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Book reviewer quits over 'increasing sexist violence'

edited October 2009 in - Reading


  • Natasha Cooper, former chair of the Crime Writer' Association, agrees with Ms Mann. She says women do this so they are taken seriously as authors.

    Has it not crossed their minds that perhaps there are women out there who enjoy writing this stuff as much as men?
    Just because Natasha Cooper and Ms Mann, dont like it, doesn't mean every woman feels the same way.
  • Well, it isn't something I've noticed as a crime reader. When I write I try to be realistic - however my main character is a man so that probably doesn't count.

    Can't remember a time when I read about a woman being eaten though. Although I think she has a point if she means Val McDermid [she killed one woman - a prostitute - with a dildo that had razor inserted]

    Cue every woman crossing her legs! That was when I stopped reading her books. There is a line when violence become gratituous and we start revelling in it.
  • This is interesting, as my main character resorts to violence (against men, I might add) in order to reach her ultimate goal, although there is only one scene where the violence is against the woman. As for how explicit the violence is...I think it's down to personal choice. Realism is important, but overkill cancorrupt the whol story.

    Some people like it, some people don't, so you choose to either read them or not.

    As for resigning over it...I'm not sure what that will accomplish.
  • [quote=dora]Has it not crossed their minds that perhaps there are women out there who enjoy writing this stuff as much as men?[/quote]
    While I agree with that Dora, I do still wonder if many women writing in the genre, do think that they need to include the gruesome to be able to compete with their successful contemporaries.

    I do sympathise with the reviewer too. As a reader you choose which authors you read and you gauge the level of gore you are willing to read with the choice of authors you choose.
    The reviewer doesn't have that choice in the job, so if all the writers whose books you have to review are full of the same types of stuff, then you might start to feel that way too if you don't get any variation...
  • My rule of thumb is to only write violence if it furthers the story. I've never given a thought to what others are writing.

    Now, when I first started writing I did resort to excessive violence - but that was down to flaws in the story and trying to plaster it over with gore. The marks of a very bad writer!
  • Almost everything violent that happens in my books happens "off-stage" as it were- e.g. my main character is attacked in book #1, but after the first blow, the scene cuts out, and then when it cuts back in, you see her injuries.

    **** Joseph slowly turned back to me; his eyes were narrow blue chips of ice in the half-light. He crossed the room and hit me hard across the face with the back of his hand, grunting with the effort of the strike. The smack left a painful and bruising impression on my cheek, and I blinked rapidly as tears sparkled in my eyes. There was a high-pitched ringing in my ear.
    “My orders were to draw no blood,” he hissed, rubbing his knuckles. “But I think that allows for a whole lot of hurt, don’t you?”

    I didn’t recognise the girl in the mirror. That girl was in pretty bad shape, with shiny red welts raised and oozing across her neck and chest, and purple bruises blooming on every visible inch of her pale skin. One of her eyes was swollen shut, the other blackened, and she was cradling an arm bent at an unnatural angle beneath her restraints. ****

    It felt unnecessary to show a long, brutal attack scene (I can see it in my head, and 15-year-old girls don't need to see that).

    I've done the gore-fest when I was in uni, but one of the most violent things I wrote then, I can't even read now. It's that gruesome, and I can see now why my tutor didn't like it.

  • I went for full on torture. Must be a 18-20 year old thing!
  • [quote=Stirling]I went for full on torture. Must be a 18-20 year old thing![/quote]

    Yeah, that's what my most violent thing was. A very pretty girl, who's a bit promiscuous, is picked up in a bar and goes home with the man, who ties her to the bed as though they're going to have a good old session. Turns out he's a masochistic serial killer, and he spends the rest of the night torturing her to oblivion before hacking her up and dumping the pieces all over the place. Personally, the part I was most disturbed by at the time was when he chops off her hair (I've had nightmares about that sort of thing, like that girl who was on holiday, and a couple of lads climbed in her balcony while she was drunk asleep and chopped half of her hair off. *shudder*), but now it's all of the other stuff. It was like "Saw", just graphic ultra-violence. The writing was okay, just the plot was poo, and I made up for it with blood by the bucketload. ;)

  • Violence, murder and mayhem, have a place when used in the right context. Anyone that says that overly explicit violence or murder isn't realistic needs to tell that to the copper that opened the fridge and came face to face with a severed head whilst arresting Jeffrey Dahmer. Sick things happen. Writer's shouldn't get berated for mirroring the gore of real life.
  • When I read a murder mystery, I've found it's creepier if a bit of violence is shown, but not all of it is there. Then your imagination takes over.
  • Dora, I agree with everything you said! And I'm sure that most writers will be happy not to have their books reviewed by a prissy censorious reviewer.
  • Violence and mayhem is a part of life unfortunately, and I do read a gamut of different stories, some violently explicit and others not so, however the most effective ones have been those the suggest the violence, and that's what makes an effective phycological crime/thriller for me.
  • I agree with you to some extent, Red. But I still think that if an author - male or female - wants to make their violence very explicit, they should have the right to do so. I don't see why a stupid reviewer should be voicing their opinion. If they don't like that kind of stuff they should change job.
  • Presumably she has done so.
  • Good! :-)
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