Nobel laureate V. S. Naipaul can totally tell if a woman wrote something, because women only write sentimental drivel:
“I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.” Asked to elaborate, he said this was due to their “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world”.
He added: “And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.
“My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold it was all this feminine tosh. I don’t mean this in any unkind way.”
It isn’t just irritating because he’s dismissing women categorically as bad writers; it’s irritating because he’s dismissing what women have to say about the world and about our lives.
This is also a little irritating (second-to-last-paragraph). Listing off women whose writing is considered “masculine” and saying that their writing isn’t “feminine tosh” is a backhanded compliment. Instead of valuing the works of these women for their literary merit, this statement implies that their work should be valued because they’ve overcome the perceived weaknesses of most female authors.
I wish I could say that I’m surprised that some people still think this way, but unfortunately, I can’t.