Are we men afraid of ‘women’s literature’?

Are we men afraid to read what women have written? It could be, but only if we had spent a single second pondering the matter. And yet it is what sustains one of those articles so whomever that flourish in the publications surrounding The country. Endlessly titled (one of the consequences of digital is that it is turning brevity into a luxury only available to those who really have something to say) Women Writers Against the Authority Gap: Why Men Still Don’t Read Women, the author, based on unknown intuitions of a supernatural nature, wonders “what are they afraid of?”

The truth is that I do not know any man who is fond of reading who, when buying a book, considers the question of sex as a minimally decisive question. What I do know, however, is a type of themes, modes, styles and approaches designed, consciously or unconsciously, for an eminently female audience and which, precisely for this reason, lacks the least interest for the average male reader. .

In the cited article, one such Mary Ann Sieghart, a journalist, just imagine, from a medium as reputable and equanimous as The Guardian and author of an essay entitled The authority gap, urges us that “if men do not read books written by women and about women, they will never understand our psyche or our lived experience. They will continue to see the world with the male experience as the default. “

Well, Mary Ann, there are so many implications to your statement that I risk running out of space in this article. In the first place, we find that watertight compartment mentality so typical of identity thinking. We cannot know what kind of world Mary Ann Sieghart lives in, although we can imagine it, but what we do know is that she does. there are endless possibilities for relationships between men and women that are far beyond the books. Without going any further, the daily coexistence between one another and between others and some, something, by the way, that has occurred approximately since we humans are human. This may have been one of the reasons why Homero could create Penelope, Flaubert do the same with Madame Bovary and Dostoevsky give us that amazing catalog of female characters.

Human beings are inevitably human and gender, in the end, intervenes in a very little decisive way

Second, we stumble upon the classic prejudice about the long-standing shortcomings of male psychology, whereby a man would be congenitally incapable of understanding a woman unless he literally listens to what she tells him. Here the whale of “sister, I believe you” resounds. However, I confess that, at this point, I am tempted to agree with Mary Ann. The more I know about women, the less I understand them. And vice versa.

And yet, if there is something that has become clear to me in the few forays I have made in this so-called literature, feminine is that he is not going to teach me anything that the topics on the subject have not already taught me. At the end of the day, human beings are inevitably human and gender, in the end, intervenes in a rather non-decisive way: “If you prick me, won’t I bleed?”, As the poet used to say. But there is also one thing that consoles me: the same thing happens to them. Between men and women an inciting mystery arises and it is good that it be so.

The third aspect of the judgment of Mary Ann and, by extension, of the author of the article and, by extension, of all our writers resentful of the indifference of masculinity to her writing is not only more problematic, but also one of the most identifying the time in which we live: I mean what we could call identity patrimonialism.

In a world characterized by the fragmentation of identities, minorities have emerged that, like an echo of the old vanguards of the proletariat, arrogate to themselves the use and abuse of the representativeness of a certain group. Thus, in the same way that rampant feminism appropriates the representation of women, these types of writers not only engulf all women who write, even if they do not write what they write, but also all women in an absolute sense, even though the vast majority do not read them. I am going to give you a close example: my friends, women all of them educated, unprejudiced and fervent lovers of literature, would rather remove themselves from the wine than read a single line of Elvira cute.

But let’s go to the major one, which is what matters: it is false that men do not read literature written by women, yes, only if we understand by such not what our circumscribed writers understand, but any literary work whose author, coincidentally, is a woman.

Take as an example the case of Ana Iris Simon, as detested by some as admired by others, among whom I count myself. No one can deny that Ana Iris is as widely read by men as by women. Why? Because both what counts, and the way in which it counts, while still having an unequivocally feminine bias, widely transcends gender stereotypes. Precisely for this reason, we also read, as our ancestors did, to Sappho of Lesbos, a Teresa of Avila, a Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Jane Austen, a Virginia Woolf, a Anna Ajmátova and so many other virtuosos of world literature.

We can keep thinking, as bad artists have always done, that if they don’t read us it’s because they don’t understand us

Art, ladies Mine, if it is art in the strict sense, it is not intended for men or women, but for the deepest concerns of human beings as human beings. That’s why we men can get excited about it. Requiem of Akhmatova and the women with The Quijote by Cervantes. Restricting this radius of ambitions by a single millimeter does not mean anything other than this industrial production of works that are only sustained by mechanisms of instinctual identification that perhaps have a lot to do with the dog of Pávlov, but hardly anything with art.

However, there is still one last aspect that is, again, one of the signs of our time: victimhood. Rather than self-interestedly presupposing that men harbor some kind of more or less telluric fear from what they might discover in women’s readings, perhaps they could ask themselves, in a much more productive way, what this kind of literature has that it doesn’t. succeed in arousing the interest of men.

It is true that victimhood installs us in a state of pure comfort in which responsibility always corresponds to another, but, in return, prevents us from facing the limitations that reduce us to a very small state. We can continue to think, as bad artists have always done, that if they do not read us it is because they do not understand us and that if they do not understand us it is because they do not read us, although the truth is segradable, as the poet said, it finally appears: if they do not read us it is simply because what we write does not matter.

This would raise a dilemma that can only be resolved, however, for adults: I can write, for example, a book on soccer for fans of this sport. I will use a language that they like, I will introduce winks and shared messages, I will talk about experiences with which they identify and I will shamelessly press their imagination. But, yes, afterwards I should have the grace not to complain about the fact that thousands of readers who like tennis do not come to visit me. What’s more, I will have to assume that considering that other books on soccer have succeeded in attracting tennis devotees, perhaps the fault is mine. Paraphrasing what, according to Cernudahis butler said to Juan RamonLadies, the dilemma is served.

*** Manuel Ruiz Zamora is a philosopher.

Leave a Comment