Sexist Sentence?

I’m reading Exile and the Kingdom, a collection of short stories by Albert Camus. The context of the excerpt below is a merchant making a sales call.  Consider whether you feel the following sentence is sexist:

“He got excited, raised his voice, laughed nervously, like a woman who wants to make an impression and is not sure of herself.”

Think about how this sentence reads with some gender swapping and a minor adjustment:

“She got excited, lowered her voice, laughed nervously, like a man who wants to make an impression and is not sure of himself.”

[Also note the use of both the past and present tenses (raised/lowered-wants/is). Good example of wielding artistic license and being intentional?]

The other thing I find interesting is related to my current crusade to see writing from the perspective of the writer. It’s quite easy to objectively experience this sentence existentially, given the source.

I’m sharing this example primarily because of our recurring conversations about the treatment of gender in our writing. What constitutes an “authentic” voice between genders? Pondering rhetorical questions such as this one can bring a greater awareness and impact to our writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *