Friday, June 23, 2006

Biases in All of Us

New Note - Angelique has read one of the books by Elaine Viets I read and pointed out the women in that one come across very shallow. So Elaine really is an equal opportunity basher, which makes the majority of my rant meaningless. I do still maintain that life isn't fair, however.


I'm going to do something different today. I know I owe an update about my life (short answer is, I'm doing ok and healing), I'm going to talk about a subject hot in the mystery blog world right now. It's just something I have to get off my chest. I bet only one person who reads my blog will find this remotely interesting (Hi, Angelique!), but here goes anyway.

You see, the awards for the first annual International Triller Writers have been announced recently. And all the nominees are men. I was first made aware of this when I headed over to The Lipstick Chronicles and read the this post by Elaine Viets. In it, she rakes the judges over the coals for this outcome. And the comments are interesting, with both sides saying their piece and frankly not listening to each other very much. The one comment I found most interesting was by someone named Donna. She pointed out that this year's nominees for the big Agatha awards were all women. Where was the outcry there?

Reaction to the post has been mostly harsh everywhere but on Lipstick. JA Konrath went a little too far while still offering some good counter arguements. And one of the judges, a female judge, who selected the nominees weighs in here.

It's all interesting and certainly worth thinking about. The awards for the next few years have been tainted by this no matter who wins or is nominated, however.

But I have a comment I simply must get off my chest. Maybe I'm taking the cowards way out by putting it on my own blog and not putting it somewhere where more people will see it. But I don't feel like hijacking anyone else's comments to say it.

When looking at who started this discussion, you must consider the source.

I have read two of Eliane's books. They were ok. One of my problems was a stupid main character. While supposedly humorous, I found them more depressing then funny. But my biggest complain against them was that they were male bashing.

All of the male characters in the second book were scum. Not one of them had any redeeming qualities what-so-ever. Naturally, this helped turn me off to her books and is one of the reasons I don't plan to read any more in the near future.

Now normally, I don't pay attention. I honestly couldn't tell you the ratio of male to female killers in the books I read. But when every single male character is rotten, it tends to stick out.

What does this have to do with the current controversy? Frankly, I find charges of sexism hard to swallow when coming from someone who is obviously anti-man.

Ok, so I'm being very over the top right now. I don't know Elaine, have never met her (and after this probably shouldn't). She has written about a dozen books, and I am basing my comments on two of them, so that is hardly fair to her.

However, that's what she is doing. This is the first year the awards have been given. Yet she is accusing everyone involved with sexism because only men were nominated. Let's wait a couple of years before we even begin to think of that.

I find it hard to believe that if all the nominees were women, we would be having the same discussion. That's what worries me.

And before anyone says anything, yes, women have had to fight back to get the rights they have today. No, things are not equal. But things never will be. See, LIFE ISN'T FAIR! Making sure women are nominated in equal numbers for all awards is a slap in the face to the man who wrote a great book that can't be considered to get a woman's book nominated.

Of course, the reverse is true. Back to the Agatha's for a moment. I wouldn't want to see one of this year's nominees left off the list in favor of a man's book. Frankly, I have a very hard time finding male "cozy" writers. There is one I regularly read, but his work is not award nomation material. I would hate for people to think they had to include him just for equality.

What I want is for everyone who was nominated for an award to be able to feel like it was an accomplishment. I know 15 men who probably wish they hadn't been nominated right now. And next year? When a woman is nominated (and you know at least one will be after this), she will always have the question in the back of her mind if she really deserved it or if it was only an equal opportunity thing.

So there's my two cents on the matter.

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