishing has come to be dominated by women, and men are reading far fewer books than women these days. Given this state of affairs, you’d think that the women in the industry might be a bit gracious and let the boys pick and choose which titles interest them.

But of course that won’t do, because feminists must find fault with any and everything men are involved in. …

The implication [of the Joyland Publishing blog post] is that men should be forced by political pressure to read female writers (sometimes these feminists come off as whiny, annoying girlfriends complaining that “he just won’t listen to me!”).

Or, you know, it might just be that the writers of the blog post, and those who wrote in with suggestions, really enjoyed the books in question and thought that dudes might just enjoy them too.  Sort of like when a friend tells you that you should totally watch the movie Dogtooth, because it is so fascinating and creepy and awesome. Or when I tell you right now that you should go watch Jane Austen’s Fight Club on Funny or Die.

Naturally, the comments from Spearheaders were even more ignorant and obtuse than Price’s post. The basic theme: Bitches can’t write for shit (as far as I know).

In case you think I am offering an unfair characterization of the, er, debate, here’s one Spearheader’s contribution to the discussion:

when a man says “no, I won’t read your literature”, you have to respect that, bitch.

And another’s:

I basically do not read anything a wimminz has written, not even in my favourite genre of science fiction, because every single time I have tried they have been unmitigated fucking crap full of feminazi girl power bullshit and emotional baggage and basically very little hard SF…

And still another’s:

I never read anything written by women unless it happens to be instructional and related to work. Pretty much all the fiction I’ve ever read is by and for males. If I read some non-fiction for fun it’s always got a male author. I realized a while back that my cd collection is about 98% male. When I was a kid I never thought about it, it just came naturally. Now that I’m older I intentionally avoid anything by women.

It’s always,er, instructive to see what some random guy who apparently reads mostly instructional manuals has to say about the literary controversies of the day.

There were, of course, more thoughtful analyses, like this earnest comment from the excitable, exclamation-point-happy David K. Meller:

Women write for an audience of their own level–to wit themselves! Most men are simply too intelligent to be interested in what passes for literature scribbled by women! …

Correct me if I am wrong, but is most woman’s “literature” one more kvetch klatsch of women–or girls–getting together to complain about, to defeat, or to evade the workings of us evil, letcherous, abusive, horrible M-E-N! There is no point in men reading such drivel …

There may be better days coming; when women are once again taught the arts of pleasing men, in their creating a comfortable environment for the chosen man in their lives, and when they again will use their ability to read to discover new and better ways to do this, and their ability to write to communicate these truths to others of their sex! Until that happens, literacy for women, much less dominance in authorship, editing, and publishing has been, and is, a BLOODY MESS for everyone, especially men!!

David K. Meller

Yes, women should really only be allowed to read and write if they are reading or writing instructional manuals on how to cook and give better blow jobs, possibly at the same time.

PEACE AND FREEDOM!! to you too, good sir.

Speaking of which — the blowjob bit, not the PEACE AND FREEDOM!! — the commenter calling himself dragnet suggested that young men such as himself were simply too busy to read much of anything. They have other priorities:

The vast majority of my reading is for work, research, and classes. …

Frankly, I’d rather be getting laid than reading a novel after a grueling work week. The three or four hours I sometimes have free on the weekend when I’m not working or working out or sleeping or eating, I’d rather be out with my friends or getting serviced by whatever girl I’m with at the time.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a penis, must be in want of some girl to service it.


Anyway, ladies and manginas, any good lady books you want to suggest for the dudes of the world?

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11 years ago

Ta Nahisi Coates on this: Reading as cartography

Books are our most intimate art-form. The reader does a temporary mind-meld with the author, and a collaborative world–their words and our imagination–is conjured from nothing. And because each reader’s mind is his own, each of those conjured worlds, each of those planes, are different. And because the libraries are filled with incredible books, those of us who are readers spend our whole lives creating these private planes, walking them, mapping them, comparing ours with those of other readers, and then returning to our own only to see the contours changed. And so we map anew.

Why any dedicated reading man would dream of this sorcery strictly with other men is beyond me. It goes against one of the great assets of reading–the voyage to new worlds. It would be as if Magellan said, “I like my small town fine enough.”

Put bluntly, if you call yourself a reading man, but don’t read books by women, you are actually neither. Such a person implicitly dismisses whole swaths of literature, and then flees the challenge of seeing himself through other eyes.

11 years ago

frankly I suggest the handmaid’s tale to everyone.

11 years ago

We Who Are About To
Joanna Russ

The ultimate take down of space ship crashes and plucky passengers create whole new civilization because they are just that great.

The main reason I love it: the female protagonist spends the whole time spitting on all the men, aka refusing to have their babees.


11 years ago

Ugh. While I recognized The Handmaid’s Tale as good writing and good literature, I kinda hated actually READING it.

Doctress Julia
11 years ago

the explanation for WHY the world’s gone mad is TOO MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHIIIIIIIIPS!!!!

CJ Cherryh
James Tiptree
Joanna Russ

S’all I got right now, I gotta sleep…

Sam L
11 years ago

I love this. I’m using the internet in the library, and I keep having to stifle laughter at someone comparing Game of Thrones to the Classics whosee primary argument is “Meat and Taters”.

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
11 years ago

What? A Song of Ice and Fire is the greatest fantasy series ever written, at least as of now.

Sam L
11 years ago

Not saying it is or isn’t. Just that “meat and taters” is a laughably terrible argument.

I do have to read it, though. The last fantasy novels I read and enjoyed were Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and The Name of the Wind, both of which I devoured.

10 years ago

Anything by Andrea Dworkin. Read that shit, dudebros. Read it until you love it!

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