1. Tales of Anima
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    Tales of Anima Member

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    Masculine prose vs. Feminine prose

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tales of Anima, Jan 29, 2013.

    This is a question I got to wondering about recently; how would you classify prose in terms of gender?

    Not in the sense of prose from the perspective of a man or a woman, but the actual flow of the grammatical structure. Can the prose have a masculine/feminine character, and how would it would look to a reader?

    Discuss.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know whether gender would show in grammatical structure, but it might show in choice of imagery. Stereotypically, little boys play with toy trucks and little girls play with dolls, and that kind of thing might imprint a writer's subconscious enough to affect the imagery, the metaphors, he or she uses.
     
  3. cswillson
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    cswillson Member

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    Yes. Prose can have a M/F character. I'm Beta reading a Fantasy now and the first comment I made to the writer was, "You write like a man."

    Big difference. Maybe not grammatical, but definitely perspective, POV, attitude.

    Women are not just a different sex. They are a different species. After forty or fifty years with them you can see the difference. Women adjust to the difference. Young guys only see them as, well, usable. Old guys, like me, respect and revere (and when possible, use) them.

    Probably starting a flame. Don't mean to, but I've been attracted and attached to women (beautiful and dynamic women -- grandmothers, sisters, lovers, wives, women who you would say I'm lying about) and have found they are different than men -- different from me -- but regardless of age or attractiveness, they are absolutely fascinating.

    I've never met one I didn't love, never left one who won't give me a kiss and a hug when we meet.

    Got to stay on their good side if you want to understand them, otherwise they will hand you your lunch and you won't know what happened to you.

    They are different than guys -- big time different.

    Prose is classified in terms of objectivity, truth, reality.

    Write what you know. Doesn't matter what the gender is.

    The reader knows before the end of the first paragraph whether they want to continue. Women buy the majority of books, so make it real. They'll buy it for their lover if they think he needs, or would want, to read it.

    One paragraph. That's all you have. Make it work.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Pfft. I don't even believe in masculine/feminine dialogue. The difference between among individuals is much greater than the differences in thought and speech between genders.
     
  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Take n critically acclaimed novels written by male authors, and n critically claimed novels written by female authors (the bigger the sample size the better). Make sure to sample from each genre equally.

    Take x pages from the beginning, x pages from the middle, and x pages from the end of each novel (again, the bigger the sample size the better.)

    Measure verb count, noun count, adverb count, past perfect count, etc, per page. Measure number of descriptions per page. Measure ratio of action to information, per page.
    Measure sentence length and sentence length variety, per page. Measure repitition. Measure number of different vocabulary. Measure number of vague (eg. hot) terms and descriptions vrs number of explicit (eg. 100 degrees F). Measure number of physical nouns (eg. brick) vs number of abstract terms (eg. love). Count metaphors, similes, and allegories. Count numbert of descriptions that focus on protagonist vs number of descriptions that focus on things outside of protagonist. Count number of references, such as technical and historical.

    Then, average these numbers per book, and finally per gender group. Please post them when finished.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't forget to do a chi-squared analysis based on the sampling size. ;)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    then do same for gay vs straight prose and catholic vs jewish and thin vs fat, blonde vs brunette and so on... you get my drift..............
     
  8. Arthur Wagner
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    Arthur Wagner New Member

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    I've read many and more books (mostly in German though). For some reason, there are very few books written by female authors that I really like. I can't explain what it is, but women seem to have a slightly different approach to writing which does not fit my personal taste somehow. Why?
     
  9. cswillson
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    cswillson Member

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    I thought it was a yes/no question.
     
  10. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Sometimes when I read posts/excerpts on this forum I try to work out whether the poster is male or female, then I go to their profile page to find out. Usually I am 90% wrong. If there is a difference it might only be in the subject matter, but there again. Male writers fool female readers all the time by writing romances and female writers write crime or action stories. If there's a difference its a hard one to recognise.
     
  11. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    This, exactly. Also, structure etc is most likely influenced by what you read, so for almost everyone it's all going to be mixed up anyway.
     
  12. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's true, but in a world where different genders have different experiences growing up, I'd still expect there to be more similarity of thought in a large group of women or large group of men than a group of mixed gender, so that doesn't mean it's impossible for writing to have a gendered character. I've definitely read stories that feel like they were written by one gender or the other - whether or not they actually were is irrelevant; the prose still had that character.
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is true, and for writers it's probably the only relevant consideration. I thought, though, that the OP was asking whether or not gender is irretrievably buried in the noise floor, and it's possible that it isn't. It would take a lot of analysis to tease it out, though, and there's no reason for general readers to do that.
     
  14. Arthur Wagner
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    Arthur Wagner New Member

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    To my mind, being an individual and sharing characteristics with large groups of people is no contradiction ...
     
  15. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is something called "gender studies"... Supposedly, you can ask questions about elements of text that are perceived as feminine / masculine, and it has something to do with specific cultural perception of genders, gender roles and gender attributes... Supposedly, you can have a PhD in Gender studies, too!

    So, no "Pfft"s, it's a legitimate question! :D

    ...now seriously, you could say that certain elements in textual composition could be perceived as being more feminine or masculine, depending on where you start with gender perception. Say that you use term "feminine" for passive, marginalized, expressive or "flowery" in a text, and "masculine" for active, aggressive, effectual or precise. It has nothing to do with actual gender of the writer of course, but is solely an attribute defined by the reader.

    But frankly, it just makes all the literature easily generalized as "queer"...
     
  16. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I believe that if you read enough of a writer's work his personality bleeds through his prose. For example, I have stated that I put down the book "Angelology" because I cannot get past the clear-cut concept that a woman is writing for some of the male characters.

    In kind, I cannot write women's dialog. In my book, I do have a mouthy female gunship waist-gunner, and I can write fine for her. I was surrounded by bike chicks for decades, and our diction is pretty close to identical.

    How this relates to the OP's premise is an extension of the idea. The woman who is helping me with my dialog scenes specializes in YA with female characters. Despite the fact they fight, and one jumped off a balcony from a height that would baffle a Jedi, she also included lots of info on hair, make-up and clothing.

    When I mentioned that to her, she told me that younger girls like that stuff. And she was right.

    My wife and I use the term "feminine cinema" when choosing movies on TV. I think the offshoot of this thread touches numerous aspects of picking a target audience.
     

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