Martin Amis, named one of Britain’s most influential novelists, is perhaps better known for his portrayal of a difficult, at-times unpleasant misogynist. That’s not to say he’s not a brilliant writer, he is, but he is definitely widely interpreted as having a fascination with the dynamics of gender and, indeed, his writing tends to deal with difficult misogynistic traits and the suppression or eradication of women.
But, it’s easy to miss the point when you’re arguing about a celebrity here, and a novelist at that: he’s a rather brilliant professor of creative writing, he has inspired aspiring writers across the world, but his people skills are less than brilliant. Back in 2010 he commented about Katie Price’s success as an author and said, "She has no waist, no arse ... an interesting face ... but all we are really worshipping is two bags of silicone."
If that wasn’t enough, he went on to say, on a separate occasion, that the feminist sexual revolution had considerable downsides, and that women had “almost got too many powers for the harmony of their own lives”.
Having battled with interrogations and accusations of having a bad attitude, it comes as some surprise that Amis, now 62, recently announced at the Hay Festival that in fact women were superior writers. When it came to sex, that is.
“There is a difference between real sincerity and literary sincerity. When you’re told about the death of a friend you can burst into tears but you can’t burst into song.”
“But I would say there’s a bit more song in women’s writing, there’s more real sincerity in women’s writing.” He said in an interview.
“And before I tiptoe away from this, I’d say the reason why women write better about sex - which is almost impossible to write about and no-one has done it very well, ever - is that as a novelist you are in a God-like relation to what you create.”
“You are omnipotent and the question of potency is embarrassing for men. It is the great hidden weakness in men, that potency can fail, and it’s not something that troubles women. They have a lot else to worry about, but not that.”
“So once a man is writing a sex scene he’s feeling omnipotent and he’s forgotten about all those fiascos and no-shows. But women don’t, and they write better about it.” Amis concluded.
The fact is, contrary to what Amis says, impotency in its various guises does affect women, and real sex is not about knee-buckling, hour-long orgasms you see in films. Real sex is about real people, and that often means real problems too. Certainly women share their fair share of fiascos and no-shows in the bedroom, but that’s just a part of what real sex is: as much as we’d like it to be, it’s not all satin sheets and hours of uninterrupted orgasmic pleasure.
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