Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: realism vs fantasy

From: Maura McMillan (
Date: 18 Dec 2000

sorry about the font problem. i had no idea. my ignorance abounds in this area as in many others.

kevin's comments re the gender division in hardboiled readership is something i've been chewing on for the past year. what you say gives me hope for my new school of feminist hardboiled (i'm the only member of this school that i can find, mind you). i think women are very interested in hardboiled -- i know they read a lot of true crime -- but there are few female protags i can get behind. like none. except (of course) my own. i don't know that my experience is typical among female readers, but at this point i still prefer male 'hardboiled/crime/noir' writers to female, because among the females writing 'mystery' currently i find no voices
(except my own) who reflect the steel you find inside a woman who has made her way alone, without her girlfriends standing by, esp. through the maze of single parenthood and putting a meal on the table every night, as anthony's mother did. those women don't have the time or the opportunity to sit down and tell their stories. and they're the ones i want to read.

i must also add that i have not found a female character written by a man, within this genre we discuss here, that i find believable, with the obvious exception of gary phillips' clarice, a teenaged single mother, in perdition usa. in 'old school' hardboiled, you have women that are sexy, evil, etc, but they are two dimensional, and they always cave to the greater might of the male. i think many male writers are stuck in this respect because most men just don't understand the way womens' minds work, and if that's so, don't try to act like you DO understand, or you're going to look stupid in the eyes of your female readers. some writers are fortunate to have a naturally epicene voice, and they're the ones who should try to get inside the opposing gender's head.

i just know that when i read a male trying to write a female protag and it doesn't work, i want to kick his ass. and when i read a female writer trying to write a female protag that supposedly COULD kick someone's ass, but only after she talks to her cat and folds the laundry and leaves her mom a phone message, i want to kick HER ass. all of this ass-kicking is of course figurative.

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