Big debate – Do men and women write differently?
I think yes. I completed reading Tracy Chevalier’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ yet again (I must have read that book over 5 times already). It is a beautiful piece of work, a lovely read for most. But it also screams out the difference that we are talking about here.
The ratio of books published by men as compared to those by women is skewed in favour of men. It is beyond doubt that men are prolific writers. My notion is that men like describing objects, things, situations, etc in isolation while women are more interested in describing all these things in relation to human emotions. Objects described by women are often conjoined with how a character feels about it. Situations described by women are often the ‘perceptions’ of the characters involved in it.
In fact, if I read my own work, it resonates with my opinion. I find myself writing about simple daily-life issues which affect me as a person. In other words, my emotions drive my work. And my emotions also drive what my characters behave like. I find it rather difficult to decouple the two worlds of which one is my own and the other my creation. I have to be honest. I think men write fiction better. I enjoy the world they create because it is decoupled from their own. The characters are not driven by what the author is in real-life. However, books by women are more human, more elegant. This theory and its implications are trapped in several layers of complexity and it may be beyond my capability to elaborate.
If the notion is right though, it would mean that you could also read the content and predict whether it has been written by a man or a woman. I found it most interesting that there are computer algorithms that attempt to do the same…Gender Genie and Hacker Factor Gender Guesser are two algorithms I found for it. We’ve had quite some authors write under a pen name of the opposite gender. If we could still conjecture the right gender of the authors then the writing styles may indeed be different!
What do you think?