Tuesday 7 April 2015

Well, Now I'm Depressed/Now I'm Cured

I came across a hideous article trashing women writers on the manosphere. I would never have discovered it, but a woman writer I know (not Hilary White) actually linked to it approvingly on her Facebook page. Since I am going to scream about it, here it is. Caveat clicker. And please don't spend too much time in the combox. The manosphere is angrier than a Jansenist on crack at the idea of any woman on earth ever having had sex with more than one man in her life, and needs to talk about it ad nauseum. The language will depress you.

Anyway I hit the ceiling when I read this post because a famous British journalist into whose hands-- after some begging and pleading with the sales team --I got a copy of my novel remarked to a mutual friend that he doesn't usually read "women writers."

The mutual friend thought this very funny. I felt as if I'd been slapped. I had recently read in myslexia, that although women write most of the novels that are published, most of the novels reviewed are by men. And you'll have noticed J.K. Rowling is J.K., not Joanna. Why would that be? Hmm.... Meanwhile, no review, and I still languish in British virtual obscurity.

The irony? I just found out he actually really liked it. But perhaps I had been told that earlier, and all I could hear was "woman writer, woman writer, woman writer." I couldn't say for sure, but that might be like being told you can't play football because you're black.

Meanwhile: Alcott. Austen. Bronte. Bronte. Brookner. Byatt. Christie. Drabble.  Du Maurier. Ellis. Fitzgerald. Godden.  Gowdy. Heyer. James. Lee. Mantel. Montgomery. Murdoch. Sayers. Shriver. Smith. Spark. Woolf.

But let us get down to the stupid arguments of Manosphere Matt.

1.Their (i.e. our) sex lets them (us) get a pass for bad writing.

Ah ha ha ha ha. Don't bother clicking on the links, for all but the first one direct you right back to Mister I Haven't Been Published in the New Statesman Myself, Boo Hoo. The one article by a woman he does link to is actually about breastfeeding in public. The gross bodily functions part is just by the way.

The whole question of why men feel free to urinate on a tree or spit on the ground whereas women usually don't is actually rather interesting. It's the sort of thing women occasionally think about--especially in an emergency--but rarely question. Writing about it, when female, is actually very brave. Graham Greene had his hero Fowler cry his guts out in a toilet, but where did I send Catriona? Oh, yes. She throws up in the kitchen sink. I had to have a kitchen sink in my novel. You know how it is.

Meanwhile, my sex lets me get a pass for ... let me see. There is no military service required of men in Canada. I competed with only other girls for grades and therefore university places. My editor spikes my columns whenever he wants to.  He doesn't say, "Aww. Let's give Woman Writer a pass." He says, "Not up to your usual standard." So, I don't know--- Oh! My sex lets me get a pass--among decent men-- for saying what I want to or about them without getting punched in the nose. So there's that.

2. They (we) won't shut up about themselves (ourselves).

Ah ha ha ha! Hemingway, your honour. No more questions.

What a great time to mention that Ceremony of Innocence is NOT autobiographical. I did not live in sin with a Cardinal's nephew in Frankfurt. Male readers ask if I am Catriona. I am NOT Catriona. Catriona is a voice in my head who occasionally calls me "Mother" in a really condescending way.

The reason women so often write about our own experiences is because our own experiences are so often passed over. The first time I ever, EVER, read a very good, accurate and frank description of teenage female sexual attraction to boys was in 1989 or 1990 when I read Naomi Wolff's The Beauty Myth. Up until then I was vaguely aware that the male literary giants, including and especially the homosexual ones, were kind of getting that wrong. And women writers didn't seem to want to talk about it.  (Nota Bene: I had read neither Colette nor Duras.)

Meanwhile, back to Hemingway. I mean, I love him, but after a steady diet of male novelists, I do want to read something by and about a woman. I get so tired of men talking about themselves all the time and assuming, if they are homosexual, that this gives them magical insight into the female mind. No.

Amusingly, all Matt's links here go straight back to Matt.

3. They  (we) don't take risks.

Women don't take risks, he says, yet just publishing a piece about breastfeeding in light of  other bodily functions in the New Statesman while female gets guys like Matt buzzing around to say women don't write, they type. As far as I can make out, the "not writing but typing" insult has been around for as long as the typewriter, so so much for risks.  (The link here, incidentally, is also right back to Matt.)

The rest is barely disguised whining that he is writing for the manosphere instead of for the New Statesman. Where is the female version of "Return of Kings" he wonders. I don't know. Where do women who really hate women hang out and write drivel?

I am not sure what risk-taking means, anymore, especially to an audience that (see its combox, but only very briefly) is obsessed with women sleeping with too many men. If I told them that occasionally (not always, but  occasionally) some women sleep with dozens of men without ill effect, grow up, get married to younger, richer men who adore them and buy them little presents, they would collectively burst a blood vessel. (How is Victoria anyway, I wonder. Haven't seen her in yonks.)

Speaking as a woman (see 2), I know I damn well take a risk every time I write exactly what I think and sent it off to Toronto to be published in the CR. I also take a risk every time I write a piece of fiction and offer it up to readers to be judged. I took several risks with Ceremony of Innocence. let me tell you. And every time I mention Polish Pretend Son on my blog I fear a rumpus in my in-box beginning, "If you were a man..." (See 1.)

And now I don't feel depressed anymore. But please don't announce in the RoK combox that I wrote this post because I do not want a flock of readers from the manosphere. Seriously.

Manosphere readers are obsessed with how many men women allow access to ourselves, as if our ontological net worth--which, incidentally, comes directly from our having been made in the image and likeness of God--could ever be subtracted by, er, visitors. (I see they loathe the Eat, Pray, Love lady who, if I remember correctly, slept with only one guy in the course of the book.) Well, let me tell you, I do not want to consort with habitual fans of the manosphere. Insofar as a writer can be a lady, I try to be one, and I don't want those guys around.

Update: Check this out. At least in the USA, more women then men read books. And most women buy more of every type of fiction than men do. So Americans go from Johnny Can't Read to Johnny Doesn't Read Books. I wonder why that is.

Update 2: To come clean, I have a really bad cold now and hence the attention of a sparrow anyway, so I am having a great old time on the internet. I have been scrapping it up with men on the woman writer's Facebook page, and they have departed wailing, in short, "You're a meanie." A senior woman journo has made the error of telling me she covers "female effluvia" for a living, and I asked her if she was sure she wanted to phrase it that way. This has no doubt cemented my meanie reputation among the writer's fans and won me enemies for life. Ha ha ha! Risk-taking, people.

Update 3: I'll tell you what is really scary though. Last night I dreamed I had a hen night and somehow wracked up a bill for $1000. I was drunkenly trying to find my credit card, having already chucked $700 on the table, and I had just seen it so where was it...? And then BENEDICT AMBROSE arrived and REACHED FOR THE BILL. I was so horrified, I woke up.  As Count Floyd would say, "Oooh, SCARY!"

Moderation on, just in case.


  1. Return of Kings is a pile of rubbish. I started to read the article, but then I got bored and clicked away. Perhaps I will read the whole thing later.

    At the best of times, for the sake of my sanity, I stay away from the manosphere. Today is not the best of times, and I need desperately to believe that there are men out there who don't hate me because I'm a woman (even if they hate me for some other reason), who don't think I'm a disgusting fat pig because my waist circumference is bigger than 23 inches (I had a dream that young Catholic men wouldn't let me into Young Catholic People's Summer Camp because I'm not a lingerie model), and who aren't going to marry me or the women I love only to spend the whole marriage looking at p*rn.

    Sometimes I wonder if the whole manosphere thing is just a recruitment strategy by a collective of Orders of nuns. Gotta say, joining the Dominicans seems pretty appealing at the moment.

  2. Oh dear. I can see it is a bad day. Look, the majority of men are decent blokes who want what all human beings want: food, drink, shelter, meaningful work, love, respect, friendship. They live in the world, not on the internet. They are hurt by bad economic times and they are hurt by their weaknesses. For every woman who is afraid she might marry a guy with a p*rn addiction, there's a guy terrified he'll build up a wonderful life with the girl of his dreams, and she'll leave him, crippling him economically. We've all inherited a broken world, and there is fellowship to be found in that, right? We just have to declare ourselves on the side of the Gospel of Life and have a little faith in our brothers-in-arms. The sooner you go on your trip, the better I think.

  3. Do you know what did cheer me up, though?


  4. I should have known better than to go read the stupid thing. Ugh. So much hatred! But it does make me very grateful for all decent, and even more, all the really exceptional and chivalrous and sweet men in my life.


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