Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Monday 10 June 2013

Fighting the Wrong Battles

It’s Monday, so, today, as usual, I’m pulling something from the Sunday newspapers to talk about... OK, I lied, I’m actually pulling something from Saturday’s Guardian Review section. 

I read a fascinating article called “A Critical Gap” all about literary critics and the gender gap. There are, as it turns out, more male critics in this field, writing about more books by male writers. There are more ‘Men of Letters’ than ‘Women of Letters’, and who, I’d like to ask, is surprised by that?

Who is surprised that men have cornered this market? This is where books are sold, so of course they have. Men review men because of the old boys’ network. To review women is demeaning and to be reviewed by women is probably worse. 

I thought, in the end, the numbers probably worked out about right, though. If roughly thirty percent of reviewers are women and if roughly thirty percent of the books reviewed are by women, isn’t that about right?

Now, if you’re a woman, which I am, and if you know that half the population is made up of women, which we do, and if we suppose that half the writers in the World are women, and why wouldn’t they be? Then we might suppose that half the critics should be women and half the books reviewed should be by women. In fact, if you’re half the feminist that I am, you’re probably jumping up and down about now, screaming for justice, and, you’re probably wondering why I’m not jumping up and down.

Well, I’ll tell you why I’m not.

I’m not jumping up and down, and you shouldn’t be, yet, either, because if you’re jumping up and down already, you’re doing it too soon. Save your breath, because any minute now, you’re going to wish you had. Any minute now, if you’re anything like the feminist that I am, you’re going to be very, very angry.

Here’s what this very interesting article didn’t tell you.

I looked up this little gem on the internet, and you can find a breakdown of all the statistics in this article. The bit of information that’ll really get you raging is this: Only about thirty percent of published novels are actually written by women!

That’s what we should be jumping up and down about. That’s the first battle we need to fight!

This leads me neatly on to a snippet of news that I know many of you will have been very interested in, which I saw in the actual Sunday papers. I was rather cheered by it, in fact. Apparently, the rather brilliant Rory Kinnear* has been invited to play Dr Who in his latest incarnation.

There was some speculation, in the brief hiatus between Matt Smith’s resignation and this news article, about the possibility of casting a female Dr Who.

My response to this would be, nevermind a female Doctor, let's see a few more female writers, producers and directors on the BBC’s flagship shows and prime exports, Dr Who included. 

And while we’re on the subject of Dr Who, let’s introduce some female characters who aren’t characateurs, who aren’t bossy madams or erstwhile sex workers... Yes, I’m sorry, but kissograms are still sex workers... I don’t really want my daughters to have characters like Pond-scum for role models, thank you very much.

I know it’s not a popular opinion, but it is mine. Just saying.

*Since going to press this has appeared 
I must, I fear, apologise to Mr Kinnear, who it appears, is being used as a smokescreen while auditions take place for the next Doctor. I gather he’s rather annoyed about the whole thing. I am, too, now, since I think he’d have been a great choice... too good, almost, for the show. I might even have been persuaded to begin watching it again, having become rather disillusioned by it some time ago. So, I’m terribly sorry, Mr Kinnear, if I’ve added to your annoyance. I won’t mention it again... You really would have been awfully good, though.

1 comment:

  1. Of course, if you wanted to get really REALLY annoyed about something Who-related, how about the rumour that I heard about a certain high profile female member of the Who team's exit from the show being related to said persons affair with a male team member ending in a very public and brutal fashion? Why must the woman fall on her sword whilst the man carries on blithely?

    On the show itself, why does the Doctor suddenly have to be the focus of sexual attention in some way or other for every one of his female companions? Indeed, why must all of his companions suddenly be females, dolled up in tight tops, short skirts and perfect hair and makeup? Was I the only one slightly disturbed by Matt Smiths choice of words upon announcing his exit, the he had enjoyed the show greatly as an actor 'and as a bloke'? Doesn't exactly dispel the image of the show as being all a bit 'laddish' does it? That special kind of laddish that seems to persist in modern society whereby the girls must smile and laugh along with the jokes about their boobs, their bums, their underwear and their sexual preferences lest they be discounted as being 'prudish' and not having a sense of humour?

    I'm right with you Ma'am. I fervently wish that one day gender will be a complete non issue. That one day we will be spared phenomena such as the obligatory two second underwear shot in a movie trailer in a blatant attempt to get more men into the cinema (witness recently Star Trek:Into Darkness and A Good Day To Die Hard). I can only hope that I live long enough to see it but when I look at the 'role models' adopted by some young ladies these days, gyrating semi naked on the telly, getting their boobs out in Nuts magazine and the like and all while claiming to be 'empowered' then I start to worry that it just won't ever happen.

    Female authors these days aren't just fighting the old boys network - they're fighting something much more insidious, a movement of women that says you should be grateful for male attention, that you should make it your number one priority, that just because you can make money from taking your clothes off for the titillation of men then you damn well should. For my money, any woman strong enough to grow up in that society and still pick up a pen and write a book, is someone who can be justly proud of their achievements, and is to be celebrated.