This topic has been on my mind for some time now. Initially, I thought it would not appeal to people, but then I do not write to agree with people. I speak of things I have seen; of things I think of; of things that would generate arguments or agreements and from which I would come out more knowledgeable than before. Whatever it is we need to talk, discuss, argue, agree, and agree to disagree.
Has anyone observed the path some authors have taken to popularise their novels? Or perhaps it emanates only from my masochist macho mind? Or perhaps I am framing the whole thing up and presuming it is pervasive: not everybody does it but most do? Whatever the case may, as in many other professions, people always discover shortcuts to stardom. After all, once the archetype is prepared and accepted one can always build on it.
Some writers, and if I can call myself one then I also stand accused, have capitalised on the fact that women form a larger percentage of the reading and/or book-buying market, at least according to VIDA, to lead them into stardom. To have their novels appeal to the larger populace, jump onto the Number One Bestseller List overnight, or cause Oprah to cry and declare their books an Oprah Book Selection and be embossed with the fastest selling name-endorsement, or have a corner representation in the New Yorker, the Guardian, these authors have resorted to stereotyping. And it is simple: make women sensible, sympathetic and emotional. The men? Make them drunkards, womanizers, adulterers, fornicators, murderers, hardened criminals moving in and out of prisons, or rapists. The more morbid the male characters the better. After this, all that are required are the settings and a plot to link these characters.
Why am I being this cynical? I wonder when the diametrical changes that have engulfed our society would be represented or why have they been misrepresented? We still have, in books published less than five years ago and set in such time period, men depicted as if they still live in caves: men whose presence in the family demands all to be quiet; men who boom rather than speak; men who think not of their work but sex. And whenever there is a divorce and the story is authored by a woman, it would be the man's fault because he either cheated on the woman or did not understand her. The men always overshadow their women and never help them in anything they (the women) do. They are one-dimensional and think not of the children. In fact they hardly know their children's name. They practice polygamy, even when they did not force the women to join their army of wives.
To liberate their 'oppressed' women, they introduce divorce and/or death of the man. Deterioration and ruination, their ultimate weapons. Sometimes they present total haughtiness, disrespect and juvenile delinquency as physical manifestation of freedom and rebellion against these antiquated men. I once read a book where all the men were backward and conservatives and all the women were progressives and enlightened.
Is this all that men could be in novels? Or are these done because they sell the most? Haven't we had enough? Can't we create something different from these? These have become the representation, or misrepresentation, of men in novels. The lower the author can go, the stronger and more appealing the story would become. We shall continue to read more novels in this vein, until such a time when we would vote adversely with our money for the tides to change. Until then, my fellow writers the race to deprave is on.