It is difficult to detect much individual bias in the work of Murasaki Shikibu, but this is at least partly because The Tale of Genji has become the standard source for the attitudes of the Heian court. The collective biases of the Kyoto aristocracy at the beginning of the eleventh century seem to be depicted in the novel. One common ground for debate is how far the bias in the narrative is explicitly feminine. In this sense, two of the most prominent aspects of the novel appear to run counter to each other.
The Tale of Genji has been compared to the novels of Jane Austen in the way that it focuses exclusively on the domestic sphere. Elsewhere, politics and warfare are presumably occurring, but the novel focuses on poetry, art, clothes, gardens, and gossip. Although the hero is a prince and a public figure, it is his private life and his relations with women that are the subject.
This bias towards the domestic and the traditionally feminine spheres of influence, however, is accompanied by what seems like an aggressively masculine bias towards violence and coercion in the sexual sphere. Genji is presented as something close to the ideal man, but it is taken for granted that he will rape any woman he wants to and that rape and deceit are the bases on which men build their relationships with women. This bias towards masculine aggression seems all the more shocking because of the sophisticated and luxurious background against which it takes place.