I’m married, so my response is less about dating profiles and more about men’s reading habits in general.
I’m currently a high school English teacher, and I put myself through college working at two different kinds of consumer book stores. Over the years I’ve picked up on some of the reading habits of men and women. Keep in mind that these observations are unscientific and based on my personal experience. Also note that there are ALWAYS exceptions to generalizations, my generalizations below included.
- Women read significantly more than men, from high school into old age. Unfortunately, a lot of men seem to have been trained into believing that reading is a feminine activity. This is heartbreaking to me and I spend every working day trying to break through this viewpoint with my male students.
- Generally speaking, many of the men who do read gravitate towards business books, history, fantasy, and sci-fi. Military fiction is also pretty popular, although I think it’s less so than it used to be. (Not that I think there’s anything wrong with those genres — sci-fi might be my most read genre.)
- I don’t think it’s always intentional, but guys do have a tendency to be more willing to try writing from a man than from a woman. I’m not really sure why this is, but it is well documented. It’s why so many female authors disguise their gender by using initials or pen names. (J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith, J.D. Robb, S.E. Hinton, etc.) Obviously, plenty of guys use pen names too, but female authors are often more or less forced to hide their female-ness by publishers who are worried about the marketability of the female author.
- While women do have a tendency to not purchase/enjoy certain super masculine authors (Cormac McCarthy comes to mind, although Oprah pimped out The Road, so it’s not like there are no exceptions to this), on the whole women are MUCH more willing to read male authors compared to men reading female authors. Generally, women are more open minded in their reading than men. I made a lot of book recommendations to customers, and now I constantly make book recommendations to high school students. Women customers and female students were/are just more willing to take a risk and give a suggested book a try. I’m not certain, but this might at least partially be due to my last observation…
- Women are more willing to give up on a book they aren’t enjoying and move onto something else. Men are more stubborn and tend to view not finishing a book as failing, which often means my male students spend MONTHS trying to brute force their way through a book they hate, calling it stupid the whole way.
As a personal anecdote, I read four or five books at the beginning of the year before realizing that they were all written by men. After noticing this, I looked back at my 2017 reading and found that out of over forty books read, fewer than ten were written by women. It wasn’t on purpose, but I guess I’m just as guilty of getting caught in the same cultural hang-ups as other men who read.
After that realization, I made it more of a point to seek out books by female authors, and I am extremely glad I did. My male/female author split is much closer to 50/50 this year. A few of my favorites include The Interestings and The Female Persuasion, both by Meg Wolitzer, read back to back. I loved the first one so much I picked up the other book the next day. Educated by Tara Westover was incredible, Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker was a blast, and Sing, Unburied , Sing by Jesmyn Ward absolutely deserved the National Book Award. I have also read more teen/YA fiction by female authors so I can make better and more diverse recommendations to my students.
I read through some of the other comments on this post, and it’s a shame how quickly some people got defensive and balled up, saying things along the lines of “I like what I like! Quit trying to dictate what I like!”
To me, that’s not really the point. No one is saying you can’t enjoy male authors. No one is saying you have to force yourself into reading an even number of male and female authors. I do think, though, that people could stand to be a little more open minded. Reading is a transformative experience. More so than maybe any other art, it allows you to temporarily live someone else’s life. You see what they see and feel what they feel, and in doing so, you better understand why they think and act the way they do. Women regularly read books written by men, and because of that, they almost certainly understand the male perspective better. So why the hell is it so shocking to suggest that we men do the same and occasionally pick up a book written by a woman? All the men that are baffled and offended by this article would probably be less so if they understood women a little better, and they certainly would if they read more female authors.