Posts Tagged ‘Meg Elison’

What if women wrote about men the way men write about women?

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

What if women wrote about men then way men write about women? Here’s the sort of thing that gives us pause:

And that’s about a man talking about his 14-year-old daughter? He’s turned on by her ribbons? As someone replied on Twitter, it makes you want to go and take a shower. Or perhaps turn the tables a bit. With luck, we might be able to jeer this whole tired genre out of existence. 

Meg Elison gives us some examples in how to flip the genders over at McSweeney’s:

There is a particular look about a teenage boy that lets you know what kind of man he’ll be. A certain fullness of lips, a frank sensuality in his gaze. We all know what the word for that is, but it’s not polite to use it until he’s proven he’s that kind of boy.


Hugin was chosen, among all the boys of the village, to compete in the Races. He had grown up, the child of a simple, lovely baker, and his wife, the wolf-hunter. Hugin wore his hair in simple golden waves and had the longest legs anyone had ever seen, coated in fine, silky down. When the yearly selection began, other boys watched Hugin. They knew he would be the one, and they pouted.


Brett pulled his tank top up over his head and stared at himself in the full-length mirror. He pushed down his jeans, then his boxers, and imagined the moment when Jennifer saw him nude for the first time. His feet were average-sized, and there was hair on his toes that he should probably take care of before tonight. He liked his legs just fine, but his thighs were wide and embarrassingly muscular. He tried standing at an angle, a twist at his waist. Some improvement. In that position, it was easier to see his ass and notice that it was not as pert as it had been at 22. He clenched both cheeks, hoping that tightened its look. He sucked in his tummy and pulled his pecs up high, trying to present them like pastries in a bakery window. Would she like him? Were the goods good enough? He pouted his lips and ran his hands over his thighs, masking their expanse. Maybe.

The subject did not idly occur to me. While rambling through my Twitter feed today…I found a tweet by  that got close to 92K retweets and 102K likes. That’s a lot of applause. The original tweet is here, but we won’t post because the Book Haven is a family blog. (We paused at the adverb “hairily”.)

We’ll just post a few of our favorites:


Sound far-fetched? Not at all. I’ve heard many passages just as absurd and arbitrary in the works of famous writers.

Many of the tweets today were too salty for the delicate ears of the Book Haven’s gentle readers – we feel like we’re pushing our luck with the last one, but the image of the coin purse made it an indispensable addition. (Note bene: That’s taut not taught, but … Twitter.) We’ll leave you with this gentler gender-switching prose, from Elison:

“But I don’t get it!” Shea was panting, trying to catch up to Michael as he fled. “The monster ate everyone else. How did you escape?”

Michael reached the boat first, flinging himself in. He waited for Shea to follow him and take the oars, guiding them smoothly away from the shore.

“It’s because I was different from the other boys,” he said, pushing his hair behind his ear and looking away.

“What do you mean, different?” Shea’s muscles rippled and flexed as she rowed them to safety, and Michael could not tear his eyes away.

“Different. Pure, the monster said. Because I’m… I’ve never…” He looked away again, and the moonlight caught on his throat, outlined his clavicle.

“You’re a virgin,” Shea said, realization dawning. “What a waste.”

Michael blushed.

“If we get out of this alive,” she said. “I’m going to fix that.”

Read more here.

Postscript on 9/10: