October 17, 2021

"[Carmen] Mola is best known for a trilogy starring a 'peculiar and solitary' female police inspector 'who loves grappa, karaoke, classic cars and sex in SUVs'..."

"Last year, a branch of Spain’s Women’s Institute listed Mola’s 'The Girl,' a part of the trilogy, as one of the must-read books and films by women that 'help us understand the reality and the experiences of women.'... Only the writers spinning these tales were really Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez and Antonio Mercero — established Spanish television scriptwriters in their 40s and 50s. 'Carmen Mola is not, like all the lies we’ve been telling, a university professor,' Díaz said after winning the Planeta prize, the Financial Times reported. 'We are three friends who one day four years ago decided to combine our talent to tell a story.'"

From "A woman won a million-euro Spanish literary prize. It turned out that ‘she’ was actually three men" (WaPo).

The WaPo article, by Miriam Berger, is silly enough to begin: "The work of one woman was, it turned out, the equivalent of the labors of three men." There was no "work of one woman." There was never anything other than the work of 3 men. There's no reason to act as though 1 woman = 3 men. The woman does not exist. 

They claim they made up the pseudonym for fun and without an idea that it would serve their interests to hide inside a female identity. They seem to feel pressure to deny that they used femaleness to sell books.

Is womanface reprehensible? 

36 comments:

Readering said...

Reprehensible? Very funny.

Readering said...

Now, about the real Shakespeare...and Homer...and author of Book of Job....

Yancey Ward said...

Three men could have written a better article for WaPo.

Fernandinande said...

Is womanface reprehensible?

Any reprehensible sexism lies in the existence of "Spain’s Women’s Institute" and their list of "must-read books and films by women". Ha ha, they fooled themselves.

Bob Boyd said...

They're non-binary when it comes to authorship.

J Melcher said...

Shades of "Penelope Ashe" !

Lem said...

The trans force is strong at Wapo.

mikee said...

Go to reddit.com/r/menwritingwomen and experience the cringe of exactly what these three guys avoided. Men writing about or as women sometimes works, sometimes doesn't.

I for one enjoyed Olivier's Iago, much more than his Hamlet, so perhaps my tastes are significantly out of synchronicity with modern art modes, but to me the entire idea of cultural appropriation as a bad thing seems really, really stupid.

Biff said...

Maybe we can take this to mean that a sensitive understanding of the entire range of human experience is within reach of any who wish to engage with it.

...or maybe the entire range of human culture is a potential Sokal affair, which basically says the same thing.

Exercise for the reader: How would WaPo present the story if the three men described themselves as "trans women" or "gender fluid" or some other "non-cis" identity?

Joe Smith said...

Once again, men are better at being women than are actual women : )

Ice Nine said...

>Is womanface reprehensible?<

Hardly -- it is, on the contrary, inspired.

And to suggest that it might be reprehensible is to frankly declare that the acclamation and the award given "this"/these writers was simply for the purpose of dishonestly jacking up womanhood and not to honestly recognize the talent of the writer(s). And both of *those* are reprehensible, if that's what you are looking for as it seems.

SteveWe said...

Was Mary Ann Evans, writing as George Eliot, guilty of manface? Or more recently, Joanne Rowling writing as JK Rowling and Robert Galbraith. My favorite is Milton Supman writing and appearing in funny face, often pie face, as Soupy Sales.

rhhardin said...

Chick Lit (2016)

This is a comedy drama about four guys trying to save their local pub from closing down. The group writes a chick lit, or more specifically a "mummy porn" novel, in the style of "Fifty Shades of Grey", and it gets snapped up. The only snag, is that the publisher insists that the young female "author" does press and publicity. The guys have to keep their involvement a secret, and so engage an out of work actress to "role play" the part of the author. This leads to her becoming the star in the movie of the book. The tables are turned on the guys, and she is in control, leaving them with the awful prospect of having to secretly churn out sex novels for the foreseeable future. —Production

rhhardin said...

Braquo (2009-2016) has the coolest tough woman cop. In French with English subtitles.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm female, and I don't care if they did use femaleness to sell books. If femaleness helps, that's a problem with putting identity over art, a problem with the system and not with these men.

robother said...

Had they used the award ceremony to come out as gender fluid, and to demand a new pronoun (i.e., a plu-plural form of "they") be collectively applied when referring to any of them in the Carmen Mola identity, the literary world would be at their feet.

rhhardin said...

Maybe I'm confusing Braquo with Spiral. I think Spiral is correct. Caroline Proust plays the lady. Braquo has a lady cop too but I wasn't thinking specifically of her.

gspencer said...

What is the hubbub all about?

They identified as a female. Isn't doing something like that all the rave?

0_0 said...

S. E. Hinton and a few others have used initials to obscure their gender when it was thought that a female writer would not be desired by the book buying public.

Narayanan said...

There's no reason to act as though 1 woman = 3 men.
---------
c'mon woman

bible says God made woman from man's rib >>>> is it false/fiable

... need 3 men ribs or possibly 3 whole rack of bones

Lucien said...

Rhhardin: ChickLit sounds like an inversion of the premise of Remington Steele.

Gahrie said...

Is womanface reprehensible?

I don't know. Let's ask George Elliot.

Baceseras said...

Those lists of "must-read" books and "must-see" movies are always padded with pop kapok. Especially when they come from Institutes of any kind. The sanest outcome of this author's exposure would be if el instituto de la mujer felt a twinge of embarrassment seeing their puff go up in puff of smoke -- and then had a laugh at themselves and forgot about it.

The chance of a sane outcome, however, is slight in affairs like this, largely because of rags like the WashPost churning, churning.

wildswan said...

"police inspector 'who loves grappa, karaoke, classic cars and sex in SUVs'..."

The list alone says "man." I don't think there's a woman in the world who would report her four top loves as a drink, a kind of music, a kind of car and sex in a kind of car. I'd say She'd have a drink that her lost love favored, a kind of music that reminded her of home, a fast, expensive car that attracted men and a liking for sex in meadows with long, sweet-smelling grass closing them in. More relational, less impress the guys.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...as one of the must-read books and films by women that 'help us understand the reality and the experiences of women

Marvin Udall to the white curtsey phone...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Is womanface reprehensible?

Silence Dogood could not be reached for comment

Bill Peschel said...

There was a similar case a few years back. The appropriately named Virago Press in London announced they were coming out with a book of short stories written by a young Muslim woman, drawn on her life in the UK. In their announcement, they went on and on about how the stories accurately reflected the Muslim wymen experience in the West.

When they found out that the young and presumably photogenic young woman was in reality an elderly Church of England vicar (who worked in the community), the feminists held an auto-da-fe for the books and hushed it all up.

This is what happens when institutions and businesses believe in values that reality prove false. And when they create ads promoting those values, sometime life happens in weird ways.

JAORE said...

Ahhh, but what makes someone a woman?

I thought I knew many years ago, but today?

Help me out here, is the NYT misogynistic, homophobic or TERF?

Ambrose said...

"Naked Came the Stranger' did this 50 years ago.

khematite said...


Blogger Ambrose said...
"Naked Came the Stranger' did this 50 years ago.


Yes, and in that case it took 24 (male) writers to create the work attributed to one (non-existent) female writer. No prizes and no cultural cachet for that one, though it did make pretty good money.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-2004-02-22-0402240445-story.html

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Bill Peschel,

Wow, I hadn't heard about that one. Classic! But other instances come to mind. The Education of Little Tree, for one. Three Cups of Tea (OK, not quite the same), for another.

Big Mike said...

Hey wildswan! I guess you finally got home? Your point regarding cars is a good one. I’ve known women who were really into cars, but they are very rare. But as regards the rest, I think I could believe a Southern European woman doing a demanding job traditionally held by men (i.e,.detective) trying to demonstrate that she’s as tough as any man by drinking 110 proof brandy and being sexually aggressive. Besides, it’s fiction after all.

Critter said...

Who's the rube now? The value I place on so-called experts and elites is near zero. They only score above zero because they bring to my attention cases like this one.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

It worked.

Women have a competitive advantage as authors in the crime genre. Who reads true crime books? Who listens to the podcasts? Who watches true crime TV shows? It ain't men. If you are a guy watching true crime shows everyone is going to think you are a creep.

Women preferentially read female authors who create female characters. It's not nearly as strong a preference as men reading male authors, but it exists. A male author also avoids 75% of the Twitter hate by choosing a female pen name. It's marketing.

Does the identity of the author of a book change what we think of a book? Of course it does. All big name authors have a story and it's part of why people read their books.

These guys knew exactly what they were doing. Besides creating a fake woman, they made her a university professor, which is perfect.

Lastly, do you think only women write romance novels?


NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

Thinking about it, the day is coming where someone will be hired to play the author of books written by an AI. Someone has to do interviews and sign books.

Ghost in the machine writing.

Lurker21 said...

It sounds like they were writing about a woman under a woman's name, but not necessarily writing as a woman. That bit about classic cars and sex in SUVs was a tip-off. They weren't writing about what it means to be a woman. They were apparently writing about a character who happened to be a woman but didn't comply with traditional feminine stereotypes. But that prompts the question of just what it means to write as a woman or to be a woman. The relationship between actual femaleness or maleness and the gender stereotypes of what it means to be a woman or a man is something I couldn't begin to puzzle out.