Posted by: unhcragd | November 12, 2009

Crime Author/Critic Refuses to Review Sexist Crime Novels

Authors must be free to write and publishers to publish. But critics must be free to say they have had enough. So however many more outpourings of sadistic misogyny are crammed on to the bandwagon, no more of them will be reviewed by me.

This stand by British award-winning crime and suspense author/critic Jessica Mann is great example of  the types of empowering action we can take as 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women draws near.

A recent article in the Guardian says Mann’s seen an undeniable  increase in violent graphic depiction of crimes against women in new literature she’s asked to review.

Each psychopath is more sadistic than the last and his victims’ sufferings are described in detail that becomes ever more explicit, as young women are imprisoned, bound, gagged, strung up or tied down, raped, sliced, burned, blinded, beaten, eaten, starved, suffocated, stabbed, boiled or buried alive.

The Guardian relates when Mann realized it had all gone too far.  Mann said that when a female corpse recently appeared on the jacket of a crime-writing colleague’s new book, the author pointed out to her publisher that the victim in the story was actually a man. Mann said the publisher replied:

Never mind that. Dead, brutalised women sell books, dead men don’t. Nor do dead children or geriatrics.

Mann said some of the most disturbing plot lines were by female authors.

They are, one author explained to me, best qualified to do so because girls grow up knowing that being female is ‘synonymous with being prey’.”

As BiblioBitch points out – the New Yorker ‘s picked up the story  – talking about how Mann’s stand infuriated women readers of crime novels.

The Guardian says the British market for crime fiction is worth more than £116m a year, with almost 21 million books sold. Women account for almost 60% of the genre’s market, with females aged over 55 the most avid readers.

Q.  What sort of action does Mann’s gutsy move inspire YOU to take?

(Follow up – I was inspired by Mann to protest Publishers Weekly’s zero inclusion of women in their top ten books for 2009.  Click here and here for my personal blogposts about that action.)


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