You cannot tell a person's gender from the way they write. In other words, the idea that writing style is gendered is utter horse shit, and should be treated as such. Gender does not determine quality, quantity or genre in any way, shape, or form. So stop it with the gendered bullshit, already.
But Sonia, I hear (some) people cry, I bet the female writers deliberately wrote like men in order to confuse the voters! It was a deliberate misdirection for the sake of the feminist agenda!
Don't laugh. People make these idiotic arguments all the time.
I cannot speak to what the other female writers did. I can only speak to what I did. And what I did was write the first thing that popped into my head when Renee wrote the submission guidelines for her very unscientific experiment. Those guidelines were:
Write a scene between two people involving an inanimate object no bigger than your computer screen. Must be in first person.
The Nature of Pride
“Oh come on!” I say, pointing emphatically at the thing on the pedestal with both hands. “That is not art!”
“Of course it is!” Lindie replies, rolling her eyes at me.
My jaw drops as I stare at her. Perhaps the art museum was not the best choice for our fourth date. I mean, I really like this girl, what with her nerdy, slightly androgynous aesthetic common to all art history students, and her bright, brainy conversation. I was hoping that if I impressed her enough with my highly cultural choice of date location, I might finally get her back to my place for some… you know…
“Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power,” she continues. “This is clearly doing that. So it’s art.”
“It’s a computer screen with some paint splattered on it. It’s an accident, is what this is.”
“Did you even read the card? The artist wanted to convey the threat of modern technology, how it’s nothing more than the murder of the human spirit.”
I shake my head. “Bullshit,” I say. “That’s just the B.S. esoteric explanation the artist pulled from his ass in order to sell this piece of crap. How much did it cost, anyway?”
Lindie checks her pamphlet. “Twenty-five million,” she informs me.
“Twenty-five million?! Holy shit! This is the best fucking scam ever! I’m going to go home, pour some coloured goop onto my iPad, claim I’m ‘making a statement’” – I use the international symbol for quotation marks with both hands to provide a visual cue in case my obvious sarcasm wasn’t enough – “and sell it for thirty million. Jesus! The art world is populated by absolute suckers!”
I should realise in this moment from Lindie’s glare that I’m running my mouth, and it isn’t appreciated, but I just can’t let this thing lie. I mean, be real. Twenty-five million? For a computer screen someone accidentally spilled paint on?
“It’s like the story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ This museum got swindled, and everyone has their heads too far up their asses, trying to appear all cultural and learned, to admit it!”
“Oh my god,” Lindie says. “You are such an idiot.” She turns and starts to walk away.
Damn. I’ve blown the date. I reach out and grab her arm. “I’m sorry,” I say, pulling her into a hug. “I’m sorry. How about we just go back to my place. I’ll put on some music, open some wine, and we can talk about other things.”
I smile when I feel Lindie’s arms snake around my ribs. “That sounds nice,” she says. “Just one thing.”
“Admit that the computer screen is art.”
My shoulders lock, my arms now stuck around her, as my back stiffens.
I’m not getting laid tonight.
Votes female: 3
Votes male: 4
Actual gender: Woman.
Biological sex: Female.
I know, I know, how cis-normative of me.
Granted, first person is not a style I typically write in (I have two books out of thirteen or so that are written in first person perspective), and first person, present tense is something I never write in at all, so my piece would likely have thrown off even the most avid reader of mine. Hell, I fooled a Beta Reader!
That, however, is not a deliberate misdirection. That scene was the first thing that popped into my head when reading Renee's prompt, so that's the scene I wrote. I did not consciously alter my writing to appear more masculine because I had a point to prove. I trusted enough in the fact that the idea of gendered writing was utter rot that I did not feel the need to perform a magic trick with words.
I appreciate anyone who had that thought though. It makes me look like far better an writer than I am.
Which brings me to another matter. If I did perform a deliberate misdirection as to the gender of the author with my words, good. That means I'm a good writer. It means that I can successfully inhabit the mind of a character that is not my own gender. Any female writer who may have performed a deliberate misdirection in the experiment can pat themselves on the back. They successfully portrayed something that was outside of their actual experience.
It's a brilliant writer who can do that.
So for those espousing the superiority of writers of the masculine gender (and there are a lot of such people), you can knock it off now.
Now, off you all go and buy some great books by fabulous female writers. Here are a couple I've enjoyed: