Could you be any more patronizing and dismissive towards women author who write primarily about and for women if you tried? Not chick lit (Bridget Jones) but Joy Luck Club? Bel Canto? The Year of Magical Thinking? Birds of America? And how have you managed to avoid even hearing about Persopolis and FUn Home?While I can understand (if not agree with) how a cursory glance at those curt comments in isolation might lead to such accusations, this responder brings up something that I think is well worth considering before any odd and sundry epithets are tossed about cavalierly. If as a relatively young (early-to-mid 30s) male, I come across something that apparently was "not for me," either by its subject matter being intended for a different audience and I note it (say in a more polite fashion than how my comments were construed as being), would it be "sexist" to shrug and read something else? If something is "not for me" in its aims and/or marketing and I follow that by not paying attention to it, does it automatically make me "sexist?"
I suggest you go back to your ever so charming list and look at the ways you said "no" to books by women and by men, because you come across here as a someone who thinks himself far better that that tatty little books for women -- in other words, a sexist stuck-up snob.
Perhaps, perhaps not, if that is all that is known. Keeping in mind all along that the comments from the late night were meant more to play off of vague awarenesses of intended audiences (and sometimes-silly titles), if I were to read a work "not for me" and failed to understand such a work and I stated that it "wasn't for me," would there also be a backlash? If I were posting that list now, I probably would have stated openly at the beginning (well, even more openly, I suppose) that I was going to mock titles of books I knew little to nothing about, just because I was bored and wanted to do so. But I also would have made it quite clear that apparently such a list was mostly "not for me" because the apparent common values, recognitions, and so forth were never presented as being for me. Staid bourgeois novels are great for some; I tend to feel excluded from the narratives they tell. Most of the books on that list seem to fall into that broad category of being "bourgeois," from what little I've heard.
It seemed strange to some in the comments to that post that I hadn't heard of X, Y, or Z, despite apparently being well-read in other areas. It really isn't surprising to me, though. I don't read many magazines these days, outside of National Geographic and occasionally a few haute couture periodicals such as The Atlantic or Harper's. I don't watch much TV, and thus I only hear about certain "book club" selections weeks or months afterwards. In an odd way, when I'm not actively searching for something, whole subgenres slide past me. I'm not part of their intended market audience.
Furthermore, based on the sampling (around 1/5 of that list) that I've read, most of those books do seem to be, as that one irate replier stated, "primarily about and for women." In particular, about bourgeois women, if I had to guess based on the few that I've read. There is nothing "wrong" about it and in fact (which may or may not come as a surprise to the commenter) I have read and enjoyed some of those books. However, it was a struggle for me at times, akin to reading a foreign language. There were codes embedded in those narratives that I "got," and those that I did not. So it goes. But if, and this is a big if here, such narratives unintentionally or intentionally exclude 48% of the general populace and that percent is left feeling, for whatever reason, that the book is "not for me," then how difficult is it going to be for that reader (male, in my particular case, but say female in the cases of those who try to read certain "men's literature" books and fail to grasp its appeal) to try a second time?
I am not defending my reading habits (if I were, my reading preferences might surprise those expecting an easy pattern to decipher), only noting the difficulties on occasion. But it is interesting to observe the defensiveness in that quoted comment. If it's "not for me," then is it "pathetic to me?" Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the ire of that one person, but her presumption there is intriguing to me. Could it be that this is more of an issue of "otherness" and how "alien" writings/thoughts/symbols are threatening? Of how what seems to be "natural" to me is but "blindness" to another? Possibly. I have a relatively privileged background; I'm more aware of it having worked most of my life in so-called "feminine jobs" (teaching, social services). But being aware does not automatically translate into grasping fully what others are experiencing; there are still "blind spots." So perhaps even if I had restated the curt comments into saying "not for me," it would have been viewed not just as an acknowledgment that I would have a much more difficult time in processing and enjoying such books, but that it would be taken as being "dismissive," as the poster labels it.
It is something worth considering at some length, I believe. I do try to read more than just my "comfort zones," but damn is it ever difficult on occasion to step into places where the intended writing message(s) is/are "not for me." Sometimes, certain value assumptions I'm presumed to have, despite whatever may or may not be the conscious/subconscious case. Regardless, that list was not compiled for me - it is for a different target audience. It certainly does not represent me or many others.