Why I like male authors more than female ones: does gender matter?

Oscar Wilde, a man of ideas. (Although also a man of relationships, for he had a scandalous few).

Oscar Wilde, a man of ideas; though also a man of relationships, for he had a scandalous few.

And no, it’s not because I think guy authors are hot. (Most of the ones I like are either old or dead).

I noticed this a short while back: my favourite authors have tended to be male. Not meaning to sound snobby here, but as a teenager of the Twilight era I never got into the type of young adult novels marketed towards female teenagers (and hence were written largely by females). I found them…emotionally dragging? It’s a little hard to describe, but to me Twilight read like one big sigh. As a partial tomboy for most of my life, stuff like vampires and werewolves seducing airheaded teenage girls didn’t quite line up with me.

The_twilight_saga_hardbackOf course, Stephanie Meyer is in no way representative of all female authors! Strangely enough, I really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, although Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) wanted me bash my head against my desk for being so slow and depressing.

So why do I like male authors more? I feel that male authors get straight to the point, instead of beating around the bush and using half a 500-page book to describe a girl staring at an overly-pale guy. I also tend to like their writing style more; it’s a little more structured and simpler––again, getting straight to the point. But most of all, I think it’s because most male authors (that I’ve read) write about ideas, whereas female authors tend to like writing about emotions or relationships. As important and interesting as emotions and relationships are, I am a person of ideas, so perhaps that’s why male authors appeal to me more. Of course, there are many female authors that don’t fit into this stereotype. I for one was pretty intrigued by Ayn Rand, and Muriel Barberry’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a magnum opus thoroughly divulging both ideas and relationships.

Ayn Rand, a philosopher.

Ayn Rand, a philosopher.

Again, I need to stress that there is nothing wrong with female authors. I’m just talking about my personal taste, and I want to pitch the question of whether people agree that there is a difference between male and female authors. I know it’s dangerous to say this in our egalitarian society today, but we can’t ignore that there is a difference between men and women and how they think. Men think differently than women. Writing is your mind incarnate on paper and words, to some degree. Therefore, would men inherently write differently than women?

Do you tend to enjoy male authors or female authors more? Do you think there is a significant difference between how men and women write?

Twilight book covers image
Ayn Rand portrait
Oscar Wilde portrait: public-domain

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7 thoughts on “Why I like male authors more than female ones: does gender matter?

  1. Pingback: Children of the Immigrant Experience: Group Identification vs. Staunch Individualism | breakfast with words

  2. I suffer from this, to. i think its largely because literature, especially pre 21st centuary, is saturated with male writers, so probability dictates that more of our favorite books will be written by men. Some obvious examples of strong female autorsare of course Ayn Rand (definately nothing overtly emotive there), Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf, and Dorothy Parker, who i adore. As someone with a lot of male freinds and a what i could describe as a crude sense of humour; those overly girly books will never be for me, although it is refreshing to read an excellent female writer (like Parker or Plath) and truly relate to a female voice

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  3. Oh, interesting topic! My favourite books are all by male authors, although I love Wuthering Heights…and care very little for Jane Austen haha. But that’s purely because I find period literature very hard to get into because it’s almost impossible to relate to the struggles of the characters. Even though the majority of the books I read are by men, I wouldn’t necessarily say I enjoy male authors more than female authors. Simply put, there’s just no representation of good female authors in all genres so male authors are often the only choice. Most writers would say they write from their experience of life, so that would suggest there would always be a difference in writing styles as a male/female experience of the every day would differ. But I also think a lot of that has to do with genre more than gender.

    It seems to me like the issue here really stems from the way books are marketed. YA always feels like a female dominated market but because it’s so heavily influenced by trends, it can feel very one dimensional. And as a result I think female authors start to feel one-dimensional? Same with the romance genre. I’m not a chicklit or romance reader at all, that sort of thing doesn’t appeal to me, but I do think there’s a trend in the kind of female authors that get published and that makes all female authors feel kinda similar.

    Female authors are still considered a hard sell in many categories so I think it’s the ones that fit a particular formula that get published because there’s precedence for that style having an audience. For example, a woman that writes something along the lines of Hemingway may not get published because a marketer won’t see that as something that’ll appeal to women, and men are still reluctant to read female authors. It always feels like books by women in some way revolve around relationships but I don’t think that’s because women can’t write without a relationship focus as much as they can’t get published without a relationship focus. Or something.

    Don’t forget loads of women published, and still publish, under pseudonyms so you might actually love a female author and just not know it 🙂

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  4. Ahhh, I would love to add meat to this conversation but as you know I’m not very well read! Just from reading this though, I have a few points to bring up (BUT the disclaimer is that I am purely assessing this from an outsider view and I honestly haven’t read enough to give a good opinion on this; I’m just trying to bring up points you haven’t addressed in your post).

    How much female-sourced writing have you read? Which ones did you find you didn’t enjoy? From your post, most of the negativity is towards Stephanie Meyer, and the only other female author that you brought up as an example that you didn’t like was Emily Bronte.

    Expanding on that, how much of the female writing was targeted towards a certain audience (teenage girls, romance readers, etc)? Because clearly, you just don’t like that genre (for good reason haha) and that may have nothing to do with the authors’ gender. (This is to counter the Meyer argument.)

    Next, how much of the female writing was written in the last few decades? Feminism wasn’t really a thing until quite recently. And until it became a thing, I definitely wouldn’t expect any female writing to be on par with male writing, because the “female world” (private sphere!) was simply much different from the “male world” (public sphere!). Eg, limited access to education, limited time to write, limited opportunities to be published… etc… kind of like that Virginia Woolf thing where she wrote about what would have happened if Shakespeare had a sister. (This is to counter the Bronte argument, as she goes way back.)

    Of course, following from that, there are simply less female writers in the grand pool of writers. We’ve just started adding to the pool! Probability goes, since there have been more male authors since the beginning of etching words on paper, your favorite authors will likely be male.

    ANYWAY, besides all that, I know your main point was to ask “Do the two genders inherently write differently?” I think that’s a good question. Historically, I think the answer is yes, given all the outside factors that can impact writing. The slow breaking-down of the wall between the two genders, however, might bring the answer “no” to that question. We are still on the brink of something new, I think, and only time can tell. Do the two genders think differently? Are they “wired” differently or are they taught to think differently? I’m not sure.

    I want to say that if one reads enough male/female authors from the past few decades and compares them, they will find that there are more differences throughout the genders than between them. But I haven’t read enough, so I can’t say! Maybe you can tell me 😉

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    • I know where you’re coming from, I do admit that in my short life I haven’t read the greatest diversity of stuff. And like you said, people read the categories they like. Maybe I just like masculine categories. Who knows. With someone else we were comparing Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” with George Orwell’s “1984” (both dystopian, broken-down-society books) and I argued that the latter actually had a story while the former was just a big long description. But of course, this can simply be an isolated case and can’t speak to female writing as a whole.

      I think a new thing I can bring up is…writing…I think…and literature…is actually a female-dominated field. If you look at any school classroom during free time, there will be more girls reading than boys. Through my experience working with youth girls are a lot more interested in reading and writing than boys as well. Females are way over-represented in the people I’ve talked to who call themselves writers. Of course, just because girls like reading and writing doesn’t mean they have been encouraged to pursue it as a profession (your point), but I’m excited for the coming decades as we see more gender equality, for I think female writers will dramatically start to dominate.

      Actually, I have read more contemporary authors than past ones, and I think my strongest reason for liking male authors more is the writing style (because the ideas thing does fall through from time to time). I think it’s accurate to say that men and women are wired differently, scientifically factoring our biological differences. And perhaps I like mens writing precisely because I am a female: perhaps it is because I think differently than men, reading mens writing gives me a fresh new perspective and a “Hey, I didn’t think of that.”

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  5. Solid topic for discussion. This post is truth and I agree with all of it, although I seem to rather like Atwood. 😉 There is something darker, though. Women in general don’t know what it feels like to be in the dominant, stable position of power as men. Thus I posit that their writing is therefore more “emotionally dragging” because their position in society is reflected in their thought style as the weaker ones (in addition to biology). I have yet to read a feminist work where woman is absolutely certain of her power in society. That aside, women were never in any position of power to allow them to write about ‘ideas’, which you undoubtedly already know. Perhaps the impact is even bigger than you think? There has been such a long tradition of male dominated writing it might seem to overshadow any emerging ‘idea’ based novels that female writers are now allowed to write. But maybe you already account for that and are speaking to the differences that are still apparent when men and women are equal. I’d have to agree that females seem to define themselves in relation to other women around her and cannot shake this. And what if the woman wrote from the point of view of a man?

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  6. Thought you’d appreciate this more than a FB comment. 😛

    I agree with you that very generally speaking female authors tend to focus on emotions and relationships more than male authors. For this reason the majority of my favourite books are written by men. I really like action and fresh perspective in a story, not feelings I’ve already experienced in my head put into words on paper. The latter one doesn’t tell me anything new. Maybe other girls like it because it gives them characters that are easy to relate to.

    I think that when female authors are conscious of this difference (the way their heads are “wired” from birth distinct from males, so to speak) they can take the best from both worlds, resulting in some of the names you mentioned.

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