When it comes to book reviews, I am not so naïve as to expect only glowing ones for any book I have written.
I totally understand that different people like different things, and which books they like is no exception to this.
Yet as a long-time feminist I am also aware that conscious or unconscious personal agendas may be impacting people’s opinions, especially in book reviews.
In the case of both my novels – MRS. LIEUTENANT and LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS – a great deal of research went into these books. And MRS. LIEUTENANT is also based on my own experiences as a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970.
Where there is an occasional negative review of MRS. LIEUTENANT, it appears to me that the book resonates on some emotional level for the reviewer in terms of the Vietnam War and the period in which the novel is set.
Where there is a negative review of LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS (more frequent than for MRS. LIEUTENANT), it appears to me that there is anti-feminism in the negative review, be it written by a woman or a man.
I was reminded of this when I happened to check out LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS on amazon.co.uk (Amazon’s UK site) and read a particularly nasty review from someone in Wales. (Someone probably not very familiar with American military situations.)
Now fiction is fiction – and superheroes abound in books, TV and films. While Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders is NOT a superhero (she cannot leap tall buildings with a single bound), she is driven to excel in several areas partly due to her inner demons.
If she were a male hero, I doubt she would be flayed the way she is in negative reviews of the novel. It appears that some readers just do not like to see a woman taking part in traditional male activities.
This anti-feminism prejudice in the reviews usually is cloaked in criticism of the believability of the plot points of the story.
Here is the thing, though: Mitch and I did extensive research (and continue to do research) on aspects of the U.S. Navy. And, while fiction, the novel features scenarios that are plausible.
What is even more interesting to me is that the reviews that say things in the novel are not believable do not explain which things. The negative reviewer tends to cloak the entire novel in unfeasibility.
And this is how I know that anti-feminism is very much alive in today’s supposed world of equality. On some emotional level the negative reviewer appears not to be able to accept a strong female protagonist.
In conclusion, while there may never be complete equality for women in the U.S. military, I do hope that writing about a fictional female character striving for such equality may help real women in the military achieve their own goals.
© 2012 Miller Mosaic LLC
Her screenplay DR. SOAPY can be downloaded for free at Amazon Studios at http://studios.amazon.com/projects/8259