November 14, 2019, 12:28:30 PM

Poll

Readers perfer authors of their own sex, yay or nay?

Yay
3 (10.7%)
Nay
4 (14.3%)
It depends (tell why, is it the genre for example?)
0 (0%)
I don't care about gender
21 (75%)

Total Members Voted: 27

Author Topic: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds  (Read 7064 times)

Offline Sindran

Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« on: November 26, 2014, 11:25:03 PM »
I may have posted this in the wrong spot...

So there was a survey on Goodreads that concluded that men prefer male authors while women preferred female authors.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/25/readers-prefer-authors-own-sex-goodreads-survey

How true do you think this is, for yourself and for the general populace?

Personally I could care less about gender. If it is well written and something I am interested in I will read it.

Somewhat off topic, one thing that bugged me were comments such as:

"Not surprising. I am a man and have never felt any strong relation to anything written or filmed by a woman. I take it men and women are two different species."

"After the short trip into the world of female-written romance novels that I made a few years ago, I decided that:
(A) I am more male that I was awware of,
(B) there is a chasm between the sexes, dark, deep, insourmountable. We are not born to understand each other."

(Ugh, typos!)

Degrading for one thing, but it also suggests that no matter how good the writer is, they are never good enough to put to paper how the opposite sex acts and reacts. It makes me think of those authors, most likely women, who hide their works behind initials in order to get their stories taken seriously.

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2014, 11:58:34 PM »
"After the short trip into the world of female-written romance novels that I made a few years ago, I decided that:
(A) I am more male that I was awware of,
(B) there is a chasm between the sexes, dark, deep, insourmountable. We are not born to understand each other."

I think that says everything right there (at least about those making such statements, as to the general trend, I don't know). I think a lot of people (I won't say majority, I don't think it's a majority) make the mistake of reading a single (or handful of books) and then cast their opinions about that one author onto an entire group. What's particularly odd in this example, is that it sounds like he/she's (I make no assumptions haha) has associated something they didn't like about the romance genre to all women everywhere. Pretty strange.

As for myself, I think this pretty much sums it up:

Personally I could care less about gender. If it is well written and something I am interested in I will read it.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 12:00:37 AM by Justan Henner »

Offline asabo

Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2015, 09:44:42 PM »
I read for the characters. If they grab me, I don't care which gender (or if they have just one - Left Hand of Darkness) I also don't specifically look for books written by men/women. I look for the story. Don't care for overly feminist or overly macho stories, although side characters are fine. A good balance makes the story stronger, IMHO.
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Offline Chreus

Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2015, 06:47:32 PM »
As long as the characters and story is interesting I couldn't care less if the author is male, female or a bit of both. That being said I suppose I do read more books from male authors but that's simply because there are more male than female authors of the fantasy genre.

As for authors writing the opposite gender, I find that the ones that fail at it are the ones who try too hard, and as a result overdoing the women being super feminine or the men being super masculine. I think George R.R. Martin answered the question nicely when asked how he manages to write women so well, that he doesn't write "men" or "women", he just writes 'people' ;)

Offline JMack

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2015, 07:29:53 PM »
I can't resist.
Here is a favorite line from one my favorite movies, "As Good as It Gets".
It's funny because it's awful, and we know it's awful:

A receptionist at a publishing company asks Melvin Udall,a famous author of women's romances:

Receptionist: "How do you write women so well?"
Melvin Udall: "I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."

Not politically correct, I know, but Melvin is a jerk beyond all jerks at this point in the film, thereby invalidating every wonderfully awful thing he says.
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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2015, 11:40:07 AM »
I read an article recently (reposted on the Passive Voice) where someone discusses how they read only female writers for a year, and how it changed them. For me this seems strange. I've always read both male and female authors, and don't even consider gender when I pick up a book. I'm only interested in the story.

Offline Skip

Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2015, 03:49:53 PM »
Maybe it's the knowing that influences. There are some female writers I like, mostly from earlier generations, who I had thought based on their name were men. Finding out they were women did not change my opinion of their work.

No, I don't care for romance novels, but that's mainly because they are contrived and formulaic. There must be some good ones in there, but my random forays into the genre have never struck gold. (I have the uncomfortable feeling there are readers out there who would say the same of fantasy.)

As for the survey: *shrug*.  As was once wisely said, surveys show that surveys show things.

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Offline OnlyOneHighlander

Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2015, 09:52:43 PM »

Being a liberal leftie Guardian reader I would love to say that I don't consider the sex of the author when choosing a book, but my bookshelf tells a different story. While I didn't feel I actively picked out male authors (or avoided female ones) after a conversation with a friend last year, on checking I noticed that around 80% of my books were indeed written by men. That seemed pretty silly to me so I'm trying to redress the balance by only reading female authors for the next while (not just fantasy - anything goes). I'm a couple of books in but so far it's been a very rewarding experience (if anyone is interested I'm blogging about my progress here: https://davidsshelflife.wordpress.com/)

On a similar note, while attending a creative writing retreat I remember the female author acting as tutor recommended aspiring female writers use their initials rather than first name when submitting work exactly because of this bias. She explained that you can argue if it is a conscious bias or a subconscious one, but you can't ignore the fact that it exists (even if it shouldn't). I'd like to think that we fantasy fans are less prone to this kind of bias but then maybe I'm being genre blind as well as gender blind.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2015, 10:11:18 PM »

Being a liberal leftie Guardian reader I would love to say that I don't consider the sex of the author when choosing a book, but my bookshelf tells a different story. While I didn't feel I actively picked out male authors (or avoided female ones) after a conversation with a friend last year, on checking I noticed that around 80% of my books were indeed written by men. That seemed pretty silly to me so I'm trying to redress the balance by only reading female authors for the next while (not just fantasy - anything goes). I'm a couple of books in but so far it's been a very rewarding experience (if anyone is interested I'm blogging about my progress here: https://davidsshelflife.wordpress.com/)

On a similar note, while attending a creative writing retreat I remember the female author acting as tutor recommended aspiring female writers use their initials rather than first name when submitting work exactly because of this bias. She explained that you can argue if it is a conscious bias or a subconscious one, but you can't ignore the fact that it exists (even if it shouldn't). I'd like to think that we fantasy fans are less prone to this kind of bias but then maybe I'm being genre blind as well as gender blind.
Yes, JK Rowlings wound up publishing with her initials because the publisher didn't think boys would pick up a book written by Joanne Rowlings, but the use of the initials makes the gender ambiguous. James Tiptree Jr. was a highly acclaimed science fiction writer whose real name was Alice Bradley Shelton, she published from 1967 until her death in 1987 under the Tiptree alias (although between 1974 and 1977 she also used the pen name of Raccoona Sheldon), it was not known until 1977 that James Tiptree Jr. was a female author. There's an award named after her which is awarded for a work of science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores the understanding of gender. Going back to the initials thing it's also a possible reason for the pen name of K.J Parker, no one really knows who Parker is what gender the author is, but it's widely believed that Parker is a woman.
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Offline JMack

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2015, 12:54:27 AM »
I so want G.K. Chesterton to have secretly been a woman publishing as a man.
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2016, 08:01:32 AM »
I'm not bothered what gender the author is my favourite authors growing up as a teenager was Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman there got me into reading and I thought Tracy was female for a short while.Without those two I wouldn't be reading now.

I just find it odd boys wouldn't read a female author as it didn't bother me is this a myth or true? Mind you I've heard boys don't read much in general now
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Offline Nora

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2016, 08:59:07 AM »
If they had interviewed me, they would have had a hard time with me, since I rarely ever notice the gender of my writers. I wonder if we could have a function in our "read" books on goodreads, to tell us the prevalent gender? But then it's probably skewed by all the non fiction, where gender is irrelevant.
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2016, 09:14:12 AM »
My Librarything Stats

Percent male: 72.01% : Percent female: 27.99%

What interest me the most is not the gender of the author but the blurb and recommendations
« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 09:18:16 AM by Eclipse »
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Offline sennydreadful

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2016, 10:45:26 AM »
Oh it's a tricky ol' business, this.

I don't think there's any avoiding the fact that gender bias exists, whether consciously, unconsciously, or simply via exposure. For example, growing up, ALL of my favourite authors were men. Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman etc. When I was a kid, I found almost all of my books in the library, via randomly picking things off the shelf that appealed to me. Why were only male authors appealing to me? Were there simply no female authors on the shelves? Or did I, on some level, think women only wrote romance and knew that wasn't for me?

And how do you even begin to pick that apart?

Some things I do know now: that women are obviously writing things other than romance (and anyway, romance can be great). That women are accomplished writers of all genres, of course they bloody are. And there are tons of women writing fantasy.

Despite this, if you pop into any fantasy group and ask for recommendations, the first six or seven names that come up will all be male (Robin Hobb will sometimes pop into that list, but she's usually the only one). If you go into a bookshop and scan a display table for SFF, most of the titles will be written by men. I have, with my own eyeballs, witnessed men on forums like this state that 'I don't read books by women, I don't like all that fluffy stuff' (??!) whereas I cannot remember ever reading any women say 'I won't read books by men' and this is because, I think, the 'male' experience is always considered 'default' and 'universal'.

So as usual I end up with the same thoughts I have whenever I see this discussed - it's all very well saying you don't care about gender when you read, but meanwhile the vicious cycle of gender bias continues. That is, 'books by women are talked about less, they make fewer sales, books by women become less visible, they are talked about less, they make fewer sales...' And so on.

If you like a book by a woman, tell everyone about it. Write a review and order more of their books, and when those recommendation requests come in, maybe stick her on the list, and that way we gradually kick back against gender bias. :D

Offline Mr.J

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Re: Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2016, 11:05:04 AM »
An excellent and intelligent post as always by Jen so I don't have to reiterate anything she's said luckily. :D

However I realised a few years ago that I also didn't care about what gender authors were I was reading, so much so when I checked thoroughly I had read pitifully few female writers. So I actively look and read more female authors now, and try to end my year read books with a 50/50 balance.

Of the books (ignoring the comics I've read) so far this year I've read 6 by women and 6 by men (though I read two Marquez books so I've read 5 different male authors) and my current read and next book will be by men so I'll just balance that out after with some Robin Hobb and whatever else I haven't got to yet. :)