#dichterdran | Women Show Literary Men How It Feels

In response to condescending treatment of an award-winning young novelist, many take to twitter to turn the tables and reveal sexist attitudes that often pass unremarked.

It all started with one tweet by the Swiss writer Nadia Brügger. In it, she angrily quotes a book review about Sally Rooney by Martin Ebel in the Tagesanzeiger, a Swiss daily, accusing the outlet of sexualizing the best-selling author.

As evidence, she cited the following: “Leading newspapers dedicated extensive tributes to the newcomer, illustrated with promising photos. In the New Yorker, the author looks like a scared deer with full lips.”

“Such reviews… are so embarrassing that I don’t want to get upset about it but I have to,” Brügger wrote. “Can I please write one next time, @tagesanzeiger, but without unnecessarily sexualizing the author and patronizing her performance like a grandfather?”

Many people on Twitter agreed with her. Within a short time a hashtag with the name “#dichterdran” (poet’s turn) was flying around the internet, with cynical and satirical tweets that made fun of the original review.

#dichterdran – Here are some of the best ones:

“Oh, you write men’s novels? Well, my husband devours your books! [Of course] I don’t read anything like that. #dichterdran”

“In principle, men’s literature has a right to exist, since it also depicts a certain zeitgeist. For its inclusion in the canon, however, it lacks any reference to the general human condition. #dichterdran”

“The works of male authors such as Goethe, Schiller and Lessing also have their place on school curricula. But they should not be given exaggerated emphasis, as there is a danger that such “boys topics” will deter schoolgirls from reading. #dichterdran”

“Jean-Paul Sartre could never intellectually step out of the shadow of Simone de Beauvoir. This was the tragedy of his existence. #dichterdran”

“You look great for your age, Chapeau! Tell us about your three must-have body care products, Frank Schätzing? #dichterdran”

“While the impressive Katja Mann successfully ran her father’s factories, husband Thomas lovingly looked after the children. He also wrote books. #dichterdran”


A number of media picked up the story, including German news outlets like “ze.tt,” as well as The New York Times.

According to the people who started the hashtag, the tweets are intended to show how often female writers are reduced to their gender, appearance or the success of their husbands. Whatever else she is, Sally Rooney is a highly respected writer. Her debut Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2017. In November 2018, the book won “Irish Novel of the Year” at the Irish Book Awards and was also named Waterstones’ Book of the Year for 2018. In January 2019, it won the Costa Book Award for the Novel category. It was longlisted for the 2019 Dylan Thomas Prize and the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Some of the Twitter users observed that they had in fact not noticed the sexist tone at all and suggested that after this, they might see things differently.

Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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