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The Spearhead on Lady Lit 3: Electric Boogaloo

This baby knows more about contemporary women's fiction than all Spearhead contributors combined. (As does the kitten.)

There are really few things quite so entertaining as watching people as ignorant as a box of pig shit offering their opinions on literature. Especially when the people in question are W.F. Price and his gang of misfit boys at The Spearhead, who are back for yet another take on the whole Women’s Lit question.

At this point I’ve run out of jokes on this particular subject, so I’m just going to let Mr. Price dig his own hole here. Here he is, trying to argue that feminism has made terrible lady writers even terribler.*

[I]t appears that since feminism’s triumph, female achievement in the higher arts has deteriorated substantially. When women no longer have to excel to be read and recognized, but simply have to advertise the fact that they are women to be celebrated for dubious achievements, they won’t put as much effort into producing anything of quality. So the sorry state of women today is a direct result of feminist privilege, which absolves them of all responsibility and deflects any criticism. …

Yes, feminism has wrecked Western womanhood, reducing the young women of today to spoiled brats who can’t take a hint of criticism, and immediately turn to authorities to bolster their self-esteem. No woman can be too fat to be beautiful, too dense to be intelligent, or too dull to be creative. They are all equally super-duper goddesses, before whom men must genuflect and heap up mounds of praise.

Price of course gives no examples to back up any of his, er, “arguments,” and somehow I suspect he hasn’t actually read any fiction written by women beyond an odd title or two he might have been assigned in high school. I wonder if Price could even name a half-dozen living woman novelists without having to resort to Google — excluding JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer and Jackie Collins (who hasn’t heard of them?) and Harper Lee (who wasn’t assigned To Kill a Mockingbird in high school?).

*I am aware that “terribler” is not a real world.

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zombie rotten mcdonald
11 years ago

(who wasn’t assigned To Kill a Mockingbird in high school?)

ummm….. I wasn’t.

Mandolin
Mandolin
11 years ago

“There is something ineluctably masculine about Tiptree’s writing … his work is analogous to that of Hemingway … that prevailing masculinity about both of them — that preoccupation with questions of courage, with absolute values, with the mysteries and passions of life and death as revealed by extreme physical tests.”

–Robert “Oops” Silverberg

Charlotte
Charlotte
11 years ago

Meg Cabot, Jaqueline Smith, Cate Tiernan, Dorothy Koomson, Phillipa Gregory, Charlaine Harris, Alison Weir!

Do I get a gold star?

P.S From now on I insist everyone refers to me only as Super-Duper Goddess Charlotte. Okay? Ta!

Amnesia
Amnesia
11 years ago

I hereby demand that W.F. Price be referred to as WTF Price.

Bee
Bee
11 years ago

And the fact that a few Spearheadians were able to name a few women authors from centuries ago was seen as ample proof that women were never discriminated against in publishing, nor were they discouraged or prevented from writing and publishing in other ways — nope. Women just don’t want to write. It’s not part of their ladybrain makeup. Their hamsters have other things to do.

The Brontes = See!

(Not to mention the mindblowing discussion at Spearhead about early blues musicians. Sidenote to MRAs: There are actual video series on the subject that would clarify your misunderstandings. It’s actually very difficult to be as misinformed as you are.)

It’s telling also that a lot of Spearhead commenters named Ayn Rand as the one female author they could stomach. Facile, wrong-headed ideas? Check. A moral standard that would reward the selfish, cruel, and vacant and mock the selfless and kind? Check. A lot of gabble-filled pages to fool boring, stupid readers into thinking they’ve really accomplished something once they’ve finished trudging through the boring, stupid mess of a novel? Check.

And of course: If you look at living male novelists and compare their work to what we think of as (male-written) classics today, you’re likely to find that they come up short as well. Mitch Albom can’t hold a candle to E.M. Forster. John Grisham is no Dickens. Tom Clancy is no Shakespeare. But that goes without saying — doesn’t it? That history and scholars and centuries of study can separate out the dross from the treasure, and various writers’ output over centuries will more likely contain some masterpieces than what was written just in the past decade? (Hint: Feminism has nothing to do with any seeming decline.)

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Well, finally a spearhead dude has got one thing right–I am a GODDESS and all (men) must praise me.

My bff goddesses and I shall recline here, eating peeled grapes (fun fact, I am actually eating green grapes as I type this comment) and watching our slave boys dance, dance, dance!

Oh, and women writers! (Happens to be one of my specializations–yes, MRA dudes, I get paid MONEY for teaching WOMEN WRITERS AHAHAHAHAH).

Random memory dump of some of my faves because all my books at home are boxed up (FLOOD!FIRE!FOES!AWAKE!, well, a busted bathroom pipe):

Adrienne Rich
Pat Cadigan
Jewelle Gomez
Lois McMaster Bujold
Patricia Briggs
Ilona Andrews
James Tiptree, Jr. (AKA: Alice Sheldon, AKA Racoona Sheldon)
Sarah Monette
All the books by the Brontes except for Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (Villette is especially feminist).
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Denise Levertov
Donna Andrews
Marcia Muller
Charlaine Harris (not just her TB series!)
Joanna Russ, Joanna Russ, Joanna Russ
Judy Grahn
Alice Walker
bell hooks
Trinh T. Minh ha (writer and film maker)
Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels
Ellis Peters/Edith Pargeter
Andre Norton
Viginia Woolf (and yes, Virginia IS a feminist)
Dorothy L. Sayers (who lived at about the same time as Woolf, and wrote feminist essays as well as medieval theory and mystery novels)
N. K. Jemisin
Nisi Shawl
Nnedi Okorafor
E. Nesbitt
Margaret Drabble
Diane Duane

I want to be addressed as Sooper-Dooper Goddess Robin (more powerful with more oooooooooooooooooooooos).

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

oops, outed myself–yes, in real life i am a robin.

no biggie though, i’m fairly out in fandom.

So online, Goddess Ithiliana; offline, Goddess Robin!

mythago
11 years ago

Oh yes, the excellence argument. Back in the far-gone day when [group] was discriminated against ever so slightly, only the most sterling, talented and luminous members of [group] were successful – not that they were ever good, mind you, but the bar was so much higher. Now, sadly, any moron from [group] can do well.

Charlotte
Charlotte
11 years ago

Hey, you included dead female authors, that’s cheating!

Mandolin
Mandolin
11 years ago

On the other hand, you included Nisi and Nora, so you win.

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

Let’s take a poll…

who here has ever been arrested for not wanting to read a woman’s work? Raise your hand xD

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

Q2: Who here has ever had somebody arrested just for funsies b/c they were having a bad hair day? xD

I must have missed the last feminist meeting (I hear we wore pink masks and had cyan knives to cut our hands and purple flowery urns to gather and mix the blood! I’m sorry I missed it Dx ) b/c my old personal line to the police commissioner to get guys arrested isn’t working atm : Did we change the number? Or is he busy? Is Riddler on the loose again!? >:

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Mythago: yep, as my friends and I used to say, one measure of feminist’s success would be that mediocre women would suceed just as mediocre men always have done!

Ami: We haven’t talked directly, but I do love reading your posts — there’s so much awesome geekery and caring and just poetic fun all rolled up in one!

An an English Professor, I have a license to arrest people for not reading women authors.

Well, maybe not, but I can look over my glasses at them in a professorial manner.

In my last Women Writers course, where I let students write on the work of any woman writer they know/like, there were students who could not in fact remember ever having read a woman’s work (no doubt they did in skool, though, maybe not, this is rural Texas), but on their own? For fun? Nope, couldn’t come up with one.

It was….interesting (nor did they take the class to get to read Women writers–it just fit their schedule and could count as elective or fill a slot on their major requirement).

Plymouth
Plymouth
11 years ago

The other day when this topic first came up I could only think of like 2 female authors I’d read… and then people mentioned a bunch and I was like “oh yeah I read stuff by them too!”

Mostly this is because I *gasp* don’t sort people primarily by gender! Especially people I’ve NEVER EVEN MET. I read books that are good, that friends recommend, that are in styles and genres I like, not because of the genitalia the author possesses. So I’m just not good at remembering that sort of stuff.

Shaenon
11 years ago

Oh, David, you are so behind the times on misogynist conspiracy theories! As one of the regulars informed us recently, To Kill a Mockingbird was secretly written by Truman Capote. According to the Spearhead comments, J.K. Rowling and Agatha Christie didn’t write their own books, either.

There’s an interesting chain of logic the comments follow. Basically, women have never done anything worthwhile in all of history, which proves that they’re stupid and lazy. But historical examples of women who did achieve great things aren’t proof that women can be smart and hard-working; they’re proof that sexism never existed and women have always had it super easy, because otherwise how could a mere woman discover radium or write Wuthering Heights? So women can’t win; if they don’t achieve as much as men, it’s their fault, but if they do, society gets to take credit.

As far as the Spearhead’s collective insight as a literary salon and flashpoint for artistic critique, this comment sums it all up for me:

Jane Austen’s works can never speak to me the same way Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead did. Realizing that To Kill a Mockingbird’s protagonist was a tomboy undid much of my immersion in the novel.

21 upvotes so far.

PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
11 years ago

Wait, no one on here is a cop? Boooo!

Anyway, about the current crop of women writers…If one only read some of the chick lit that is out there, perhaps. However there are the occasional stories like the Nanny that are just awesome. Same goes for *lowers voice* romance novels.

Oh the horror! However I think everything I ever read in a Jude Deveraux historical novel has been accurate. And Blaze Wyndham was just sexy.

Bother this…I am going to go eat some tacos made by 13.

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

@Shaenon and yet I suspect this won’t help them understand the complaint of some PoCs and women about not seeing themselves represented very much as heroes in TV and other fiction, esp in certain genres xD

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

@Plymouth You DON’T sort ppl you meet by gender!? >:O *drags you off to the re-education centre*

Lady Victoria von Syrus
Lady Victoria von Syrus
11 years ago

Q2: Who here has ever had somebody arrested just for funsies b/c they were having a bad hair day?

I usually try to get in at least one superfluous arrest per month.

As far as living women writers, I know I’ve mentioned some of them before on the first thread, but: Lilith Saintcrow, C.S. Friedman, Sarah Dunant, Anita Diamant, Robin Hobb, Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite as a freebie (apparantly, Brite is taking a break from writing to complete his gender transitioning).

The genre of urban fantasy, with the exception of Jim Butcher, is primarily dominated by women writers with female main characters – I already mentioned Lilith Saintcrow, but Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris are two other big names, along with a long list of mostly female authors I’ve yet to read.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
11 years ago

Oh man… I can’t believe I didn’t remember Agatha Christie! I love anything to do with Poirot, and Miss Marple is such a lovely old woman. *hangs head in shame*

Like any proper mangina, I immediately lump people into two groups, women I worship, and men that I spit upon. I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to man-training… (no Miss Teacher, I’ll be a good boy! A good boy like you wanted!)

vacuumslayer
11 years ago

It’s the fat chicks that really bother these dudes, huh? I notice fat women are mentioned in almost all of these frothy rants.

Dude. If you don’t care for fat women, don’t date them.

vacuumslayer
11 years ago

Also, the idea of choosing literature based on the sex of the author seems bizarre to me. I read what looks intriguing. (This happens to make give my reading material a pretty healthy 50/50 male to female ratio.)In the end, I don’t give a shit about whether an author is male or female.

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

@ithiliana Awww… Ty! :] I think you’re pretty awesome too 😀 (and ty for the compliment about my poetry stuff xD I actually wrote something last night that kinda just came out b/c I was on the poetry kick and also as a kinda response, but what flowed out was rly personal and painful 🙁 but I dun want to share it b/c this is so public : just ppl like you and most everybody else here are reasons i would feel ok doing it :] )

What you said about mediocre women and mediocre men reminds me of something that Globe & Mail baseball writer Jeff Blair once said on the radio about racial equality in baseball, that the great Frank Robinson once said to him that African Americans will know when they’ve gotten equality in baseball not when the undeniable unique talents can get a job or be recognized as great, but when the 27th man on the roster has a chance to be black or latino.

The super brilliant talents are always easy to accept, but when you go down, at some point a lot of ppl become interchangeable, and that’s when we see the biases (subtle or gross) come out (like in baseball, white ppl are considered still by many to have more hustle, to try harder, to have “intangibles” or be a “good clubhouse presence” etc, in hockey it’s Canadian players vs European players or even American ones sometimes) :

zombie rotten mcdonald
11 years ago

who here has ever been arrested for not wanting to read a woman’s work?

I confess that I refuse to read Atlas Shrugged.

zombie rotten mcdonald
11 years ago

(like in baseball, white ppl are considered still by many to have more hustle, to try harder, to have “intangibles” or be a “good clubhouse presence” etc, in hockey it’s Canadian players vs European players or even American ones sometimes)

Ami, do you read Lawyers Guns and Money? Because they had a post that said the same thing last week.

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