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ibstubro's avatar

What's "women's fiction", and is it okay if I, as a man, read it?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) May 29th, 2016

More importantly, is it okay if I enjoy reading “women’s fiction”, and can I admit to that without fear of ridicule?

Beautifully written, wonderfully observed, and deeply felt, Ann Darby’s haunting first novel [The Orphan Game] marks the debut of an important voice in women’s fiction.

Is there an acceptable category, “men’s fiction”?

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20 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wouldn’t ridicule you. And that looks like a really good book. I’ll keep it in mind.

I don’t know what “men’s fiction” would look like. In my experience women tend to read more than men.

Pachy's avatar

You can read any d**n thing you like. Don’t pay attention to silly labels… Pay attention to titles and plots that interest you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If I saw a guy reading a book I’d probably fall in love instantly and grab him!

ibstubro's avatar

I’m having a hard time leaving “The Orphan Game” alone. Well written.

canidmajor's avatar

There is a wealth of terrifically written titles by women authors. I spent many years in the bookselling industry and was dismayed that so many men (most of them, in fact) refused to read based on the sex of the author.
Enjoy the expanded world view!

Jeruba's avatar

You have my permission; in fact, you have my encouragement. Go for it.

Anybody who ridicules you for your reading matter is an idiot.

Adults can read YA. Young people can read serious grown-up fiction. Children can read Dostoevsky. Seniors can read picture books.

There are some themes and some kinds of content that I think youngsters are better off avoiding until they’re more mature, and a responsible adult would not put them in the hands of kids; but it’s my belief that practicing censorship is more harmful than risking exposure to possibly disturbing material.

ibstubro's avatar

Wiki definition:
“Women’s fiction is an umbrella term for women centered books that focus on women’s life experience that are marketed to female readers, and includes many mainstream novels. It is distinct from Women’s writing, which refers to literature written by (rather than promoted to) women. There exists no comparable label in English for works of fiction that are marketed to males.”

I find the whole thing condescending. “Women’s fiction” appears to be a cover for romance novels as opposed to “women’s writing” that can compete with the boys.

IMO the book I’m reading, The Orphan Game, by Ann Darby is a well written book that primarily concerns itself with the complex relationships within an American family in the 1970’s.
One of my favorite authors, Wally Lamb, writes books that I consider very similar. When discussing his writing, it’s not defined by his sex.
If anything, I wish more could be done to segregate the shallow “women’s fiction” of romance novels from mainstream fiction written by women—I had a hell of a time finding this gem in the used books.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t like compartmentalizing thing into “women’s things” and “men’s things” either.

A while back a Jelly made a comment about a “woman’s channel” on TV. I wasn’t sure what that meant.

canidmajor's avatar

@ibstubro: Rumer Godden, Margaret Atwood, and Marge Piercy are all really outstanding writers you might be interested in as well.

ibstubro's avatar

Great, thanks! @canidmajor
I only buy random, 2nd hand books at yard and thrift stores and I have waded through miles and miles of romance looking for decent, ‘non-thriller’ female writers. I snatch up any book with Oprah’s name on the cover, if only just to read the blurb.
One day I’ll have a smart phone that lets me carry a list.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’ll second books written by Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid’s Tale is a good starting place. Barbara Kingsolver is another author. The Poisonwod Bible is one of my favourites as it describes personal and cultural differences from the perspective of women from the same family.

canidmajor's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer: I love The Handmaid’s Tale but I despair that some groups see it as a template instead of a cautionary tale. Ugh.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

You’re not allowed to read any of it. That goes for chick flicks, too. And if we ever see you around anything referred to as Clit Lit, the Manhood Police will take your balls away. Permanently. To complete your feminization.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I read The Handmaid’s Tale. Refresh my memory. I really don’t remember it much, except that I’m pretty sure I agree with @canidmajor‘s point. I started a fire on when I asked a question about the book.

canidmajor's avatar

Dystopian future, fairly ruined society, rampant infertility, exagerated patriarchy., fertile women are commodities. Worth the reread, @Dutchess_III.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I will. I’ll find the synopsis on Wiki and read through it.

canidmajor's avatar

The wiki synopsis is very comprehensive, they should warn of spoiler alerts. (Just my opinion). The Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble blurbs are more likely to preserve the integrity of the story.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ah yes. I remember now. I also read The Poisonwood Bible, which, for some reason, I remember better than The Handmaids Tale.

YARNLADY's avatar

O course. I can’t imagine why a company would specity Women or Men unless they needed more buyers in the women’s group.

jca's avatar

The Hunger Games is a good example of a genre that is specified for one group but is universally appealing (it’s a teen book series but it’s popular with adults, too).

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