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Women have always been better writers They're taking over male spaces without sacrificing their femininity

This writing is an incursion into masculine places. Credit: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty

This writing is an incursion into masculine places. Credit: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty


March 22, 2021   4 mins

Twenty years ago, I covered a Ukip conference for a progressive newspaper. There I met an extraordinary man: a posh, faintly repellent, 50-year-old pulp novelist who dressed like Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes. He was moonlighting as a press officer for Ukip, which meant he spent a lot of time on the telephone soothing the leader “Roger”.

We spent the night together in my hotel room; the day after we held hands in the gallery. He was raging and touching, and I lived with him for an autumn in Totnes. I left him on Boxing Day when his requests that I attend an orgy with him became too insistent and I found photographs of an almost nude woman on bedding I had bought for him on the dressing table. My friend named him Count Fuckula, and that was that.

None of this made it into the Ukip piece, but I am not Tabitha Lasley, the author of Sea State, an investigation into the oil industry which segues into an unhappy love affair. I am none of the brilliant women who would once have been novelists — fiction protects men from women, and women from themselves — but who are today writing subjective non-fiction. Lamorna Ash’s Deep, Salt, Clear, a story of working with Newlyn fishermen; Tamsin Calidas’s I am an Island, a story of living as a crofter in the Hebrides; Catrina Davies’s Homesick, a story of living in a shed near Lands’ End which is also a cold indictment, quite literally, of the housing crisis.

If I were, I might have written a piece in which I compared my discovery of Count Fuckula’s body to my discovery of Ukip; I might have compared his personal alienation — he was an alcoholic — to his quest for personal sovereignty. No, it would have been a book about an Electra complex — Electra in Ukip — but I was not skilled enough to write it and I didn’t want to know why I loved him. I might have written a self-hating piece on the love affair for a newspaper. They will take this sort of material from female journalists — and only from female journalists. It’s easy to sell your one note trauma. But these new books are not at all self-hating. There is too much voice in them.

Sea State is not a book about the men on the oil rigs, just as Deep, Salt, Clear is not really about fishermen, and Homesick is only superficially about a home. They are books about seeking. Sea State is Lasley’s state, and she succeeds: the story is hers, not theirs. It is theft really, audacious theft, the taking of men’s spaces as they have always taken ours. Lasley takes their bodies too. She leaves London her worthless lover (the first of two we meet) for Aberdeen “a Gulf state, a desert caliphate”.

She seeks working-class men with two lives: onshore and off. (Ash has a similar curiosity for men “always on the verge of falling”.) That is what obsesses Lasley because that is what she has. Towards the end of the book, she says that she is emotionally dependent on cocaine: “My mordant companion these twenty years.”

Her journalistic practices are dishonest and effective. She accosts workers in bars and clubs; she gives false names and false back stories; she is called a whore, repeatedly, about which she is sanguine and aggressive both; she walks with a man who says he is a murderer and offers to kill her lover for her. There is no need: she will do it, and with ink.

She sleeps with her first interviewee, a man of extraordinary emptiness called Caden, and they create a fantasy life as she researches his nothingness, intruded on by his furious wife and his furious emptiness. She describes her breast selfies, and her orgasms, but, in the end, it is all thwarted by Caden’s greed. He will keep a wife he doesn’t love rather than pay her alimony, and this is just one of Lasley’s superb and possibly unconscious metaphors: the oil industry is about greed and that is perfectly expressed by her description of Caden furiously ironing his expensive clothes, which, a wrecked family and an appearance in his lover’s memoir aside, is the only visible product of his double life.

When I read Sea State, I was disturbed by it, enough to ask myself why. Why was I obsessing about Lasley’s real book about the oil industry, the one without her in it? The one she would have written in the 1990s, when I became a journalist, if she had been sanctioned to do so? The one a man might write, with less observation — he would not have seen Caden ironing — but with more detail on the oil industry? (When writing about working class men, middle-class men often sound as if they are meeting another species. They sound stunned.)

Why was I angered by her strange combination of vulnerability and toughness? I suspect it was recognition — we have all been pleasing for access, and nude is pleasing — though she went further than I ever did, in print at least. Sea State is an honest account of how she got her story, when the fashion is to reach for a synthetic poise that is wholly invented. Few writers will say, as Lasley does: “I’d taken him for an adult because he made a lot of money, but he was like me.”

This genre is disturbing because of its newness, its tidal masochism and sometimes its cruelty — when a female writer has a voice, it can say anything. It is an incursion into masculine places by women who lose no femininity to get there. Their vulnerability — their smallness — is explicit, yet they are bold and they are not ashamed. It is all dangerous work. The BrontĂ«s published pseudonymously for a reason. Jane Eyre is barely fiction, and nowadays it wouldn’t be. It would be a book about the working conditions of governesses with discursions on tuberculosis, masturbation and psychosis.

Only Lasley writes her explicit sexual passions — Ash likes words, Calidas sheep, and Davies the sea — but the female voice is everywhere: women take space and form in the world. Ash gilds fish with poetry in an almost religious experience learning, “I will have to acknowledge that not only am I not a woman of the sea, but that I am not a woman of Cornwall either.” Davies makes herself a home on the edge of England, and she manages to keep it. Calidas, though she is intimidated by local men who abuse her, will not leave the Hebrides. Some wish she would. She was accused of colonialism, which I am pleased to call hysterical: she bought a small farm.

This is a hail of female voices who know they can write anything. When I began to write, you could not be yourself, unless men first sanctioned it. I was full of smiles. I like to think that Lasley does not smile at the men in Aberdeen. I like to think she does not have to.


Tanya Gold is a freelance journalist.

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Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago

There is no area in which men are not inferior. Understood.
In the last 30 years, all I have read in the UK is that men (white of course) oppress, abuse, rape and kill. Not once have I read anyone portraying what men are really like- loving, caring, and willing to do anything, including give up their lives, for the safety and wellbeing of those they love. We would not have survived as a species if men were not hard wired to protect their families and provide for them.
And then I see these women, the Guardian types, who know men only as forces of darkness. And I wonder. Did you never have a grandfather who doted over you? A father who read you bed time stories? A lover or husband who cherished you? A son who loved you and filled you with pride? Have you never experienced love, kindness, comfort and security from a male figure? How tragic and hollow your life must be? Please don’t think you represent female experience. Most women love and are loved by men in their lives.
As to the silly premise of this article, of course there are good women writers, as are men. The writer’s limited and narrow range of reading tells no one anything about good or bad literature. Why does UNHERD feel the need to inflict this kind of shallow and vacuous writing on its readers?
This is for the Guardian. Not here please.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

There is no area in which men are not inferior. 
Except, apparently, the area in which men become women. The “hear me roar” crowd of the 60s and 70s is suddenly mute when one man after another declares himself female, when banalities like “only women menstruate” are treated as heresy, and when gay men are attacked for not wanting to date biological women.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

These days it’s more “I am woman, hear me whine”.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

For my sins, I’ve read a great deal of her writing, and whatever the ostensible topic of the article, Tanya Gold is invariably shallow, overwrought and egotistic. It’s interesting* to count up the total occcurrences of the first-person pronoun in her pieces: in the end, everything is about her.
*A form of words. Nothing about her writing is interesting.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
3 years ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Very nicely put.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

:

Last edited 3 years ago by CYRIL NAMMOCK
Robbie PPC
Robbie PPC
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

You can read Tanya Gold’s autobiographical writings on the web and elsewhere. Dysfunction marinated in privilege.

Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Quite so. When will it become apparent that men and women are not enemies. Men and women are different – fact. But when put together they complement each other, they can work together to achieve great things; they just need to stop competing with each other and pull in the same direction.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

Tanya, sadly, your opinion of Jane Eyre shows how completely brainwashed you have been by post-modernism. It is tragic for no one but yourself, you have a talent for writing but you are mired in nihilism and bitter feminist ideology. For heavens sake find a way to drag yourself out of it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Claire, many thanks. For a moment after encountering this article, or at least the headline, I thought I might be becoming misogynist 🙂

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

She enjoys it too much to kick the habit.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

All men are scum
All women are exotic, beautiful beings, who should be worshipped and every thing given over to.
Narcissist, overblown claptrap.
You ain’t that interesting

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Sadly there is currently a wider window of opportunity than usual for posters to get gender-based nonsense published.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Kate H. Armstrong
Kate H. Armstrong
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

You are too kind! “Not at all interesting”, is a more accurate description. Indeed, essentially an obsessive bore.

Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones
3 years ago

Whut?
Honestly, Unherd, you are (or should be) better than trolling for rageclicks with barely comprehensible quasi-surreal weirdness like this and it should be clear by now that nobody likes Tanya Gold. Including, apparently, Tanya Gold. Please banish her back to the fetid depths of The Guardian from whence she came, that she may once more find comfort in her true home.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jonathan Jones
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Neither of the headlines they have deployed for this article – and it’s still only 8am – really reflect the article itself. That said, I don’t suppose there is a person alive who could find an appropriate headline for this particular article.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fraser Bailey
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I found one. One word, four letters. Anagram of parc

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Anagrams; yes- the article certainly “hits” the mark.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Thank you, Fraser! I was struggling to put together some kind of coherent reply to this article. Then I read your comment, which says it all really — though I think Claire D’s comment above is complementary.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Sadly there are a number of writers who headline their articles with “clickbait wording” that is rarely addressed – and virtually never justified – in the subsequent paragraphs.
These characteristics are often visible when an “identity group” mouthpiece wishes to claim something that has no evidence to support it.
This is a great example of one of those pieces.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

To be fair, the writers themselves almost never write the headlines, although I don’t know who does now that, apparently, there are no sub-editors. And, these days, different headlines are tried in order to try and attract more clicks. In that respect, the current headline is probably a success.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

True that. The first headline was no worse or better than the article itself, so they sort of deserved each other. The second had me so incensed I was about to react. Thankfully everyone else already has.

s williams
s williams
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The headline sucked me in. I thought Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, or Willa Cather would be the topic. In stead, she was writing about herself

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  s williams

Women like Tanya seem to find themselves endlessly interesting.

Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think the most appropriate title would be something like “Why Tanya Gold Will Die Alone & Unloved, With Many Cats”

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

Not sure what point this article is trying to make or how it relates to the title.. Women good, men bad? Demonstrated by several stories in which men and women behave equally badly, but somehow the men are judged by Tanya to be worse.

Mark Rothermel
Mark Rothermel
3 years ago

Always entertains me when the commentariat is far superior to the actual article.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

The writers named above all sound like more prolix versions of Bryony Gordon, Hannah Betts, and those other fundamentally airheaded female scribblers who write entirely and with abject banality about themselves. The only novel – not interesting, just novel – thing about them is that as described here, they are emotional incompetents who excuse and define themselves by their hostility to men, and seek and earn the applause of other women for doing so.
I don’t understand why the reviewer doesn’t simply sneer at them, as she certainly would if these writers were male.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jon Redman
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yes, it was the ongoing presence of those you mention that did a great deal to drive me away from the MSM.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago

If women have always been better writers why is this article such rubbish?

Last edited 3 years ago by Mark Preston
C Spencer
C Spencer
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

The best reply yet.

Last edited 3 years ago by C Spencer
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Sounds like 60s-70s feminism writing, Friedman, Jong, Didon, Steinem, but without the point or skill. More tawdry than erotic. I have dropped out and run off a number of times, and one does meet interesting people out there living fringe – outlandish, or weird, or scary, or more often, sad, lives that leave you with a mood or feel of some thinking outside of your own way, some reality different from yours you get insight by looking into.

Most of my life I spent a great deal of time wondering – what is it all about, mortality, the span of free will between birth and death, and what would make the most sense in how one behaved to be the best, and to gain the most aesthetic. That is where this sort of squalid story can be worth the reading, where it uses an extraordinary way of life to ponder on ultimate meaning. Just narrating a weird way of living, a life unreflected, very few lives have been exciting enough to make a story like that. I guess I wonder what one would learn by reading those above as they did not seem to strike a message.

Simone Beaviour, Simone Weil, Gertrude Bell, George Elliott, We got something, some truth, by reading their writing, what do the above writers have to say?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Turn your telescope onto the Eagle Nebula, its only about 5,700 light-years away.
That should tell you “what is it all about”: Nihil-Nothing.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

That’s what it’s (probably) about from a cosmic perspective. We read George Eliot (whom Mr Artzen refers to, and who, in her mature years, rejected belief in God), along with other great writers, male and female, in order better to learn what it’s about from a human perspective.

Last edited 3 years ago by Basil Chamberlain
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

We could veer ‘off piste’ here, and ‘disappear’ into Middlemarch, but under the present system that is somewhat awkward.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Nothing is awkward under the present system if you just cast it correctly, and change the dialogue as needed.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

Of course, Dorothea Brooke was not as impressed by Rome as you and I seem to be!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

No indeed, but frankly 19th century Rome was not a healthy or attractive place.
The ‘Church’ presence was also suffocating.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

And Simone Weil was all about god till her end. “Every time that I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I commit the sin of envy.”, a bit of a whack Christain, but so much she wished for nothing but to suffer so others might not.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

Incidentally, I wonder if you’ve come across this quotation from Flaubert; I suspect it would appeal to your mood of classical stoicism in the face of that nothingness:
“The melancholy of the antique world seems to me more profound than that of the moderns, all of whom more or less imply that beyond the dark void lies immortality. But for the ancients that ‘black hole’ is infinity itself; their dreams loom and vanish against a background of immutable ebony. No crying out, no convulsions—nothing but the fixity of the pensive gaze.
With the gods gone, and Christ not yet come, there was a unique moment, from Cicero to Marcus Aurelius, when man stood alone. Nowhere else do I find that particular grandeur.”

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

No I had not come across that gem from Flaubert. The last paragraph in particular is splendid. Many thanks.

Off course that period between. Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, the fall of the Republic to the High Empire is very close to the period that enthralled Gibbon and others.

I believe on entering Rome for the first time Goethe said “only now do I begin to live!”, and on first seeing the Pont du Gard Rousseau is said to have exclaimed “why was I not born a Roman?”

You missed a brief discussion last week on Larkin and melancholia but under the ‘new’ system it will be beyond the Eagle Nebula by now!
,

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

Quoted by Paul Bailey in the introduction to the current Penguin edition of Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian. I am about to try to read it in the original, but find it useful to have a translation beside me lest my schoolboy French fail me!
My favourite sight in Rome is the Church of San Clemente, where Christianity and paganism meet – one of those places where you can come close to feeling the history of Europe exemplified in a single building. (Diocletian’s Palace and the Cathedral in Split are my other favourite examples of this).
Yes, I think I noticed you had started another Larkin-related discussion; I meant to come back and comment, but got distracted by work… As you say, it’s now much harder ever to find these things again… Takes half the fun out of it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Basil Chamberlain
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

Yourcenar’s work paid homage to Flaubert as I recall.
It was quite a sensation when it was published in the early 50’s.

Hadrian is a fascinating subject, perhaps one day we will unearth ‘his’ real Memoirs.

For myself it has to be the Pantheon, and just around the corner the sinister Gothic Dominican Friary Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. (The cheek of it!)

I am with you on Diocletian and the magnificent Split. The Cathedral was originally the great man’s tomb was it not?

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

It was indeed – his mausoleum erected in 305 (second oldest structure used today as a Christian cathedral)! And the nearby Baptistery is very obviously a Roman temple too. I could have sworn that somewhere in Split there was an extraordinary statue of the Christ child that basically looked like a classical Hermes (actually thought it was in that Baptistery) – but I can’t now trace it. Perhaps it was somewhere else…

Wonder Walker
Wonder Walker
3 years ago

Brilliant quote, thanks!

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago
Reply to  Wonder Walker

Glad you liked it!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Maybe it is you which are about Nihil-Nothing, because actual reality, not the one you have constructed, is about something. Naturally we are very limited and small, which is frighting as AI is coming and I have an absolute feel it is going to be opening the Pandora Box, only without Hope, But we are too small and limited to even understand the trappings of ultimate, or so I suspect, being agnosticish.

Can a rabbit even conceive of a motorboat, even a wheel? Can we conceive of that which is so far above our ability? I always liked the Ontological Argument, Anslem: “which he defines God as “a being than which no greater can be conceived,””

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

When someone returns from the dead I will be confounded
Until that time we shall just have to accept the logical position that nothing awaits us, or as the ‘yoof’ of today say “game over”.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago

It is a win-win situation. If there is nothing after death (some might say there is nothing before it either) then you won’t know about it. If there is, then you will be pleasantly (one hopes) surprised and delighted.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff H

Exactly, thank you.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

“We shall just have to accept…” Oh, since we were on the topic again, I can’t resist another few phrases of Larkin:
“what we know, / Have always known, know that we can’t escape, / Yet can’t accept.”

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

Delicious! That sense of anger and frustration at the inevitable!

I must admit that Larkin’s lugubrious facial expression always impressed me and still does.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Well, at least the above article (call it what you will) caused you to write your comment which is well worth reading.

The juxtaposition is interesting.

If only the whole boring ‘women v’s men’ scenario was left out of the article it would have been much more interesting.

Christopher Gage
Christopher Gage
3 years ago

Postmodernism is a mind-virus. That much is clear.
‘Women are better than men, but men oppress women, and there are no differences between men and women, but women are superior but men oppress them, yet gender is a social construct.’
Right…

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

You’d think that people who hold a view of feminine superiority would be more vocal about random men who suddenly identify as women and demand to be treated as such. Many of these women are active participants in the deconstruction of womanhood itself.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

“Yes, yes, sometimes 2+2=4 Winston. But if the party says so, sometimes 2+2=5, sometimes 3, and sometimes all of them at once.”

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago

I thought I’d been tricked into reading ‘pseuds corner’. But if people can get paid for writing this kind of stuff, please can I have a go too?

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

Clickbait. Unherd? Un-read. Done with it.

Richard E
Richard E
3 years ago

Maybe we should head the words of Martin Luther King, and judge people by their characters and disregard all the other labels, categories, identity groups, victim groups and oppressor groups they could be allocated to.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago

What a thoroughly unpleasant article. I read the first two paragraphs and really wish I hadn’t.
I shall, however, remember the writer’s name, and make a point of avoiding everything she writes from now on.

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago

The only thing about this article that especially struck me is the description of Ms Gold’s erstwhile beau.
What, I wonder, other than his eccentric dress-sense, was “extraordinary” about him?
And why on earth would a woman spend the night, let alone a whole autumn, with a man not only old enough to be her father, but also (even if only “faintly”) “repellent”?
I do not actually want answers to these questions.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  David Brown

He’s repellent now because it’s over. Two things I have noticed about a remarkable number of women is that they rarely if ever have anything pleasant to say about their exes, and indeed rapidly edit them out of their story; and that however tidal the floods of tears when it all ends, they’re over him literally the instant someone fresh gives them the glad eye.

Chris Clark
Chris Clark
3 years ago

Couldn’t even bring myself to read this, based on the title. And from a quick survey of the comments, my decision was a good one. Good writers are good at writing and always have been. No other descriptors are either necessary or welcome.

Jim le Messurier
Jim le Messurier
3 years ago

Nothing in this article makes me remotely interested in any of these writers. I have no clue what the writer is on about. Utterly undecipherable and probably intentionally so – unless you are a feminist, which I’m not.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Fewer and fewer people still drink the feminist koolaid.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

And if anyone dared to write that men have always been better writers than females, he’d be cancelled by an irate mob of woke women screaming about sexism.

But when Tanya does it, a different standard applies.

Because feminists like Tanya are fighting oppressive double standards….

Is it just me, or are feminists like Gold becoming tedious beyond belief?

Last edited 3 years ago by John Jones
peterbobwalton
peterbobwalton
3 years ago

Oh dear. Did it ever occur to you that men are interested in male issues written by men? We’re very different creatures.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
3 years ago

The point of this article is….?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron Kevali

Well, the bit about the UKIP guy was quite entertaining. Also, it reveals that you don’t need to travel the world to experience very different people and cultures. They are right here, under our noses.
That aside, I did look through a couple of these book in the bookshops before they closed the bookshops, possibly forever. They looked interesting/entertaining and if I can find them for free or next-to-nothing in the charity shops, I will read them.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fraser Bailey
John Lewis
John Lewis
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think the gratuitous reference to UKIP was meant to show how edgy and daring our heroine is.

The reality (assuming a degree of truth in the story) is that with minimal effort on his part the 50 something male seems to have done rather well out of the association, something the writer would never admit.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Lewis
Jurek Molnar
Jurek Molnar
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron Kevali

Who cares?

Richard E
Richard E
3 years ago

Such a boring and badly written article though lol
And by a woman who thinks women are the best writers.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago

Well that was Clickbait. Which I wouldn’t have minded if the article had been readable. It badly needed subbing.

Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

Scrubbing, surely?

Lucille Dunn
Lucille Dunn
3 years ago

Lesley sounds deranged. I lived in Aberdeen for four years and it’s nothing like a Gulf state, much less a desert Caliphate. A lazy, sloppy simile from someone who knows nothing about it, apart from the oil connection. Did she really go there? And where on earth is the m&sturb&tion in Jane Eyre??

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucille Dunn

As far as I can tell from the reviews, she hung around pubs and bars in Aberdeen trying to pick up drunk workers. Based on that she drew a few conclusions about the offshore hydrocarbon production sector, before reverting to her favourite subject of herself.
This seems a bit like commenting on open-heart surgery based on what you learned trying to pick up nurses.
I’m not interested in cokeheads’ views on anything really.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

Women are better writers than men, if you like the kind of things women write about. Men are better suited for entertaining men.
My wife made me read some books written by women and I read about four. To me, they were all the same. Things happened, there was some action and then the heroine sat at home thinking about the consequences of everything, what her friends and family would think, how it would affect her special relationship.
If a man had written them, the action would have gone on and on and on – without stopping. Much better.

Last edited 3 years ago by Chris Wheatley
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Try ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns, a recent winner of the Booker Prize. I think it’s a truly fantastic novel, probably the best British novel I’ve read since ‘Brick Lane’, also written by a woman.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

OK, thanks. I tried your recommendation ‘Clever Lands’ and it was very good. So, I will also try ‘Milkman’.

C Spencer
C Spencer
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Think you are falling into her trap. Middlemarch is one of the best books ever written as are Jane Eyre/ Austen’s novels etc , but it if you prefer contemporary writing Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout is a masterpiece. The titular character is very human not a ‘nice’ person at all but very funny and moving. Ann Tyler. Marylinne Robinson, Margaret Attwood (some), Viriginia Woolf ‘Mrs Dalloway’. etc.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

In reading this, one gets the sense that women often have a tortured relationship with sex. Perhaps there is a consumer segment for which this is interesting.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yes, sex is sometimes enjoyable and gratifying, but mostly just something you needed to do. I feel much the same way about taking a dump, and indeed all my other bodily functions.
I’ve never felt a need to write a whole novel about it, but as a deadpan parody of neurotic femfiction it could be quite funny.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jon Redman
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

Bizarre that an article claimimg women (all women presumably) are better writers than men should be so bl**dy awful. It’s existence disproves the premise.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

I thought gender was a social construct anyway?

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Do you think this was written for her therapy class and accidently got published?

Bertie B
Bertie B
3 years ago

I was going to comment – but it seems that everyone else got there first and with far better things to say than I.
It is interesting though that the discussion is entirly one sided, no-one (it would seem) has anything supportive to say. That fact alone fills me with confidence that the world hasn’t gone entirely mad.

Frank Smith
Frank Smith
3 years ago

More toxic anti-male bigotry by a feminist
I guess it’s okay for feminists to claim female supremacy, whether it is true or not. Obviously saying “women are superior at XXX” is false.

Christopher Kendrick
Christopher Kendrick
3 years ago

Unherd getting in fashionably early for 1st April? Titanya McGold perhaps…

Dennis Wheeler
Dennis Wheeler
3 years ago

“Women have always been better writers”
Really just no need to bother reading beyond this inane headline. Utter bosh.

Steve Hall
Steve Hall
3 years ago

Sugar and spice and all things nice…… please grow up, Tanya. There are some pretty good female writers around. I’m sure Unherd could find a few if they tried.

Last edited 3 years ago by Steve Hall
Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

I don’t understand the mindset behind this piece, although it did have a kind of Lars von Trier vibe to it.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Yes, I was thinking ‘Breaking The Waves’ as I read the final paragraphs. And now I notice that the image accompanying the article is probably a still from the film. It was a film left me physically drained for about 24 hours when I first saw it at the cinema*, and I thought it a truly great film. But I was much less taken with a subsequent viewing on DVD.
*This article is having the same effect…

Last edited 3 years ago by Fraser Bailey
Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I saw that film too recently for the first time. It had precisely the same effect on me that you describe.

C Spencer
C Spencer
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think it is a masterpiece but dubious in certain aspects and what’s wrong with that as a work of art? As a director he obviously pushed every boundary and we all feel he went far into that territory, which is what makes us all feel uncomfortable. Having said that it seems like he exploited Bjork rather than pushed her in Dancer in the Dark. Emily Watson is the only person who can tell us the truth re Breaking The Waves.

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
3 years ago

American newspaper insist that the headline accurately reflects the story; this one doesn’t. The article fits the usual complaint about so many female writers that they write about being women and the problems women have with men; this has become tedious. Women are fascinating but not that fascinating to male readers.
Some women write as well as men and better than some who get published. My wife pointed me in the direction of Elizabeth Strout who turned out to be superb and reminded me of William Keepers Maxwell. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent was a tour de force. The first two volumes of Wolf Hall were a masterful, or should that be mistressly, piece of original writing in a different voice from that of Mantel’s other work which I liked a lot less.
Both sexes are capable of writing unreadable rubbish and getting it published but it shouldn’t be a competition anyway if feminists are speaking truly when they say the objective is equality.
Literary criticism is deeply subjective. I just read a paean to the writing of John Buchan including his 39 Steps which must be the worst book ever written.
Men have long since integrated the fact that their chief characteristic is that they are all unsuitable in some way which is why so women many take them to bed straight after meeting them. If unsuitability is really a sort of virtue, that works for me.

Last edited 3 years ago by Pierre Pendre
CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

I have just, as it happens, finished 39 Steps- my wife put it in front of me. Its only value is as unwitting testimony to the prevalent social assumptions and attitudes in the United Kingdom in the first fifteen years of the twentieth century. It has no literary merit whatsoever- how it has never been out of print is incomprehensible to me.

Last edited 3 years ago by CYRIL NAMMOCK
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 years ago

The Guardian “comments” below their story about the Aberdeen book’s author are actually quite illuminating, from many people who live there and/or work on the rigs.
It seems Lasley’s book about the rigs ended up being about the author herself and her love-life, which will hardly make it stand out from the chick-lit crowd.

Last edited 3 years ago by Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 years ago

Aberdeen can be a dire place also but I’m afraid this piece is about middle class angst at a world they fear. The writer could have got a job “ on the rigs” in catering for example if she wanted to tell a story.

Sample comment from:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jan/31/tabitha-lasley-sea-state-interview-oil-rigs

Last edited 3 years ago by Brendan O'Leary
Dean Baker
Dean Baker
3 years ago

from a poem, God’s Daughters “What’s unforgivable in these two fools,
besides their house-proud humility and fate,
is believing men are creatures:
of which society cannot speak, while women
are God’s darlings who wander solicitously meek”
https://deanbakerpoetryandsongs.com/2020/10/17/gods-daughters/
©Dean Baker

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
3 years ago

If you enjoy reading about women’s issues and their problems with men then I must concede they are definitely better at that. At least those in that that rather large contingent who seem to write about and probably read little else.

Graeme Archer
Graeme Archer
3 years ago

Shudder.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
3 years ago

Beware essays that open with “I”, “Ego”.
One of two things can be going on: The writer is indicating that the piece is coming from a personal perspective; that perspective may hardly be representative; take it as a single datum. Or, the essay is a solipsistic hash of hash.
This essay reads more like randomly generated solipsistic hash. “I, Computer!”

Don Butler
Don Butler
3 years ago

Women writers may be better than men, but we know for sure one who is not: Tanya Gold. Oh, and would someone please give her a primer on punctuation?

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago

Ugh, I suppose at least one of these women has fallen far below her once middle class station, but this was a colonialization of sorts, a middle class contempt of these men with a sense of entitlement and profit motive, As well as predatory sex. Well, at least one was abused by sexism, when she fell out of her middle class bubble, true. However, this sounds like Blaxploitation, with crude women using mens sexually and deciding that their own “exploitation naaaraaaarative” justifies their self- and other contempt. Like privileged writers before them. Yet somehow loftier, because “women.”

Key Olney
Key Olney
3 years ago

I don’t think she means “man-hating” as some of the commenter complains. I think she means that there is going to be more a certain kind of female writer, whose cruelty and guile will lead to extraordinary writing. I think she has her pulse on an emerging genre of sorts.
Fascinating but also, I agree, repellent. But there is no longer a place “bad boy” writers, so we will have to make do

Howard Beale
Howard Beale
3 years ago

That is why I will cheer you on… after all you are using an old male attention getting technique to get the attention you so desperately crave!… why you crave it I don’t know
.
Us everyday ordinary men don’t have time or interest in craving attention like that…
Sadly, you are celebrating the worst characteristics of males and abandoning the best characteristics of the females we love
 which is why we love our wives, daughters, sisters and grandmothers, aunts
 and on and on


Last edited 3 years ago by Howard Beale
Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago

They’re taking over male spaces without sacrificing their femininity“. Does that mean they are going to go into men’s public lavatories and changing rooms without even a stick-on beard?

Last edited 3 years ago by Geoff H
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

“Women have always been better writers”
This is every bit as offensive as it she had said the opposite. Or that white people are better writers than black people and vice versa. Why is this kind of prejudice acceptable?

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

It’s acceptable because the New Sexism allows double standards that favour women.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

What a ridiculous comment. Given the brilliance of literature written by men, even if we take into account women were not writing as much as men, or being allowed to write, it is truly bigoted to claim females have always been better writers.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
3 years ago

When I was teaching A Level English, I’d have graded this at about Grade E. The final paragraph, for instance, tries to use caesura as a rhetorical effect in the form of grammatically simple sentences. It seems to me to be incoherent like much of the article where the author uses a similar pattern of staccato breathless statements that tumble over each other rather than building a case. Sadly I’m sure some post modernist feminist academic would accuse me of ‘priveleging’ masculine style over maenad style. Only feelings matter even if chaotic?

Fabian Destouches
Fabian Destouches
3 years ago

“women posting their Ls online”
“journalists posting their Ls online”

Hubert Knobscratch
Hubert Knobscratch
3 years ago

Gold by name, but after reading the above – not by nature

tom j
tom j
3 years ago

wtf

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

“It is an incursion into masculine places by women who lose no femininity to get there.”
These days, it seems to be incursions into any and all places by trans activists who have no femininity to lose.

Graeme Caldwell
Graeme Caldwell
3 years ago

Indeed, although some of us unregenerate types might also consider publicizing an addiction to shagging drunk oil workers while off your tits on coke a “loss of feminity”

Last edited 2 years ago by Graeme Caldwell
google
google
3 years ago

Women have always been better writers – for women readers. TG seems not to realise that women like different kinds of books to men. Much more of this garbage, and I will simply stay away from this site. Dare no-one just say ‘no’ to her?

Chris Scott
Chris Scott
3 years ago

Well that’s a pretty broad stroke of the generalisation brush and that’s only reading the heading and sub-heading. I assume you were being ironic. I’m going to have some hobnobs and a coffee and get started on the rest of the article.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Scott

You will need more than hobnobs to get through this article.

Graeme Caldwell
Graeme Caldwell
3 years ago

Tanya Gold is slowly turning into Laura Riding, which she may, unfortunately, consider a compliment.

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago

Have you really been doing this for 20 years ? How come I didn’t notice your stuff until recently ? Did your kids just leave home ? Or perhaps you’ve set up an opinion factory churning out articles in the way the paintings on the Hyde park railings are made in a factory in the Philippines .