Nancy: Female Isn’t a Genre, Except When It Is

Kate Bush captured this photo of an exciting new genre! that is so NOT a genre.

Kate Bush captured this photo of an exciting new genre! that is so NOT a genre.

A few weeks ago, this bit of news hit the twitterverse, in which musician Kate Nash called out a record shop for categorizing widely disparate music by one unifying characteristic: being made by possessors of vaginas. I shouldn’t have been so shocked to learn of a whole store selling vinyl records (those crazy, retro millennials are no doubt driving this trend). I wish I had been more shocked that said store had reduced a collection of such wide and varied artists to the not-a-genre genre of ‘females of all description’.

This incident brought my own thinking back to a subject I’ve been pondering over the past few years: that of Women’s Fiction. As regular 8LW readers might know, one of the writing tribes I proudly claim is that of WF writers. The manuscript I wrote for our Jennifer Crusie-taught McDaniel writing program was a WF story (with an ever-changing title) that has three women friends at its core. I have plans for two more books that I would categorize as WF, and another that might be more mainstream/general than women’s fiction, because it includes male POV characters, but that I still might consider WF because one of the female POV characters is really at the heart of the story. I belong to WFWA, have pitched my manuscript as WF, and plan to continue doing so.

But should I? Should I be so quick to align to a ‘catch-all’ genre about the female experience, with books written primarily by women? While I have sought out the camaraderie and intelligence of these fellow writers and have enjoyed being in a creative space that embraces the feminine and celebrates a female view of the world, have I been too quick to overlook the built-in bias that attaches to my work by being dropped into what, on its surface, appears to be a default category? Am I, despite my own yearning for gender parity and inclusiveness, hanging a ‘no boys allowed’ sign on my books? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Uh oh, My Stereotype is Showing

women-openA few weeks ago I blogged about warming up the romance in my story here. One of the things that came out of that discussion, besides some great suggestions for enhancing the chemistry between my characters, was the realisation that I had fallen into some stereotypically thinking.

I had been envisioning Abigail as the typical gently bred young lady of the Regency who knew little if anything about men or sex before she married, especially since she had no mother around to advise her. On the flip side, I saw Michael as the traditional experienced Regency gentleman who had sown more than a few wild oats during his transition to adulthood (while hopefully remaining disease-free). Continue reading