I always remember a History class I had at school because the teacher's response to my comment was so shocking, it rooted itself in my memory forevermore. We had been discussing Queen Elizabeth I and why it was so difficult for her to get any laws passed. I suggested it was because she was a woman and therefore nobody paid her any attention – which, given the era we were discussing, seemed a valid answer. The response? ‘Quite the little feminist aren’t you?’ From a female teacher no less.
Then recently, I wrote an article about whether or not the new Doctor on Doctor Who should be portrayed by a woman, positing that women’s roles in society have changed so dramatically in the last fifty years that perhaps the show ought to reflect that. Having loved Alex Kingston's portrayal of Dr River Song, I believe that she may have paved the way for a female to take on the role after Matt Smith's departure. The outcry to the article was so horrendous it was positively comical. Many seemed to believe that my suggestion was simply because I was a woman and therefore shoving my 'feminist agenda' down their throats, completely ignoring my point that perhaps it was time to regenerate the Doctor into the 21st century – just to see what happened.
Why does my opinion seem to be worth so much less than a man's, simply because I have breasts? If a man had written the exact same article, nobody would have accused him of shoving his feminist agenda down their throats; they simply would have read the article for what it was – a suggestion based on the show’s track record and the recent series.
The same, of course, can be said for fiction. If a man writes a book about romance, that book often wins prestigious awards, gets widespread review coverage and critical acclaim. Both men and women read it and discuss it. If a woman does the same, men seem to run for the hills.
So why is it that women openly read books written by men but men need to hide any desire they have to read a book written by a woman?
Do you know of any men who would happily read a love story written by a woman? Or do they make sure to keep a safe distance away from the book at all times? Are you a man too afraid to read a book written by a woman in public for fear of ridicule? Let us know…