Sunday, January 14, 2007

Publishing: Where Men are Men and Women are Wives and Daughters

The other day I was on some discussion boards, talking with Momisafan, reading comments from Momofagreatkid, trading ideas with TiffanysMom and BradsGurl. And ya know, I didn't notice anyone going by BradsDad, TiffanysBoy, or Dadofagreatkid.

You know what I'm saying here? I see a lot women online who identify themselves not as themselves but as their relationship to others. I don't see a lot of guys doing the same.

Maybe it's a social trend that somehow I haven't been privy to. Maybe it explains the rash of "woman as relationship" book titles I've been seeing on the shelves.

Here are just a few:

The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn

The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Iain Lawrence

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan

Mozart's Wife by Juliet Waldron

Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander

So when you spot a trend like that, you wonder if it's really a trend, or if you're just noticing it because you're looking for it. Okay, to be fair, then, I figured I'd look for the So-and-so's father, husband, or son, and see how many titles I could find.

It took a lot of looking. This was all I could scrounge up between and

The Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Son of a Wanted Man by Louis L'Amour

The Ambassador's Son by Homer Hickam

The Keeper's Son by Homer Hickam

A Son of the Middle Border by Hamlin Garland

Fortunate Son by Walter Mosley

Notice I had to go back a bit for these titles, back to the era of "Son of Godzilla" and "Son of Hercules" and earlier. And the last title doesn't even tell us whose son is so fortunate while the second to the last is about the fellow's geographical identity. Lots of books about women who are identified by their relationship with someone else. Few books about men characterized in the same way.

I'm not sure what's up with all this. But I've noticed it, and it set me to wondering.


Dick Margulis said...

Nicely observed. You may be somebody's daughter/lover/sister/wife/mom (any or none of the above), but you're nobody's fool.

Don said...

The working title for my novel in progress is The Archbishop's Son. At least it will stand out

Mez said...

Reminds me of a song by Judy Small I still remember quite well from a long time back ( and The chorus is

"The first time it was fathers the last time it was sons
And in between your husbands marched away with drums and guns
And you never thought to question you just went on with your lives
'Cause all they'd taught you who to be was mothers, daughters, wives"

[ sample (RealMedia) or and full-tune midi – I think it's originally from 'Ladies & Gems', aka 'Mothers, Daughters, Wives'] My mother would have been about the age of the generation she's singing about.