Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read

Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read

Regular readers know that I don’t identify gender on this blog, generally.

I try to write in a way that doesn’t use gender-specific pronouns. I don’t identify my gender, or the genders of my friends and family (I use “Significant Other”, “sibling”, “now adult kid”, that sort of thing…I also often use somewhat more awkward writing, by using proper nouns rather than pronouns. That means I may use someone’s first or last name several times in a paragraph).

I’ve explained this before, and I know not everybody endorses the idea of it, but I think my readers generally accept it…in some cases, maybe, just as an eccentricity of mine. 🙂

I do it so that people can feel free to comment on this blog without revealing intrinsic characteristics (I also don’t make explicit other things, like race). If I don’t do it, it’s arguably more convention for other people not to do it.

I would say that’s my favorite thing about the internet: the ability to be judged by what we say, not by who we are.

I also believe (a lot of sentences starting with “I” this time! That’s because I am, so far, talking about me…that will become somewhat different as I continue) that some of my readers think it is important to promote contributions by people who might face a lack of recognition because of who they are.

For example, I’m sure there are people who by default assume authors are male. It used to be much more true, I believe, that women authors would have a tougher time in the mainstream marketplace. Female authors sometimes had pen names designed to disguise their gender…either by using, say, initials instead of a first name, or by choosing a deliberately male name.

In English, many speakers assume the default is male.

We no longer tend to use the term “authoress” and people don’t say “lady doctor” much any more. I don’t use the term “actress”, unless I have to quote something, like the categories in the Oscars. To me, it singles out female actors as different from “regular actors”. There isn’t a term for male actors like there is for female actors. If you say that the play calls for ten “actors”, that means both the female and male roles. If you say it calls for “six actors and four actresses”, the generic term refers to the males, meaning that “male” is seen as “normal”.

I’ve had readers assume that my now adult kid is male…since that’s the default, I think. I haven’t said either way. 🙂

So, I found this

TNW (The Next Web) post by MIC WRIGHT


It’s about Tegan (AKA BellJarred) who asks men (the article specifically says men) who want to connect to name five female authors they’ve read first.

Actually, the article is a bit confusing. The article says “five books written by female authors”, but part of what they show seems to suggest it is “five female authors”.  That makes a big difference. Anybody who has read the Harry Potter series has read five books written by a female author (Jo Rowling…although the books were published with the gender neutral J.K. Rowling, and I understand that was because of a concern that boys would be less likely to want to read books written by a female author. I find that an odd argument: it’s likely to be the parents/legal guardians of a young child who would make the book buying purchase decisions, especially for something that was relatively expensive like the Harry Potter books. They may have been right about the marketing…but certainly, most book buyers knew that Rowling was female after the first book or so, and the sales did not go down).

The only challenge for me on this would be remembering which authors are female.

I don’t make a book buying decision based on that. I don’t make a book reading choice based on that.

I’m generally not big about an author’s biography…except, perhaps, when it informs nonfiction. If your autobiography is about having been a child soldier, than having been a child soldier is important. 🙂 If it’s a novel, well, for me, it just doesn’t matter.

I experiment with my own mind. 🙂 Years ago, I made an effort not to identify people I met in person by gender. I succeeded. I met someone, and later could not identify their gender to someone else. I know, though, that’s unnatural. It took a form of…self-hypnosis, I suppose, to achieve. I didn’t maintain it, though.

That ability has certainly been useful at times. I don’t like being annoyed (apparently unlike some people on the internet) 😉 and I don’t like conflict. If I find something that irritates me, what I usually do is change that irritation into amusement by reframing it. Then, I’ll smile when I encounter what was a former irritant.

I’ll give you an example.

My Significant Other, who I love very much, tends to put things into places I use as workspaces. We are having our kitchen redone right now…we hadn’t had a working stove for many years, and there were a lot of other issues. We refinanced, and we’re having the kitchen done by Ikea (the look of it and the price of the cabinets are both good…the experience with the contractors, to whom we were connected by Ikea, has not been). That means we have no cabinets, no counter space.

I keep a few spaces clear for food prep. For example, a little corner of a table where we have the microwave and a “third burner”, not even a square foot, is where I prep my oatmeal. 🙂 I put a plastic bag on the lid of the garbage can, so I can put some things there. We have a half wall where I set the dog dishes (small dogs, small dishes), as I get the canned dog food out of the refrigerator (which is in our living room). Next to the sink in the bathroom, I have an area where I clean dishes.

My SO has left things in all of these spaces, I think. 🙂

That’s not done on purpose, consciously, to mess me up. We both need empty spaces…I think these are just convenient.

I used to be irritated to find something in a “clear space” like that.

I reframed it for myself as being like a cat getting in your “warm spot” on a chair when you get up to get something. 🙂

That charms me…and now, I smile when it happens.

My point on all this is that identifying people by gender is natural…arguably, even a species survival requirement (although perhaps, not in all circumstances).

Making the effort to identify female authors I’ve read, I then found it not difficult at all to come up with five. I would guess I could come up with fifty without much effort. Coming up with more than fifty of anything can be difficult. 😉

That goes back to when I was a child, and straight on to the present.

I’ll just throw a few out here, making the point again that I didn’t read them because they were female.

I’m currently reading

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

having just re-read

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

Hm…the name “Harper” isn’t particularly female to me…I wonder if most people who read the first book when it first came out were even aware  of the author’s gender. Sure, TKaM had a female protagonist…but Harry Potter has a male one. Arguably, it’s much more common to find women writing male protagonists than vice versa, though.

I’ve read tons of Agatha Christie. 🙂

I read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.

I think I’d better just start listing some:

  • Anne McCaffrey
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Constance Whyte (nonfiction)
  • Olivia Butler
  • Elaine Morgan (nonfiction)
  • Ruth Plumly Thompson (the second Oz author)
  • Jane Austen
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Mary Wollstonecraft (and not just Frankenstein)
  • Suzanne Collins
  • Kim Harrison

I could keep going on and on.

On all of these, I’m pretty sure they are female. 🙂

Looking at what came to mind, there is some diversity of topic/genre there, although clearly, fantasy/science fiction is up there, and there isn’t as much nonfiction. That may be more a reflection of what I’ve read for fiction (rather than what’s written/published), but I read a lot of nonfiction. I suspect that might actually reflect a publishing…tendency, although I haven’t looked for an analysis.

What do you think? Is requiring that people have read a certain type of author before messaging you a reasonable thing to do? Do you think if someone can name five female authors they have read, it’s predictive of how well you will get along with them? Could you quickly name five female authors you’ve read? How about five authors of a given race? National origin? Is it different to ask the latter two questions than the first one? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


4 Responses to “Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Since I majored in English, I would have no trouble coming up with five authors of either gender, but if you were to ask about books I’d read recently, I’d have a hard time coming up with five male authors. Over the years, I’ve gravitated more towards the female writers.

    Your mention of non fiction made me realize that except for memoirs and autobiographies, I tend not to remember the names of non fiction writers. I look for favorite authors when looking for fiction and favorite topics when looking for non fiction.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!


      I would say I am at least as aware of the identities of non-fiction authors as I am of fiction authors. Rupert Sheldrake, Desmond Morris, Gerald Durrell…those non-fiction authors are authors I specifically want to read, not just because of subject matter.

  2. EJC Says:

    Like Lady Galaxy, I tend towards female authors lately although a quick look at either Amazon or Audible libraries gives huge lists of both male and female. Could I name 5 of each? Certainly. Could I name 10 of each? Probably. Could I name 15 of each? Maybe, but then again I am not great with names unless I read them multiple times.

    I also enjoy both fiction and non-fiction although both tend to gravitate towards one or two genres. Fantasy and history being the top. I have read personal and general history by both male and female authors and don’t see much difference in my preference as long a the writing is good.

    Regarding non-fiction, my gravitation towards female authors has to do with my preference for strong female characters. I read fantasy for escapism and will be pulled completely out of a story by weak characters and therefore lose interest.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, EJC!

      Well, the only thing I’ll say is that I’ve certainly encountered strong female characters written by male authors, too. 🙂

      I agree with you on weak characters…there is a genre of epic fiction where we root for somebody not to do something bad, rather than to do something good. I never enjoy those as much. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: