Here’s C Hitchens defending Amis from the charge of misogyny:
So far from being some jaded Casanova, Martin possesses the rare gift — enviable if potentially time-consuming — of being able to find something attractive in almost any woman. If this be misogyny, then give us increase of it.
Yeah, no. ‘He can’t be a misogynist – he wants to fuck ’em all!’ is up there with ‘I’m not a homophobe – I’m not scared of gays’ in the annals of shit arguing.
Now, ‘misogynist’ is a bit unnuanced, but it’s still the closest thing to what we want. He’s a shockingly bad writer of women: he doesn’t seem to hate them, he just doesn’t take them very seriously as real people with wants and desires that are different from but equal to the wants and desires of a normal human being, ie a white middle-class intellectual male who likes snooker and Nabokov and is mates with James Fenton.
Amis female characters, the creative process, my best guess: “So, she’s clever. Should I give her great tits? Well, I’ve given the not-as-clever girl great tits; so naturally the cleverer girl should have worse tits. Not bad tits. That would be overdoing it. Maybe just plain good tits? For realism. No. The deep literary move is to give the cleverer girl greater tits, even though she’s not as pretty. Maybe the best tits in the world! Yes! I give her world-beating tits, a degree in moleculologic computing and she wants a baby!! EAT IT BELLOW!!! ”
Faint virtue in this: he doesn’t think women are men in disguise. Problem: not sure he thinks they’re human.
He does try, but there’s also bit of the classic misogynist-lite pattern in there, I think: start off dismissive of women, get to some point later on where you’re praising woman (essentialism!) as the great & pure nurturing principle of the universe, so much better than brutish men, etc, etc, – all the while, of c., not wondering what individual women want, enjoy, etc
The thing is, he often doesn’t seem to understand how complicated, unbasic and sophisticated the desires of men are either. He’s very good on a narrow range of male thought – let’s call it ‘thinking about tits and arses’, tataa, that’s nice – but falls back on it too much, overestimates its place in life.
Now this is sort of a tricky area, because when you say ‘no look rly, that is not what all men think about all the time’, women are justifiably ‘o yes i have heard that 1 before’, and some men are like that all the time and think you are running a number to cock-block them on that blonde (what if I am bud). AND YET I hold to the position that this is but one part of life; Amis is good at playing with it, but the obsession distorts him. Again, we’re looking at a specialist – a strong minor artist (with one masterpiece, Money that he very nearly manages to fuck with metafictional tosh).
So this part of the floorplan just says “Look, I know, agree he’s terrible at women. He’s not that great at men. He does have virtues, but if you want to ignore him, I wouldn’t say you’ll miss out on too much. I find him fascinating, but I don’t take him too seriously.”
I am looking forward to The Pregnant Widow