So you’re on a date, and a mean, rude, heartless lady asks if you’ve ever read a book written by a woman. Not a specific woman—any woman. Firstly, this question is rude. Secondly, what did you say to deserve this? You only talked about Hunter S. Thompson for 45 minutes—that’s less than an hour! Thirdly, you haven’t. It’s not your fault, and you should never have to feel bad about literally anything. So I have some tips on how to deal with this situation.

1. Claim maybe you have read books written by women, but you just don’t know it, because women are so silly and sometimes don’t use their own names. You were almost tricked into reading a George Eliot novel, before someone warned you. I mean, you dodged a bullet, because that book probably talked a lot about, like, stationary or something girly. But still.

trigger warning

Pinnacle

Rumor says that this book was secretly written by a woman. 

2. No, you haven’t read a book written by a woman, but you’ve read books written by men who’ve read books written by women. So by the transitive property (which you might have to explain, if they don’t know math), you’ve read books written by a woman.

3. Lecture her on how gender is a construct, so what does it even mean for a book to be “written” by a “woman.” This kills two birds with one stone—you’ll look like an incredible feminist, and you’ll shut down the conversation.

4. Tease her for being obsessed with Harry Potter (the first and only woman-written book that comes to mind). But pat yourself on the back for knowing that, because J.K. Rowling did try to do that name-tricky-thing.

Rowling at the White House in 2010

Daniel Ogren

"She's a little obscure, but I like to stay informed about such things."

5. Ask if a woman wrote Holes.

6. While you didn’t read “Untamed” per se, you did read the front cover, when you bought it for your mom. You have no idea what it’s about, but it was written by a woman, and your mom’s a woman, so it seemed like a good fit.

7. Affirm that you voted for Hillary. I mean, what was the point in even doing that, if you’re not going to be able to use it later to build cred as a feminist icon.

State of Terror

Macmillan

You've even preordered the book Clinton "wrote" about a heroic secretary of state!

8. Bring up the inherent pretension in the question. Maybe you just don’t read books. Not everyone went to Harvard! You did, but still. 

9. Oh, and while you’re bringing up things, bring up that you went to Harvard. You haven’t mentioned it since before you started talking about Hunter S. Thompson, so maybe she forgot.

10. Ask her if she’s ever watched a man do ballet, and then point out the hypocrisy—okay, never mind, she has watched a man do ballet. Show-off.

KCB Dancers Michael Davis & Craig Hall perform to Ian Poulis' piece, 'Reflections: A Culmination'

KCBalletMedia

Ask about his bulge. Ask if he was bigger than you ... but, like, in a subtle way.

11. Say something smart about Sally Rooney. Like that you thought the bucket hats were ugly.

12. Go to the bathroom and never come back. This is actually an incredible date tip in general.

13. Remind her that you’re a social justice advocate, which means you won’t read books written by women until the publishing industry pays women as much as men. No, you don’t have any way of finding out when or if that happens. But just keep talking about the grape boycott until she gives up on the whole conversation.

holding grapes

Maja Petric

"I'm an ally. Meaning, I'm-a lie with you, tonight." 

14. Tell her it’s not just men who don’t read books written by women. Your niece Katie hasn’t either (she’s two and doesn’t know how to read). You don’t need to bring up Katie’s age—that’s her own business.

15. Say that David Foster Wallace’s editor was a woman. She wasn't (I think a woman would have cut it down to below 1,000 pages), but still.

Florence Foster Jenkins

BBC Films

Hey, didn't Meryl Streep play her in a movie?

16. Pick a wedgie. That will distract her from the bad thing you did by doing something much worse.

17. Confirm that you do read some stuff written by women, just not necessarily books. After all, a woman probably wrote the nutrition facts for the cereal you’re eating right now. Women are, like, obsessed with calories.

18. Explain why subtitled movies should count.

squid game

Netflix

Not just women movies. Anything with subtitles. 

19. But you loved GIRLS.

20. But you loved Lady Bird.

21. But you loved I May Destroy You.

22. But you loved AOC’s last tweet.

23. Also her last haircut.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Franmarie Metzler

"I mean, it wasn't $300 good, no one ever spends that much on hair. Still nice though!"

24. Beat your chest and scream a Rumi quote.

25. Tell her that if she’s such a feminist, she can pay the whole bill. (You forgot your wallet anyway.)

26. Read a book written by a woman. You could probably even go for a short story and try to pass it off as a full book.

27. Lie. Actually, this is by far the easiest option. There’s no way she knows every female author. Just say you love Jane Pretty McJane.

Top image: Daniel Ogren, Sarah Mirk

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