I agree with you, Libby. The article strikes me as irresponsible journalism. Faulks seems to have used reactions from readers as an occasion to reflect on presenting a female character, but the journalist didn’t present it that way.
There’s (deliberate) confusion in the article. The headline trumpets fear, but Faulks never uses either that word or says anything which implies it. It also says that he no longer describes what female characters look like. However, from what he actually says, it sounds like he does do so, simply indirectly rather than directly. (I haven’t read his new novel, and that would be the real test.) Speaking of that novel, which came out of his reflection, Snow Country, he says :
"...you do get an idea of what she (the main female character) looks like, a little bit, but only through what her female friend says to her and what she says when looking at herself in the mirror."
Jon, it seems to me that Faulks does address objectification in what he says just before the passage I’ve cited : "Although she (the female character) is the object of some desire from two men, she is not seen through, to use another vogueish phrase, the 'male gaze'…
This sounds like a quiet, mature attempt to address the question of presenting a female character by one particular writer rather than a generalised proclamation about a current problem – although it appears to deal only with physical attributes, not interior experience.
It’s sad to see the question become so polarised. Isn’t it logical that authors developing female characters or any minority group that’s been sterotyped, as Jon mentions, will have differing approaches, not only because authors are so different – thank goodness – but also because of the long history of the sterotypes.
Of course, if the journalist presented the question through the lens of quiet reflection, the paper wouldn’t sell very well. Around mid-20th century, good journalism still focused on educating the public and informing public opinion. That hardly exists any more. I don’t know the Daily Mail, but from what Kate says, it’s egregious. However, Eric read the article in The Times, and Laure says that the essential of the article is in the Mail – I assume the substance, but don’t know about the tone.
It is true that the decline of journalism has become generalised. (The New York Times was recently exposed for sloppy and possibly self-interested reporting.) So many journalists slavishly follow what they think will tantalise the public, including digging into the private lives of others. But we read that stuff, and I can’t say that I’m entirely innocent when it comes to sensationalism, even though I think it’s terribly unethical.