There has been much discussion taking place because of comments made by Muriel Gray, one of the judges for the Orange Prize. I have basically ignored them but then reading Helen's blog, http://reddersramblings.blogspot.com/, and the comments, it set the old brain cells thinking.
Back in the days when I had a brain - pre children that is- and I was about to head off to Harvard Divinity School for a Masters in Theological Studies, I had a theory that women's writing about God was mostly emotional and could therefore still be felt as much today even though much of what I was studying was written hundreds of years before. However men's religious writing was not emotional but deeply rational and quite frankly left me cold and could be quite dated. I think women's writing is emotional and speaks to heart where men's writing tends to be colder and deal with issues........these are broad sweeping statements but if one looks at the writings of Hadewijch and Teresa of Avila. Their experience of God is deeply emotional and still speaks to women today where as if you look at the words of Augustine or Aquinas it deals with how we should think about God and not how to feel him. The theological concerns have moved on in many cases but how we love God hasn't.
So to tie these ramblings back to women's writing today, I think most women's fiction still deals with emotions be they domestic in setting or global whereas 'men's' fiction tends to separate the emotion from the actions of saving the world or solving a crime. I know which I would prefer to read and that my dh wouldn't touch most of it.......I also know I am going to take some stick for these comments and before it starts I do read fiction read by men. One of my all time favorite books is Any Human Heart by William Boyd (Restless is on my tbr pile because I want to see how he deals with a woman's point of view) ....but that book also showed me how men's minds work which is very different from women's.........Basically women shine most when they are working with emotions and potentially helping other women in my opinion.