Monday, November 9, 2009

Twilight - author insane if he was male?

I'd like to continue our discussion about our favoritestest book, Twilight. During discussion today, we I said that if the book was to be written word-for-word the same way, except if the author was male, we would think that the author would be -- like women writers of the 17th+18th centuries -- crazy. This is very interesting because Twilight is undoubtedly a gender biased book, as in it is written for women, by a woman, on a topic that women would enjoy more than men. Well, why would we think a male author would be insane? I think it's because he is not conforming to the "social-gender standards," or the set of rules we expect a gender to behave accordingly to in a society.

Interestingly enough, that is the exact reason why women writers back then were characterized as crazy: they didn't conform to what was expected of them. It seems that even though our fiction has evolved so far on the basis of tolerance, we actually haven't gotten very far at all.


  1. You know what's coming, of course -- I have to challenge this idea that Twilight is "written for women, ... on a topic that women would enjoy more than men." What makes us believe that?

    That said, you're bringing up an important point about the implications of sexism for the construction of masculinity. While it's much less stigmatized for women to do "masculine" things than it was in 1929, when men do "feminine" things it's still highly stigmatized, and often violently punished -- generally not by women, but by other men. A very interesting book on this phenomenon is the (UC Berkeley-trained!) sociologist C. J. Pascoe's Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. It's available in the Doe Library, and I recommend it to anyone interested in contemporary forms of masculinity.

  2. I certainly agree that there exists some "boundaries" for male and female writers. It would (generally) be expected that male writers write about more masculine stories, like those having to do with gore or sports. Similarly, females would be expected to write more feminine stories, like those involving love, lust, jealousy, etc..

    Though I can't quite offer a solid explanation why this is the case, I can suggest one interesting point: consider magazines. Unless you were to particularly research different magazine companies or looked behind the covers, you wouldn't be able to tell the genders of the writers working on specific titles. Yet, there is an obvious (generally speaking) divide between the magazine titles that men and women read. Men tend to read more sporty titles, like ones having to do with cars, sports, weight lifting, etc. Women tend to choose more "feminine" magazines, like "Us Weekly" or "Good Housekeeping". There is certainly a difference in the topics covered in these different titles, and they symbolize many of the "categories" of subjects that we (subconsciously) attribute to the sexes. Agree/Disagree? Any thoughts?

  3. I agree with you on the fact that when someone does not conform to the status quo, they are seen as "crazy". However, I do not agree with you that on the basis of tolerance, we have not gotten very far. I believe we have come a long way since the Elizabethan times and even Virginia Woolf's times. The fact that the author of Twilight can make a lot of money off her writing shows that we have come a long way.

    I find it interesting that guys are seen as weird or girly if they like something like Twilight when its perfectly fine for a girl to like action movies. I'm not too sure if this type of thinking has sexist origins.

  4. I'd also like to question what Natalia also brought up. Is Twilight really a novel for women? Because the main character is a woman and it's a romance, it makes the book a woman's book? We also need to think about what is the stereotype for women and men when it comes to the types of books. And what about books "written for women" written by male authors. Nicholas Sparks is a romance novelist and he is male.

    For me, when I read a book I usually don't pay attention to the author. It's probably best I should so that credit can be given to that author if the book is good. But the point is that I hardly read the author's name and therefore don't think about whether a man or woman wrote it. I like the book and find it interesting despite the gender of the author. Personally, it is the content of the book that matters rather than the sex of the author. I assume that everyone else does the same, not discriminating the book by the author's gender.

  5. I agree with what Olyvia is saying in her second paragraph. You must give credit where credit is due despite the gender and at looking at the sex of the author is definitely a way to do that in my opinion. I most definitely think that the sex of the author should never be a factor. A book should not be considered better in part becuse it was written by a certain sex. Similarly there should be no excuses being made for why a book was not as good in part because it was written by a certain sex.


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