Re: RARA-AVIS: Macdonald: another smoke screen

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 04 Sep 2002

<<I'm sorry myself. I should have been clearer. The biological differences are apparent (though often subsequently modified.)>>

Modified how?

Ontopically, the big change and the big headache for the male writer happened not in the wild sixties but in the seventies, when Shere Hite and other researchers (but the Danes had done it long before, and the civilizations of India and China much earlier) showed that women like it, too, that their pleasure organs have nothing to do with reproduction, etc.

Many male writers scrambled to refashion the sex thing, which until then was heavily chivalric and helped sell a lot of books (publishers are reluctant to change something that sells). However, it's hard to write of something you've no experience of, something that's changing while you write. You can see the hesitations and the mistakes in Robert Parker's books, for example. To his credit, he did deal with the subject, even if he often failed or annoyed his readers.

Today, a male author who pretends that "coming together" is a standard thing in a couple, or that because the guy has fun the woman has it too, would be laughed out of court. Many male writers still write like that, though, and I know for a fact that many women don't like to read such gross fibs.

I know of several people who were amazed by Constantine's treatment of sex. Not only does he take it for granted that older people like to fuck, but Balzic finds out that his wife has been living on Betty Dodson's advice for 20 years. KCC puts Balzic in a terrible position, but it's a real position, real life. I am sure that by doing so he lost some male readers but he may have gained some female readers.

Regards, and thanks for bringing up an interesting subject. The treatment of the sexes in hardboiled literature could keep us busy for years. This is one area where Chandler and Hammett did *not* write the book.



"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." Mark Twain

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