Hot on the boot heels of Esquire’s testosterone-filled reading list (and, you know, all that other enlightening male chauvinism throughout history), The Guardian has published portions of an interview with Nobel laureate VS Naipaul in which he says that female writers are “sentimental” and “unequal” to men. (In case you can’t tell from the picture, Naipaul is a man, not a pregnant bearded lady.) He also claims that, by reading only one paragraph, he can tell whether an author is a man or a woman. In response, The Guardian has posted a quiz – the Naipaul test – that consists of ten passages to be identified as male or female. I doubt that Naipaul will participate.
This is the part where everybody feels the need to list some good writers who are women to prove that they disagree. But I assume that most of you already know some, so I’ll move on to my results.
Though my “men are like this – women are like that” meter has been finely tuned over the years by the comedic stylings of Sinbad, I decided to test my preferences rather than my prejudices. Assuming that the results would be evenly split, I marked my favorite five passages as Male and the other five as Female. I could have done it the other way, but I didn’t. And my score? 8 out of 10 correct. With one exception, I preferred the male writers to the female writers. The exception: Toni Morrison, another Nobel Prize winner, made the cut; Nicholas Sparks did not.
Ten passages may not be a very large sample, but I think the results are clear: I hate women – but not as much as I hate The Notebook. Now back to reading.