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Quote of the Day: If a Man Writes About a Family, It’s Like, Oh, He’s Really Writing About America. If a Woman Writes About a Family, It’s Just Assumed That She’s Writing About Herself.

Quote of the Day: If a Man Writes About a Family, It's Like, Oh, He's Really Writing About America. If a Woman Writes About a Family, It's Just Assumed That She's Writing About Herself.

So says Jennifer Weiner who is now on her book tour for her 10th book The Next Best Thing.  All of Weiner’s previous nine novels have been incredibly popular and best sellers.  She’s sold 11 million books in 36 countries.  But she’s pissed because the NY Times doesn’t rate her books (or book like hers) as high on their best selling list as other best selling lists do. (See her keynote from the Book Expo America which goes into depth on this issue.)

Of late she’s been one of the most passionate voices for gender equity in literature.  She talks about how women who write about women and family issues get classified as writing “lighter books” AKA chick lit (a term she embraces) about things only women could possibly care about, but when men tackle the same topics they are about “the world” and are treated with more respect.

Same shit happens with movies.  Women who make movies about families are making chick flicks, and men who make movies about families are making masterpieces.  (ie The Descendants)

It’s great that Jennifer Weiner keeps talking about this.  She can do it because she is a best selling writer. 

Here she is on the CBS Morning Show.

Jennifer Weiner: ‘Best Thing’ Would Be Equality (NPR)

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stephanie rosenfeld

You're missing a comma between "Please" and "ladies." That's all I really care about, actually.

To answer your last questions, though: Because I've heard a lifetime of reactions like yours to comments like the ones Melissa made in her post, and, yeah, you usually are men, you all sound alike, and your arguments are always the same. There's nothing about them that are informative or measured or "expert" — just reactive and with an agenda to "Shut it down cuz I don't like it." Calling people "whiners" when you don't agree with their opinions is also, for some odd reason, a known marker of threatened, paternalistic blowhards.

I'm not talking about intelligent men/women/other with divergent opinions who articulate them without saying stupid shit like you did in your post. Now, let's be done and not besmirch Melissa's intelligent blog with this stupid argument, anymore.

Stephanie Rosenfeld

You could go on and on, Ruggleby — I wonder if, then, you'd make more sense. I think your first example proves that you don't really get the point. I also think your throwing around the term "masterpiece," in an attempt to punch up your point, is a little loose and questionable. Your language ("whiny nonsense"; "Please ladies (sic)"; "get serious about your work") belies your legitimacy as a critic and makes you sound like just another garden-variety, angry, threatened man. Voices like yours always seek to ignore the fact that many, many women creators and consumers share common experiences and frustrations that we know denotes something very wrong with the system of reward for good work in the Hollywood system. I didn't say "all." But many do. Maybe you should get back to your own work, Ruggleby, and if the opinions here make you feel scorn and hate, go frequent an all-boy sandbox?


Counterexamples to this whiny nonsense: Douglas Sirk made dozens of films and they were all considered "domestic dramas." "Gone with the Wind" (based on book by Margaret Mitchell) was considered a masterpiece. Stephen King's work, most in small town setting, derided as pop fiction. "Raisin in the Sun" (Lorraine Hansberry) considered masterpiece. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (Harriet Beecher Stowe) regarded as masterpiece. I could go on and on. Please ladies, stop the woe is me and get serious about your work.

Stephanie Rosenfeld

When American men do it, it is called "Suburban Fiction" and is Very Significant. (Tom Perrotta, Richard Ford, John Cheever, John Updike, Richard Yates.) When women do it, it is called "Domestic Fiction" (or, more insultingly, "Chick Lit") and it is Not Significant and is ghettoized in the market as "only of interest to women." Same with movies, same with visual art.

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