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What We Read When We Don’t Read The Internet PRESENTS! Even Transsexual Cowgirls Get the Girl Book Bashing Blues

[What, you thought our Theme Post Party was done? Nuh-UNH! Let's check in with C.L. Minou about her many disreputable past literary lives and how she learned to stop worrying and Trust Women (Writers.)]

There is this narrative, that fits some people–maybe most, I don’t think there’s been a poll–who transition from male to female that goes something like this: oh, from a young age she wanted to be a girl played with dolls only watched Princess videos wanted frilly dresses for her birthday. And like I said, those people definitely exist and thank the Ceiling Cat they’re getting the attention and support they need much more often nowadays.

But it’s not–despite the claims of some of my more, ah, categorical sisters-in-trans, the only way to be trans, or grow up being trans. There is, for instance,  me, who didn’t even crossdress until the age of 13 and then took another 22 years for the pieces to fall into place.

Because if you want to know how fucked up Patriarchy is and what it can do to you, I can’t think of a better example than this: even someone who grew up wanting to be a girl thought that “girl stuff” was stupid.

OK, not completely: I had more stuffed animals than most of my male friends, and after a cross-stitching project in third grade I asked a cross-stitch project for my birthday. (It was a picture of a frog. Afterwards, I used the needle to replace the lightsaber for one of my Luke Skywalker action figures.)  I was probably the only boy in my fourth grade class who had read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I tended to play with my toys in a way that eminent and very, very serious evolutionary psychologists tell us is more typical of how girls play–I constructed deep storylines where the interaction of characters was sometimes more important than what they did. On the other hand, what they did tend to do when they got around to doing anything was to fight and blow stuff up. YM, as they say, MV.

Basically, I think that I was more about not liking traditional boy stuff than I was about liking traditional girl stuff. At least until adolescence, when I simultaneously began to sometimes wear women’s clothing AND like sports and try to socialize myself as a typical boy. Go figure. But this dislike, this aversion to “girl stuff”–some of which, to be fair, was motivated by a fear of being “found out”–extended into what I read. And what I read wasn’t a small matter. As soon as I could read, there were only two things that defined my inner life: I wanted to be a girl, and I read books like other people breathe. (I was doing both around the age of four.) And that literary longing, at least, has no resolution: I was an English major in college, went on to get a graduate degree in that most useful of topics, Literature, and to this day can’t fall asleep without either reading or having sex. Ideally, both. And far too often in my life, I’ve actually preferred turning pages to getting turned on.

Back in my youth I indulged in the most stereotypical of male literature, science fiction, reading it pretty much exclusively for about a decade. It wasn’t all wasted–I got my first bits of sex ed reading New Wave sci-fi–but I don’t need to tell anyone that a lot of what I was reading was so backwards on the matter of gender as to be fucking retrograde. I liked the Big Three a lot: Asimov, Clarke, and god help me, Heinlein–a man who not only thought “all women are the same height–lying down” was a good pickup line, he actually wrote a story where it worked as a pickup line. (I was just aware enough to think that his later stuff was a bit…off, what with the naked-red headed women throwing themselves on old dudes, and that embarrassing bit about homosexuality in Stranger in a Strange Land.) Even when I began (as a junior in high school) to embark on my autodidact tour of the Great Books, I stuck with male authors–and not just male authors, but the most Dudliest of Dudes: Hemmingway (I polished off all his novels my first summer in college), Faulkner (I read Absalom, Absalom! at the age of 17: it took the better part of two decades to finally wash the influence of that book out of my writing), even Roth and Updike. I read the big-dick swinging male hyperstylists with gusto, Pynchon especially. Hell, as late as 2005 I thought Franzen was brilliant. (It’s probably good I never got around to reading Lethem.)

And women authors? Hah. Even when I was reading science fiction exclusively, I didn’t like LeGuin, the most openly feminist sci-fi author. I think I read one book by Cherryh. Octavia Butler? Never heard of her. Seriously. I’d never heard of Octavia Butler until she DIED. And the authors of my Great Books tour could pretty much all use the same restroom: the few female authors I had to read in college, I tended not to care for–in part because a lot of them were 19th century authors and I just didn’t like the “domestic” novels of that period–but I’m not going to deny that it was also part of a fundamental inability to “get” them. Whereas it was easy to read the guys: even if I didn’t really feel like them on the “inside,” I knew how I was supposed to feel–it was everywhere I looked, on TV, in the newspapers, in conversations with my male friends (and they were pretty much all male.) Understanding the inner life of women would require me to, I don’t know, read stuff they wrote, but I closed that off from myself.

During the year-long run-up between my separation from my wife and transition, though, I read some…different books. In Her Shoes. A book for teenage girls to help them understand themselves better, from the ’80s. Some schmaltzy “women’s wisdom” stuff. I think I was flailing about, looking for something to make sense of myself. And then one day, about a month after I started hormones, I was reading The Robber Bride in a pizza restaurant near the Coliseum in Rome. And I realized something about Atwood’s archetypes of Modern Women. I identified with them.

That had never happened before. I’d never identified myself with female characters. And then I realized that I identified with them in a way I’d never done with male characters in books by men.

Maybe transition made me feel like I could legitimately do that. Maybe it was hormones. Maybe it was me finally letting go of the fear of being found out. But that was the beginning. (It took a while; I was also reading the Patrick O’Brien novels at the same time.) Since then, I’ve pretty much reversed myself. I read female authors almost exclusively. I obsess over Atwood. The few sci-fi books I’ve bought in the last year have almost all been by Octavia Butler. When I browse around looking for books at the bookstore, I look specifically for books by women. Because I get them in a way that I just don’t get about books by guys anymore.

Of course, I could just be overcompensating. That pendulum swings both ways, I guess, and maybe now I’m on the reverse of the arc. Maybe it’s another one of my attempts to come closer to the life I think I should have had if only a few things had broken different. Maybe it’s a way to learn more about myself, and the person I have become.

Hell, maybe it’s just another ready-made critique of my gender: you don’t know anything about being a woman except what you read in a book. (I’ll shrug that one off; book-learning has gotten me pretty far in life.)

There are times where my reading history pains me like, well, so much of the rest of my history: when I mourn the lost time, the time wasted, the time when I could have been working on becoming me instead of who I thought I should be. How could I have missed so many great writers? I mean, how could I of all people do that?

But that’s the thing. The idea that men write books, that men’s books are the serious and the popular books, that writing novels–one of the most domestic careers you can have, donchaknow, and one pioneered by women–is somehow super duper manly and books by women not worth the time reading them (or if you must indulge, only light trifles; even the serious female writers are overshadowed by men–Woolf by Joyce, Eliot by James, Austen by…well, nobody, but all that marriage stuff is for sissies anyway) is so pervasive that even I fell for it. Even I, who knew better than most that a manly appearance might be a facade. Who snuffed out the homoeroticism in Hemmingway and Chandler (my god, in Chandler.) Who both liked wearing dresses and was attracted to men.

Even that person, even I, despite–or because?–of all my years reading books in school, thought that reading books by women were a waste of time, that it was a just universe where Cormac McCarthy is taught to graduate students and Margaret Atwood isn’t. Where The Awakening is taught, you grow to suspect, not because it is a superb example of early American modernism written by a remarkable woman but because Edna Pontellier gets what’s coming to her at the end. Where John Updike’s prolific dissections of small-town philistinism are lauded “despite” the ugly misogyny that runs through them but Eudora Welty gets sidetracked to extension courses. Where the one Shirley Jackson story everyone gets taught is the one with a brutal murder. Where Flannery O’Connor gets brought up not because of her brilliant portraiture of the South–which managed to not win her the Nobel Prize–but because her stories are grotesque. Where Sylvia Plath is a tortured soul married to a genius, not the other way around. Where the women who touch on “boy subjects” get mentioned usually only in reference to male authors, and the women who don’t aren’t mentioned at all.

That’s the world I accepted. That’s the world that was taught to me, and that’s the world I learned about on my own. That’s the world I believed in, betraying myself as I did so, engaging in smug denials of “canon reclamation” and God help me probably a few “where are the great women writers, then?” (I can’t even claim refuge in the fact that I was a graduate student back then, and thus pretty much required to be an asshole; I think  it was in the course description as a Core Requirement for my degree.)

Anyway, I’m not that person now.

The kind of person I am now is the kind of person who feels stifled in bookstores, reading all the male names on the spines of the books, the kind of person who has the awful fear of having her own voice drowned out by the murmuring shouts of the Boy Books Booster Section. Who tries to be just a little be braver, just a little bit truer to herself, and to be like the women in the books she once despised.

57 Comments

  1. Kate wrote:

    I am realising how many of the books I read are by men, and how many of the ones by women are my ‘comfort’ or ‘guilty pleasure’ books. Maybe, I am starting to think, that is because I LIKE them more? Because I find them easier to read and identify with, even the ones that count as ‘literature’. Except for the ones, it turns out, that are boy books written by women.

    I thought this was going to be about Tom Robbins, for obvious reasons. My initial reaction was a thrill and then fear. Because I love Tom Robbins, and my adolescent self has him to thank for many enjoyable moments and personal epiphanies. But I have not managed to make it through an entire Robbins as an adult. Partly because I am just not as much of a reader these days, but mostly because I find some of his stuff highly, HIGHLY problematic, at the same time as I am finding it validating and/or thought provoking. Especially Fierce Invalids. I just… don’t know that I can get past all the icky bits in that plot line. I don’t know if that makes me a bad reader or a good one.

    Does anyone feel like addressing this?

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink
  2. anotheramanda wrote:

    I’m sad to say that I still hadn’t heard of Octavia Butler, but I have google searched her and now I’m going to go read Lilith’s Brood.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink
  3. Lavinia wrote:

    I think this post is a great discussion of the depressing truth facing all aspiring non-male writers. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m considering using a male pseudonym if I ever do publish any of my stories. In a world where non-male literary writers are so belittled and ignored, it feels like that might be the only way to achieve any sort of success.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Gayle Force wrote:

    Oh, Tom Robbins. I can’t read his books, because they are so fucking misogynistic. I’ve tried three different times, with three different books, because people I know and love have endorsed them, and always they get thrown across the room about fifty pages in (the books. Not the people I love).

    Great points here, especially the categorical exclusion of women writers from the canon. And NOT on point for a comment, but: I think Lethem is very good, and worth reading. He is not like Franzen, who epitomizes contemporary dudelit for me.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Permalink
  5. Lindsay wrote:

    Awesome post, C.L. Minou!

    My book-reading odyssey has been a lot like yours — I never actively *spurned* women’s writing, but until the last few years or so I just never seemed to read anywhere near as many books by women as by men.

    I am still a humongous science-fiction fan, though; I’ve just added more science fiction written by women, like Ursula LeGuin, Sheri S. Tepper, Octavia Butler, Marge Piercy etc.

    I also think Margaret Atwood may be my favorite writer ever. I love her books, and actually Robber Bride may be my favorite one of hers!

    Finally, I’m going to join Gayle Force in sticking up for Jonathan Lethem. I think he’s very good, and get a huge kick out of his offbeat not-quite-realism and wacky characters. What I’ve read of his doesn’t include very many female characters, though.

    (I also have a complicated relationship with older science-fiction writers like Robert A. Heinlein and Larry Niven. There are aspects of their writing that I really love — especially Niven’s — and Stranger in a Strange Land is very dear to my heart, but they’re so incredibly sexist! I’m not done with either author, but I do have to take them in small doses.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 12:28 am | Permalink
  6. Andy wrote:

    Who was Sylvia Plath’s husband?

    Also, what do yall think of Mary Shelley? I haven’t read any of her work except for bits of Frankenstein but she always seemed like one of those really brilliant and Important women writers who never get the credit they deserve.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 12:42 am | Permalink
  7. Jezebella wrote:

    I believe it is impossible to read Tom Robbins after one’s feminist awakening. LOVED him as an undergrad baby feminist. Cannot STAND his books any longer.

    But! Margaret Atwood, holy shit. I will go to the mat with anyone for her: she is the greatest living writer in the English language working today. She has breadth, depth, wordsmithing, great plots, diversity, novels, short fiction, poetry, whipsmart political insight, and brilliant character crafting. Nobody working today can write in as many different genres as she can. And you know, unlike the dudes of ManFiction, her books aren’t all about *her*. They’re about everybody else. She guested in my fiction writing seminar when I was an undergrad, and she was terrifying in that brutally pleasant way the best writing teachers are.

    @Andy, Sylvia Plath’s husband was Ted Hughes, a poet laureate in the UK. Read their contemporaneous poetry side by side and it’s chilling – his has all these poems about predators, hers about being eaten alive. No shit.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 1:27 am | Permalink
  8. Alden wrote:

    C.L., my immense sympathies for getting caught up in that BS.

    I think I’m extremely lucky in living where I live (southern Ontario, Canada), because Atwood is basically a requirement here. You can’t get out of highschool without reading at least one Atwood, which made me happy because by the time I graduated I’d devoured everything of hers I could find. Canada’s so threatened by the cultural mammoth of the US that we cling to our famous authors, so Atwood is pretty much the head of our pantheon. And the books I’ve been asked to read in uni are largely books by excellent women writers: Anne Carson, Mary Shelley, Zora Neale Hurston, Adele Wiseman and Carol Shield (though, admittedly, those last three were for an explicitly feminist course). The only male fiction I was asked to read was a graphic novelist, so it seems I’ve happily dodged the entire Canon. Thank God.

    I’m actually having a hard time defining books written by men that I’ve actually read and loved. My tweenhood was owned by K.A. Applegate, Tamora Pierce and (obvs) J.K. Rowling, my teenage years dominated by Atwood, Janet Fitch and Laura Joh Rowland. How can anyone question that women stand equal to men, even with centuries of their voice being devalued? It’s boggling to me.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink
  9. assassin wrote:

    jezebella, team atwood all the way, baby! despite being a voracious reader of science fiction (including le guin and butler even!), i had never heard of her until a college course and my god did the handmaid’s tale blow my fucking booze-addled, collegiate mind and i’ve been hooked ever since.

    i will make a confession now, that has come upon me, even as a Certified Feminist Lady and Person Closer to 30 than 20 Now, which has come to me after reading a lot of tiger beatdown and that is that even though i totally get down with the poehlers and the hannas and the valentis and the gagas and the deschanels and the didions and the austens and the doyles, the majority of media that i consume in my day to day life is created by men. the revelation was that maybe i should actively seek out female-created stuff for awhile.

    stay tuned, but this blog has quite possibly inspired me to do a Year of Ladies in my life whereby i restrict my media consumption to that which hath been born of woman, so to speak.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 2:49 am | Permalink
  10. KayJay wrote:

    I must have gone to a very enlightened public high school (especially considering it was in the Bible Belt) because my high school english classes were filled with Leslie Marmon Silko, Toni Morrison, Kate Chopin, Zora Neale Hurston, the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley, Alice Walker, and Maxine Hong Kingston to name those I can remember. Of course we also read Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald and Salinger, none of whom I could ever get through. I’m not just saying that as a statement of my all mighty feminist-ness. I just couldn’t connect to any of the characters. I remember reading Catcher in the Rye in 10th grade and it seemed like EVERYONE had some kind of life altering relationship with that book and I just didn’t get it. I found no redeeming qualities in Holden Caulfield, which I know saying that is, like, SACRILEGE or something. But when I read Morrison and Silko for the first time I had never realized you could DO that with language and that books weren’t just stories about characters, they could encapsulate so many worlds and ideas and emotions (uh oh not emotions! the author must have been on her period when she wrote it!) Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of authors I like who don’t have a vagina, but none of them led me to a 15 year old me having an epiphany about the nature of language. So, I guess I should go look up my high school english teacher and thank him, yes HIM (the good ones are out there, I promise) for creating my chick lit addiction.

    side note: Something that’s always kind of annoyed me is the fact that A Doll’s House written in 1879 by a man is considered a revolutionary work because the wife leaves her husband. But on the whole The Tenant of Wildfell Hall written in 1848 by a woman, about a wife who leaves her husband and lives independently with her son, is ignored. Is it because A Doll’s House was a play and was able to reach both literary and theater audiences? Or is a feminist statement more acceptable when it comes from a man? Both works were censored and condemned when they first came out, but why is one celebrated now and the other largely ignored(at least in my experience)?

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 4:02 am | Permalink
  11. doublenerds wrote:

    Thanks for this post, C.L. And Assassin, I totally love your idea. Although I suspect that it might shut you out of a heck of lot of television and film, if you are looking for media with female writers and directors.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  12. C.L. Minou wrote:

    Thanks all for the Atwood love! I just read Lady Oracle last month and whoooo girl, is that an amazing novel on so many levels! Yet at least when I was in school, she wasn’t taught often–mostly token readings of The Handmaid’s Tale, which while awesome, isn’t her best novel. (FWIW, The Blind Assassin probably is, but it’s an embarrassment of riches.)

    I did read Hurston for one class as an undergrad; it was taught by the same professor who did a major unit on Bishop when I took his poetry class. So there were some female writers I encountered (I had Eliot and Austen in another class), but there are a lot of issues with the canon to this day. (I mean, people are going to teach Updike and Roth as more than just historical curiosities :)

    As for Niven, I’ve always loved the Known Space stories (even with their issues), but the more I learn about him the more depressed and disgusted with him I become–Shakesville linked to a vile quote of his today, and I wrote my own take on a curious omission in The Mote in God’s Eye.

    (Confession: I haven’t read any Robbins. But he does write good titles :)

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:01 am | Permalink
  13. Elysia wrote:

    C.L., I’m curious about your thoughts on Heinlein. I have to say that I don’t agree with some of his portrayals of women, for sure (and have read only a fraction of his works), but Friday helped me feel like I could be the kickass woman I dreamed about, even if the last chapter made me wince from the first time I read it as a teen. (I treat his juveniles as an exercise in sociology.)

    My favorite male sci-fi author who doesn’t make me feel squicky about women or society is, far and away, Spider Robinson. (FA! Sex positivity! Humanity!) One of my favorite female-authored books is China Mountain Zhang, by Maureen McHugh, although the scientist in me is a LeGuin and Butler fan. (I was lucky enough to get turned on to that as an undergrad at a decidedly feminist institution – Octavia Butler was one of our guest speakers, and having been a fan of hers for years by that point, I nearly swooned. She kind of laughed at me, but she signed my book!)

    Anyways, thank you sooo much for this post! Perhaps oddly, it makes me grateful that my dad guided me towards plenty of women authors in my young sci-fi fandom. I am also glad you are finding awesome lit by women, and am adding to my “to read” list!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink
  14. Courtney wrote:

    This is exactly why I stopped reading fiction! It’s near impossible to find women writers. If you manage to stumble on them in your local mega bookstore, you’ll find exactly one copy of one book. Outside of shelf reading romance novels exclusively (which are alienating in a whole different way- WHERE ARE ALL THE GAYS? I am starting to think that B&N wants me to die alone :( …) women writers are few and far between.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  15. Jane wrote:

    I’m not CL, but I’m ready to rag on Heinlein any time. (Yes, I read them obssessively at one time, how did you guess?)

    From Stranger in a Strange Land onward, we get an increasingly insistent kind of evopsych/evo-beauty-myth, that the best women are geniuses, with small waists, long flowing hair, athletic ability, pale skin, large brilliant eyes, big boobs, and an overpowering sexual attraction to, well, Heinlein. Or to whatever Marty Stus he’s plunked into the books, who come in two flavors: crabby old man with witticisms and average-looking guy with a job, which the women never have except as decoration (several characters have titles like “physicist” but are never caught doing their jobs in preference to doing their hair). All women like small fuzzy animals and pretty things and men who want to protect them. All men like kittens and computers and want to protect women and children, though they rarely do the nitty-gritty of childcare…hmm, nor do the women. I don’t know WHO actually cleans up after and feeds Heinlein children. Perhaps they are all raised by wolves.

    There is seriously a scene–actually, a series of scenes–in The Number of the Beast in which gorgeous women characters neck with new acquaintances to find out whether the newbies are trustworthy or not, because they can tell by kissing. New women added to the group already know this technique. Because women are intuitive that way. One of the major characters is an intuitive mathematician, I think, which seems to mean that she knows the answers without having to do computations.

    I still do like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress as a guilty pleasure and because there’s only one major woman character, which allows me to pretend that she is not identical with all other late-Heinlein women, but just a bit silly and quirky. Also, I like the computer. Still, as commenters above were saying about Robbins, I’m less and less able to read the whole book.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  16. Anonyme wrote:

    C. L. Minou: Your comments on books were particularly interesting to me because my path to transition was a little like yours – only with even less outward girliness at a young age.

    The arc of my reading is a little different from yours, perhaps because I’m in the hard sciences. So my literary education is minimal, just what I’ve stumbled across here and there, and my affection for science fiction remains. I think, in retrospect, I enjoyed Niven, Heinlein, and so on more because of their worlds than because of their people, if you see what I mean. (Well, I’ll grant that my views of sex and gender were unenlightened and I tried not to think about them. But it was the spaceships that I was reading for.) These days, without ever quite making a conscious effort, I read almost exclusively female writers.

    Among science fiction writers, I’m surprised there haven’t been more mentions of Lois McMaster Bujold. Her writing isn’t explicitly feminist in the way that Le Guin’s is, but systems of oppression, and how people live within them, are a central feature. And she writes so *well*!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  17. Kat wrote:

    C.L. – Have you heard of WisCon? I just got back from that sci-fi/fantasy feminist conference and I think you might love it. A lot!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink
  18. sarita wrote:

    “even someone who grew up wanting to be a girl thought that “girl stuff” was stupid.”

    Oh, well, a fair number of those of us born girls grew up thinking “girl stuff” was stupid, loathing pink, etc.

    lavinia, I can’t believe that’s still an option worth contemplating in this day and age. But you’re right that it is. Gah.

    I have some Olivia Butler waiting for me on my bookshelf… I shall bump it to the front of my mental queue.

    Courtney – I was just about to recommend one of my favorite female (and queer) authored books, for those of us who kind of dig John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels… do you know The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith? There are (to date) three books in the series, starring a badass chick who is queer as a matter of course, and while they may not be literary they are riveting.

    Griffith has also written some sci fi which I enjoyed – Slow River, Ammonite. You can read excerpts of several works on her website. http://www.nicolagriffith.com/

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  19. Jezebella wrote:

    Courtney, you’re not looking very hard if you “can’t find” any women authors. Forget the big box stores, they mostly just carry what they can sell. Make an effort, and you’ll have a reading list a mile long within a week. If you don’t want to buy, request them from your public library. Reading doesn’t have to be expensive.

    Apropos of women-authored sci-fi, is this GIANT thread from IBTP a few years back: http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2007/03/05/psst-over-here-this-is-the-thread-for-sci-fi-geeks/

    One will find numerous recommendations in that thread, if you can wade through it.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  20. fshk wrote:

    I also have a dread English Literature degree, though I think I had a far different education; I took the opportunity to do some interdisciplinary work in English and Women’s Studies, then wrote a thesis on female characters in Toni Morrison novels who behave outside of traditional gender norms. (And I love Atwood too, guys, but Toni Morrison!)

    I think part of the problem is that women get a bad rap for writing “women’s fiction.” I met Erica Jong once, and we had a whole conversation (my heart almost exploded, I’m amazed I was composed enough to speak sentences) about how reductive the “chick lit” label was, how basically a lot of publishers were slapping pink covers on good books and calling them “chick lit” as a way to differentiate them from “real literature” which, as we know, is written by straight white dudes. So, a woman can write a gorgeous, thought-provoking novel, but, because it contains a romantic relationship or is about childbirth or women’s experiences or what have you, it’s “women’s fiction.” In other words, these books are for women, who are silly creatures who read things like Harlequin romance novels and don’t know about literature. (Um, what? Sorry, didn’t mean to rant there.)

    Courtney, there are a lot of really fantastic women writers who are not mentioned here. Morrison, Sarah Waters, Louise Erdrich, just to name a few of my favorites. Also, gay romance is exploding right now, but you’d never know if you only got your books from B&N. A bunch of small indie publishers are putting out some really fantastic, fun, well-written, subversive romance (if that is your thing), and it’s my understanding that gay romances have been selling especially well. (A lot of them are only available as ebooks, though, which is maybe limiting their visibility.) And the Lambda Literary Awards just happened, like, a week ago; Google the nominees if you want some good stuff written by LGBT writers.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  21. Other Becky wrote:

    Ooh, Octavia Butler. Lois McMaster Bujold. Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Margaret Atwood!

    Sorry. Got a little carried away.

    For those who like both manners novels and science fiction, may I also recommend the joint works of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller?

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  22. laura k wrote:

    When I got to the paragraph in which you mention feeling ashamed of your reading history, the bells went off for me. But the reading history I’m ashamed of is vastly different from yours: I also great up a voracious reader, but I read a lot of utter CRAP, throwaway teenage romances whose names aren’t even worth remembering now. And teenage self-help. I read the books that were, I think, the most stringently about teaching girls who to be Girls, the worst kind of girls they could be, boy and weight obsessed and mostly self-loathing. And I learned it all, alright.

    Now, I look back and feel so much anger that I didn’t read better books, even better books for young people. Sure, I read Judy Blume and Paula Danziger and Island of the Blue Dolphins and Witch of Blackbird Pond. But I really loved those awful, awful trashy teenage romances.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink
  23. laura k wrote:

    Wow, apparently the typos in my comments are far worse before 10 am.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  24. Victoria wrote:

    @FSHK “how basically a lot of publishers were slapping pink covers on good books and calling them “chick lit” as a way to differentiate them from “real literature” which, as we know, is written by straight white dudes”

    There was a really interesting panel on this a couple of AWP conferences ago, with Julianna Baggott (lovely lady writer) and lots of other great folks. They talked about how, in addition to this rampant mislabeling, it’s a disservice to the books and to readers because they buy them expecting romance and get serious stories and aren’t satisfied. It’s a bad deal all around that serves nobody well.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  25. alanna wrote:

    “Even when I was reading science fiction exclusively, I didn’t like LeGuin…”

    Aaaaaand that’s when I clicked “close tab”!

    No, just kidding. Great stuff, C.L. Thank you so much for this post.

    My own most embarrassing-in-hindsight reading: “A Spell for Chameleon” by Piers Anthony. (Um, along with almost everything else he’d written, but “Spell” was the one that made me realize I had terrible taste in my youth.) I’d first read it in seventh grade, I think? And loved it enough to read all the other Xanth books I could find in the library. A good 8 years or so later I found a used copy in a bookstore and bought it in a fit of nostalgia. And then I discovered that 1) one of the characters is a woman who swings between ugly-and-smart and gorgeous-and-stupid. Monthly. Yeah. And 2) that a major part of the plot centered around the main character successfully arguing that a man who’d been accused of rape must be innocent because his accuser was a slut.

    I threw the (paperback!) book across the room so hard, it left a dent in the wall.

    On another topic, and without this comment deteriorating completely into a list of things I like: I enthusiastically second the recommendations of Nicola Griffith and Sarah Waters. I’ll add Sarah Hall to that list – personally I’ve only read “Daughters of the North” but it blew my mind. Also, China Mieville – particularly his New Crobuzon books – like Anonyme’s description of Bujold, his work is all about “systems of oppression and how people live within them”.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink
  26. Jen wrote:

    I have to admit, I have read far fewer female fantasy and sci-fi authors than I should. I’m also not nearly as diligent in paying attention to who the author of a work is, either.

    In the few lit classes I took, however, we actually read female authors almost exclusively.
    Between Fem-lit and lit, however, I was far more impressed with how my lit teacher treated these authors (As legitimate authors. My fem-lit class treated them as “women who write” if that makes any sense)

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  27. Laima wrote:

    Another voracious-reader-since-age-4 here. Esp love sci-fi & fantasy, but I’ve sort of organically drifted away from male authors. Not only are they usually unconsciously sexist, but even a few that I really like clearly think women exist to be foils for men – we have no autonomous reality. (Looking at you, Guy Gavriel Kay. Delicious prose, but no idea that women are people, just like men are.)

    I recommend Sheri S. Tepper, Kim Antieau, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Lois McMaster Bujold, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Nicole Griffith, Joan Slonczewski, Diana Wynne Jones, Sarah Monette, Starhawk, Laurie J. Marks, Kage Baker, Suzette Haden Elgin, Connie Willis, and Emma Bull. All have old favorites I re-read regularly.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink
  28. Mel wrote:

    I just don’t get most books written by men, and while I read only about 2/3 women, the percentage of books I really enjoy and love is much more heavily skewed to women writers. (I have also never had a problem finding women writers in big box bookstores. Writers of color in my favorite genres, yes.)

    I’m a cis woman who gave her Barbies cocktail swords and had them fight Evil Ken AND cross-stitched and made dollhouse miniatures growing up, fwiw.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
  29. rowmyboat wrote:

    A note on Sarah Hall’s “Daughters of the North” — in the UK and some other non-USA places, it’s called “The Carhullan Army.”

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink
  30. Donna L. wrote:

    CL, I think you know what a voracious reader I am, and I never limited myself to male authors, even growing up as a boy. (I was careful not to read books with *only* girls as characters, so I concentrated on authors like Edith Nesbit and PL Travers as a child.)

    But during my transition, I think I read everything ever written by both Margaret Atwood (who’s my current favorite living author, and has been for years!) and Marge Piercy (who isn’t Atwood, but still has written some very good books about women’s lives). Like you, it really struck me how much I identified with some of the women characters in their books, at a visceral level. I think it helped give me the courage actually to go forward with what I was doing.

    I think Robber Bride might be Atwood’s best book too, but there are so many to choose from! I loved Year of the Flood, her newest book. (Speaking of science fiction!) And Cat’s Eye was amazing, too.

    Of course, if you read books from the mystery section rather than science fiction, you’ll find dozens of famous women writers. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Ruth Rendell. Who reminds me a little of Patricia Highsmith.

    Didn’t Heinlein write a book about an old man who has his brain transplanted into a woman’s body? I remember surreptitiously looking through that one in a bookstore, solely because of that plot element.

    I do still read male authors, though. I always have to be reading something, or I feel completely out of sorts. Although I try to stay away from flagrant misogyny. I never was able to get through a Philip Roth book. Or Norman Mailer, oy!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
  31. Brimstone wrote:

    Have you read any James Tiptree Jr/Alice Sheldon? Awesome female sci-fi writer. Hell, awesome sci-fi writer in general. Wrote those great 60s weird/high concept New Wave style stories
    check out The Screwfly Solution or The Girl Who Was Plugged In

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink
  32. Ophelia wrote:

    I didn’t cross dress until about a year ago, so talk about catching up :p.

    Like Alanna, I read so much Anthony in middle school. I know a lot more about puns now, but I don’t even want to think about revisiting him.

    Now K.A. Applegate, I ate Animorphs and Everworld up. I imagine I’d feel a bit better about those (especially the latter) in retrospect.

    Out of curiosity, it sounds like a lot folks weren’t exposed to many female writers in their adolescence (or, as in Alden’s case, they were notably for specific reasons in high school), so I thought I’d list the women authors (of novels) I remember being assigned in high school and I was wondering what others’ experiences were. (Graduated from high school in 2005, for reference.)

    Harper Lee, TKAM
    Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
    Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
    Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
    Pearl Buck, The Hood Earth
    Kate Chopin, The Awakening
    Edith Hamilton, Mythology
    Olive Ann Burns, Cold Sassy Tree

    The guys definitely outnumbered the gals, but that’s hardly “just The Awakening” (which, in retrospect, “awakened” more in me than I ever recognize at the time). Including Ayn Rand also reminds me that “dudelit” is not the province of male writers alone.

    Anyway, I’ve taught high school (poorly, but it happened), so it’s of particular interest to me. Hopefully this isn’t a derailment.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
  33. JMS wrote:

    Some more great women SF/F writers who haven’t been mentioned yet: C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Andre Norton, Nancy Kress, Judith Merril, Pat Cadigan.

    And some newer writers I love include N.K. Jemisin, Ekaterina Sedia, Eugie Foster, Catherynne Valente.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink
  34. Sungold wrote:

    I’m not sure what I enjoyed more – this post or all the other Atwood fans chiming in!

    C.L., I’ll agree with you on The Handmaid’s Tale not being her best – though when I revisited it a couple of years ago (having first read it when it came out), I was amazed at how prescient it was.

    But hands down, my favorite is Cat’s Eye. Maybe that one’s a little harder to relate to if you didn’t grow up a girl, among other girls’ poisonous behavior. I related to it all too well! And maybe that’s why I rejected “girly stuff,” myself, for many years, associating it with the girls who’d crush anyone to prove their femininity and popularity …

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink
  35. Christianne wrote:

    I don’t think I ever actually discriminated against female authors when I was young. My second favorite book when I was a wee tot was Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Wilhouby chase (my favorite was The Marvelous Land of Oz, which is a powerful wish fantasy for transgender youth). Even when I was devouring seriously manly SF and fantasy–Robert Howard and Robert Heinlein, for example–I sought out Joanna Russ’s The Female Man for the promise of its title, only to find myself seriously grooving on its heroine.

    Apropos of nothing, my favorite Flannery O’Connor-ism is this one from Mystery and Manners: “Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.”

    Followed by this, from one of her letters: “I hope they’re not making you read Ayn Rand. That woman makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoyevsky.”

    Also apropos of nothing: my therapist suggested I read some books by female authors as part of my transition. The first one she recommended was The Red Tent, which I had already read. The second was something by Kris Radish that convinced me that my therapist and I were not going to see eye to eye on literary matters.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 1:26 am | Permalink
  36. Zoe wrote:

    Awesome post! Really enjoyed reading it and nodded in recognition many, many times!

    I want to add my love of Atwood to the list, and mention another fabulous author – Angela Carter. Anyone read any? Lovely, intricate prose and exciting gender-y stuff going on there.

    Also, thanks, everyone else, for your suggestions! Must expand my reading list …

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  37. Jezebella wrote:

    Ophelia, I graduated from high school in 1984, and the one and only book I was assigned by a woman was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m glad to see that some high schools have added a few more women to the curriculum, but it’s been a long slow steady slog – constantly fighting the patriarchs – to get women into the curriculum.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  38. Donna L. wrote:

    Christianne, I read the Land of Oz when I was about 6, and the transformation scene at the end made such a powerful impression on me that I still remember it almost verbatim. It gave voice to desires I already had within me.

    And, like the Scarecrow said about Ozma as compared to Tip, I really am still just the same — only different.

    PS: Sungold, Cat’s Eye might be my favorite, too. I don’t think you have to have been raised female to relate strongly to the childhood sections of that book. I think they resonate with anyone who felt like, and was treated as, an outsider as a child.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink
  39. Samantha b. wrote:

    Is it derail-y to ask if anyone knows about this lady author Jonathan Franzen writes about for the NYTBR, Christina Stead:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/books/review/Franzen-t.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

    Je suis intrigued, but I’ve never heard a damn thing about her previous. (I don’t have a good bookstore to browse shit at, now that I’m boonies-bound.)

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink
  40. Melissa wrote:

    I always noticed that so many “I didn’t play with girls’ toys” women weren’t content to simply not care for them or like something else better. It seemed like they felt compelled to hold them in some kind of black, utter disgust.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink
  41. queen emily wrote:

    Interesting post – precisely because it’s the polar opposite of my experience. Internalised misogyny and transphobia take some odd twists.

    *obligatory point about how I think that trans women very often have girlhoods, albeit those of a different kind. Not that my experience is universal, or that other trans women don’t experience it differently, but it bothers me when cis people assume that trans women necessarily “grow up boys” in any unproblematic way. Describe my childhood as boyhood and Face My Wrath. Moving on…

    When I was a girl, I read practically everything I could. We didn’t have a TV so we went to the library every week. Anyway, all the usual Anglo-American suspects (Judy Blume, Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, girl’s school stories ala Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers, Nancy Drew) were a large part of my reading diet, and I think that they gave me an opportunity for identification, a way of vicariously experiencing cis girlhood. And whatever the political issues with all of those, for me it was a pretty powerful form of investment, even though I didn’t even have the words for what I was (“I am a trans woman).

    So I think that we don’t even need particularly feminist, wish-fulfillmenty or utopian texts to find sources of identification as women…

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  42. queen emily wrote:

    Also, can we get some more love for Non North American continent female authors?

    Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai are both amazing. God of Small Things is heartbreaking, while Inheritance of Loss is packed with all kinds of details about immigration and diasporic life.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  43. Sarah TX wrote:

    a Year of Ladies in my life whereby i restrict my media consumption to that which hath been born of woman, so to speak.

    Umm… yes? Can we have some sort of media club for this?? Because I have been contemplating it For Awhile but find it hard to break out of my little cocoon of Lady Thinkers That I Already Enjoy.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
  44. Donna L. wrote:

    Not North American: Zadie Smith. White Teeth.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink
  45. Donna L. wrote:

    And I don’t know why I forgot to mention Toni Morrison among the women authors I love and admire. A woman author who is now unquestionably part of the “canon.” My son certainly read her in his high school English classes. And she did win the Noble Prize, and Beloved was named the best work of American fiction of the last 25 years in that New York Times poll a few years ago. You can see the entire list at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/21/books/fiction-25-years.html?ex=1305864000&en=d3f9cc78ce4c00b7&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss. Not too many other women among the authors represented, I’m afraid.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink
  46. C.L. Minou wrote:

    @Donna L.: Yeah, I was thinking of Morrison. The Amereurocentricity of my list of abused canon was mostly about my own education and lack of experience with more non-North American authors. (To be fair, my MA WAS in American Literature.) Expanding my own canon beyond North America is a slow-moving personal process, mostly because of my own laziness; it takes more effort to push out past my own background, find good translations, etc etc etc. Like I said, laziness, though I do plan to at least track down some Fanon soon.

    @Queen Emily: Yar, I get what you’re saying. As may be noted by my frequent use of the first-person singular, this was my own anecdotal experience :)

    It’s one of those flip side of the coin not being any better things: I totally grok how implying that your childhood was masculine is erasing your experience, just like folks might use my rather more cis-typical childhood as an indictment of my current womanhood. (I’ve even gotten that from trans women; I can’t count how many times a trans woman who transitioned at a younger age than me has been rather smug towards my midlife transition–a sort of Realer Rabbit competition.)

    I’d hesitate to call my childhood “male” in that, well, it wasn’t, not really, because I wasn’t cis, and no matter what I might have done or appeared to be on the outside, my internal experience was never the same as it would be for a cis person. Still, I had a fairly long life where I presented as male, and I don’t disregard that (I mean, not only was I once a Boy Scout, but the only two camping trips I went on were the ones where we got to shoot guns.)

    But I can only speak for myself. Do I worry that talking about my past will somehow make it easier for the hateful to point fingers at all trans women and say “see? they’re all [I won't say it because why? Those folks are too eager to do that for me].” Sure, although more in the way that, say, a modern woman critiquing a major feminist icon of a prior era might worry about handing ammunition to the haters. But I can only write what I know, and my own story of womanhood is one that isn’t any more or less valid than any other woman’s.

    Anyway, in a world where there’s Chloe Prince, I’m hardly the transsexual doing the real damage.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink
  47. queen emily wrote:

    Oh no, I absolutely wasn’t reading you as making the One Twoo Trans Childhood Story or whatever. I didn’t mean to imply that your experiences are any less valid, course not, or that you shouldn’t speak about those aspects which cis people might use for a gotcha! Cos I mean, let’s face it, that’s practically everything innit?

    The need to Not Let Down the Team does its own kind of damage, especially when we police it.. We’re rough on each other, trans women, even apart from the Special Women’s Brigade that is HBS.

    Just to be clear: I was more directing that specific comment about girlhoods at the general thrust of the thread and a couple of comments that bothered me. It’s the difference between “male-assigned” (which I’m perfectly fine with, given that it registers cis power in both institutional and social aspects, passing-as-male privilege etc) to “born male” (which is an ontological statement that annoys the shit out of me and is made to harmful transphobic work).

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  48. C.L. Minou wrote:

    @QE: No worries :)

    It’s a slightly sore spot with me (and one of the reasons I stopped hanging out at a prominent trans board for Gen Xers, ahem), the You’re Not Queer/Trans/Woman enough (since you’re not as queer/trans/female as me or not for as long as me) which is frustrating enough coming from straight or cis people, let alone other trans folks.

    The whole issue of past history is so complicated. I mean, I’m proud of a lot of the things I did pre-transition–I actually got paid for writing, for one thing–but at the same time, I’m not really into talking about the whole 3.5 decades of presenting and even sometimes thinking of myself as male (or at least, thinking that I should think of myself that way. Who says it’s only the cis guys who can do the self-referential trip in their writing?) Of course, my solution is to TALK ALL ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET, which seemed fine when I was just somebody with an unread blog but has had somewhat…mixed results now that I occasionally meet people who’ve read my work and therefore know all about me and my transness. (Then on top of that, I’m now working for the first time in person with people whom–I assume–don’t know I’m trans. Bloody merrygoround, my life, innit?)

    Yanno, and to not get toooo pedantic, but this is an example of how transness is a feminist issue? ‘Cos look at the gender policing even between trans folks. It’s another “patriarchy hurts everyone” thing, which is a trope that can be exasperating to keep hearing. Especially because it’s true :)

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Permalink
  49. Donna L. wrote:

    I can’t believe I wrote the “Noble Prize.” I do know better!

    CL and Queen Emily, I also try to avoid saying things like “born male,” out of principle. But I was certainly assigned male, and raised as a boy, and read lots of books primarily about boys. Even though, as CL points out, it’s a huge mistake to assume that a trans woman raised as a boy had a “boyhood” in remotely the same sense as a non-trans man raised as such.

    Of course, I stay away from discussions like that with my son, since to say I was never a “man” — and I really don’t think I was, not truly — effectively dismisses and negates his own childhood experience of knowing me only as his dad. And why would I want to do that?

    Sorry for the digression. I was thinking earlier today that when I used to read books with either male or female protagonists when I was living, it was hard for me to identify with either. I was far more likely to identify with, say, the heroine’s feckless younger brother. The one who usually dies around two-thirds of the way through the book. Which says something, I suppose, about what I thought of myself as a guy.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink
  50. Donna L. wrote:

    “when I was living as a guy.” I’m still living in general, the last time I checked.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
  51. Sara wrote:

    @ Alanna and Ophelia: I don’t know anyone who read Anthony in their youth (male or female) who isn’t embarrassed by it now. If we want to talk about an author who is All About the Boner, he would be one of the worst extremes.

    The Virtual Mode series was the end of my reading of him, after the sexy cat hybrid told the 14 year old girl that she had no choice but to be raped. And let’s not forget the book Firefly, in which the 8 year old molests the noble, good-guy pedophile? Icky doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    I think we all get a pass on that if we were too young to understand the ramifications.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink
  52. Eva wrote:

    Not sci-fi, but if you want uncompromising honesty, intensity, and totally ‘non chick lit’ female authors, I can recommend no better than Lionel Shriver and Curtis Sittenfeld.

    Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 2:17 am | Permalink
  53. Muse of Ire wrote:

    @Donna L, the Heinlein book you are thinking of is I Will Fear No Evil. I dug on it as an adolescent, but when I reencountered it recently, the thought of rereading it made me shudder.

    Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  54. bluemorpho wrote:

    @Jezebella, re: Tom Robbins, cosign. I truly loved his books for years, but a couple of evolutionary cycles later, I can’t read any of his work without seeing this stomach-churningly awful trope of pretty little ladies who need an unusual and unhygienic male to open their minds to Truth and History and Mysticism and also Have Sex With Them. Even the bad puns take on a sinister dimension; I always felt like I was tolerating them as a reader, (there goes lovable quirky Tom again!), but now I feel like I’m tolerating them like I do boring/offensive guys in real life–because I’ve been trained by sexism to protect them from my natural and well-placed disdain. The only book I can halfway stand now is “Jitterbug Perfume,” because Kudra is so far ahead of Alobar, she literally leaves him on another plane of existence entirely.

    Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink
  55. Susan wrote:

    Late to this party, but THANK you for this post! The “not trans enough” thing grinds me into powder from time to time, and I’m relieved to find someone out there who is more LIKE ME for crying out loud! I don’t follow the established narrative either, and it’s caused me no end of mental grief.

    Heh, books were one of my big tip-offs. I always identified more strongly with female characters than male ones, and I preferred female authors when I could find them. Robin McKinley, Judy Blume (I, too, was the only boy who read “Are You There, God” over and over in fourth grade), Paula Danziger, Beverly Cleary… and on and on.

    Monday, June 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink
  56. ananimaltoo wrote:

    Like the commenter before me, I’m late here, but HOLY HANNAH, love the shit out of this. Thanks so much! I’m another Atwood nut, though my big Atwood phase began in my last year of high school and has kind of petered out since then. As in, I no longer feel the need to re-read The Blind Assassin every six months, but I have almost every one of her books on my shelf. Faves: TBA, Cat’s Eye, Lady Oracle.

    And, Arundhati Roy HELL YES again. The God of Small Things killed me dead last year.

    I think part of the joy of finding Atwood definitely lay in the fact that this was a respected, ‘literary’ female author. I read a lot of fantasy as a kid, and I was always pretty defensive of my choices in lady authors and their kick-ass lady characters. But in high school, we read East of Eden and many other dudely titles. I loved them, but the women… yeah, not so much. Atwood was basically my feminist awakening and the beginning of my being able to identify as a proud, lit-lovin’ feminist.

    Thanks for this post!

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  57. Pykk wrote:

    @ Samantha B.

    She’s extremely good, and not quite like anything else. Very dense, very rich, and roaring, and beautiful in a rapt, ferocious way. They discussed Man fairly thoroughly at Slate back in 2001: http://www.slate.com/id/2000238/entry/1007210/

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Girly geeky lit | Geek Feminism Blog on Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 5:13 am

    [...] at Tiger Beatdown C.L. Minou talks about her transition in reading (which coincided with her transition in gender presentation), from reading books by and about men [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emma Helen Josephine, D Drapeau. D Drapeau said: Even transsexual cowgirls get the girl-book bashing blues http://bit.ly/cKNw5O Great article, and so many books need reading. [...]

  3. links for 2010-06-03 « Embololalia on Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    [...] Tiger Beatdown › What We Read When We Don’t Read The Internet PRESENTS! Even Transsexual Cowgirl… Because if you want to know how fucked up Patriarchy is and what it can do to you, I can’t think of a better example than this: even someone who grew up wanting to be a girl thought that “girl stuff” was stupid. (tags: gender books trans female.authors) [...]

  4. Stuff I’ve Been Reading: May « praeteritio on Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    [...] book club this month. It’s strange how few female authors I have been assigned in school, and this Tiger Beatdown post by C.L. Minou has some comments on that. As a Lady Writer (though not Author) myself, it worries me how little value is given to works by [...]