Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Revenge of the Bloodthirsty Lesbians"

I'm sort of impressed with the way that current authors have reached the level of celebrity that gets them mentioned in the "entertainment" sections of newspapers these days. I say "sort of" because I'm not real sure that I want to read about my favorite writers while having to dodge the latest tripe on Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

But from the Times of London comes word of a feud between two of the best crime fiction writers in the business today, one of them a personal favorite of mine, Ian Rankin.
There is no mystery to solve: Ian Rankin did it, in an interview, with the word “lesbian”.

Britain’s bestselling crime writer found himself condemned as “offensive” by a leading female rival yesterday after suggesting that women authors, and gay ones in particular, are more bloodthirsty than men. The acclaimed writer of the Inspector Rebus novels said in an interview last year: “The people writing the most graphic novels today are women. They are mostly lesbians as well, which I find interesting.”

Speaking to an audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Val McDermid quoted the remark almost word for word, attributing it to “a very prominent Scottish male writer”. She then dismissed it as “arrant rubbish”.
“I’ll tell you what pisses me off more than almost anything: when people say, ‘As a woman, how do you feel about writing on violence?’ Have you ever heard a male crime writer being asked, ‘As a man, how do you feel about writing about violence?’

“There’s a profound disassociation, it seems to me; as if somehow it’s wrong for us to be writing about violence against women, as though somehow we need permission to write about violence against women.”
Rankin defended himself at the festival yesterday, saying that his original comments had been intended as part of a broader discussion about the younger generation of crime fiction writers. “It’s not just about lesbians. It seems to me that to get into the Top Ten it helps, if you are a woman, if you write quite violent books. It helps if you are a man if you don’t.”
Some women crime writers have argued that what they produce is less gratuitous than the violence in books by men because it tends to emphasise the consequences of abuse and killing. Others suggest that the visceral style of so many female crime writers stems from their greater awareness of the threat of sexual violence.
The article contains some graphic descriptions of recent novels written by women crime writers. In fact, they are so graphic that I avoided quoting the descriptions, so see the article to judge for yourself the kind of thing that Rankin was describing.

There have been some great literary feuds in the last few decades, of course, and they are always interesting to follow because of the way that they expose the minds of those involved. This particular feud appears to be far from over although Rankin doesn't really seem to be all that interested in it.


  1. He may not be that far off the mark... ;)

  2. Honestly. People get their knickers in a twist over the most ridiculous things.

    "I’ll tell you what pisses me off more than almost anything: when people say, ‘As a woman, how do you feel about writing on violence?’"

    Pretty nice life if that's her biggest concern.

  3. I see where she is trying to cool things down now because she and Rankin have supposedly swapped emails and are friendly again. She's crawfishing on the whole thing...not entirely gracefully.

  4. Yeah, sure blame the WOMAN for her remarks.

    What the hell does Rankin think sexuality has to do with it anyway, and why raise it so grstuitously.

    I'm with Mcdermnid - and the most annoying thing is it is all reported as if it's her that's caused the problem by having the hide to chip him about it, taher than him raising it in the first place.

    Plus ca change....

  5. I hear you, Sally. Rankin didn't exactly cover himself in glory with his remarks.

    I find these author "feuds" to be kind of fun to watch. :-)