Stereotypes

My novel-reading career started with Dickens’ The Great Expectations when I was five. Since then, I’ve read more than 10,000 books. When I penned my first story at the age of eight, I had come to realize that stereotypes exist in the world of fiction — nothing in most fiction is true to life.

It seems, right from when D.H. Lawrence started writing books on sex, James Joyce started using the most famous four-letter expletive (fuck) and a host of other writers emerged, true literature went down the drain. I understand that they wanted to eliminate the prudishness in the English language, and their efforts were resisted — Lady Chatterly’s Lover was banned, for example — but might not present day writers be taking things a little too far?

In almost every best-seller of today, the hidden rule seems to be, a minimum of one sex scene. I’ve read most of Lawrence’s work and they look pretty prudish compared to what I read nowadays — I imagine writers like Harold Robbins’d get imprisoned in the Victorian era.

Getting back to content, I find more to read in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and in Shakespeare than in the average book. It seems the trend spread into the movies — James Bond is known as ‘Mr Kiss-kiss-bang-bang’ in some countries in Asia.

The Romance Novel

Before I digress, I’d take the classic example of the romance novel. Back when I was six years old, I knew almost all there was to know about some things. I’d sneak romance novels somewhere and read them — forbidden fruit tastes sweeter. With time, I came to hate romance novels, and with good reason.

‘Romance’ objectifies women in many ways that I find disgusting. Personally, I don’t believe love must include sex — in fact I believe it must exclude it — and I find it highly disturbing that romance novels are usually woven around a classic scenario:

A man meets a woman [almost always a virgin] — she’s always highly flustered when he’s around and tries to win his attention. Of course, both of them are good-looking (is it romance if they aren’t?). The man is usually very ‘experienced’ and frollicks with other women under his girl’s nose, making her jealous. If she dares try something like that, he raises hell — the girl’s supposed to stay chaste while he ‘enjoys’ himself.

Inevitably, he forces himself on her — at least that’s what it looks like to me — and one of them ends what could have otherwise landed them in bed. The very next encounter surely involves a sex scene — then they quarrel and separate. On reconcliation, they ‘live happily ever after.’

Suspense, Thrillers and Crime

I loved reading Alistair Maclean until I discovered Sidney Sheldon, then RObert Ludlum and finally, Tom Clancy.

When I look at ‘cases’, is it necessary for example, that there’s a match-making at the end? Must one of the guys be so macho and near-perfect at everything, in addition to being handsome? I read them because they offer lots o insight but I don’t like the relationship part — most writers simply follow trends.

My Resolution

I’ve been reading for twelve years in all now and writing for nine. What have I decided to do with my writing?

I’ve decided to start writing as the opposite sex — something that’s always appealed to me. The one thing I have to brushup on is emotions — women deal more with their feelings than men, who tend to hide theirs — I have to make the cross-over convincing enough for a girl.

Introducing heroines instead of macho heroes is going to be my method. NO sex scenes, no super-amazing feets. Just people going around their daily business as before.

Let’s just hope I get a sizable readership.

Comments

  1. I loved Hardy too, but I don’t know why he switched to poetry because of the severe criticism he recieved for ‘Jude The Obscure.’

    I’ve graduated from Sidney Sheldon — he isn’t such a great writer to begin with.

  2. Nada Najjar says:

    It’s great to experiment by taking the female persona. However, you may need to do some research by tapping into your experiences with women, starting with your mother, sister, women you knew or know, otherwise, whatever role your female characters may take not be convincing to the reader. You may also do a little research as you create your characters by interviewing women and finding out how they would act in situations that you may want to explore. I think it will be an exciting endeavor. We, women need all the support we can get from men to de-commodify us. Good luck!

    Nada Najjar

  3. Thanks Dr Najjar. I got a book that compares and contrasts women’s behavior to that of men. What I read wasn’t surprising — women would rather talk, than bottle up their feelings. There’s also the “herd instinct” — a woman’s greatest fear is being rejected by her fellow women, so she always tries to fit in.

    Unlike men, friendship is also important. I’ll do some going out and studying. Thanks for all the help.

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