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Writer’s comments about female and homosexual writers made worse by explanation

Photo courtesy of Sandrine Expilly

David Gilmour, a Canadian author and professor at the University of Toronto, recently made a controversial claim in an interview with Hazlitt, an online magazine published by Random House of Canada.

Gilmour told the magazine he is not interested in teaching books by women.

“I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love,” said Gilmour. “Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women.”

The icing on the cake came when Gilmour stated very clearly who he will teach.

“What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys.”

In response to the massive amount of criticism stirred up by such  comments, Gilmour defended himself in an interview with the National Post, claiming that “there isn’t a racist or sexist bone in my body.”

The only rational explanation for Gilmour’s comments is that he does not understand what racism or sexism means. He could have said he hasn’t found a suitable book by a woman to fit with his course material. Instead, he said he is uninterested in teaching books by women in general.

Gilmour made an extremely sexist claim by suggesting that books by women are inherently different than those written by men. He therefore suggests that books should no longer be divided by genre, but by the author’s gender. Also, by saying that he can only teach books by “serious, heterosexual” men, Gilmour implies that homosexuals, as well as women, are not serious enough to be taught in university settings. The fact that he can make such claims and then assert that he is not sexist in a national paper is very alarming.

In his interview with the National Post, Gilmour also defended himself on the grounds that he made the original comments carelessly. Gilmour said he was “speaking to a Frenchman” during the interview and was “more concerned with my French than I was with what I was saying to this young woman.”

Even though Gilmour thinks this was a good defence for why he made the comments, it made the original offence even worse. As a person in the public eye, he needs to be aware of what he says and what type of effect it has on people. He should take all  his interviews seriously and know that the comments he makes could potentially come back and bite him if he isn’t careful.

The only semi-intelligent remark he made was how he wasn’t interested in books by women because they weren’t as relatable to him. Even though this is understandable to a degree, it isn’t true. The content of a book governs whether the story is relatable to a person, not the writer’s gender. It has more to do with the content of the book and quality of the characters.

Gilmour needs to open his mind and give all writers a chance, no matter their gender.