Can male writers write female characters? Yes, of course. Some of my favourite female characters have been written by men. I have also written countless articles on this subject on this very blog. I also draw attention to some great examples in the B2W free eBook, many of which are written by male writers.
That said, there’s an awful lot of crappy female characters out there. This has lead to an explosion of commentary online about this phenomenon … Which in turn has prompted various panels at literary festivals like THIS ONE.
So why are we talking about this? Let’s put it under the microscope.
Not *All* Male Writers
So, before anyone gets their panties in a bunch … Yes, yes some male writers are GREAT at writing female characters. When male writers dominate the industry this is obvious, the evidence is all around us. I have literally already said this at the beginning of the article.
Some writers think this is about male bashing. They will say ANY gender can be a bad writer. Whilst this is true, they are ignoring the fact there’s a proliferation of bad writing coming from male writers. Obviously female writers can be capable of bad writing too, but their poor writing is much more varied.
Male bad writing about female characters appears as …
- Defining female characters by their breasts or other ‘female-type’ things
- Inserting author’s own thoughts or preconceptions about women
- Lack of research, authenticity and emotional truth
It should also be noted the above can be
- Written by famous and admired male writers
- In books that are celebrated as GOOD examples of their craft, or even prize winners
Here are a few infamous examples, below.
Too Many Female Characters Rate Their Own Attractiveness Constantly
Hey, women should absolutely have great self-esteem. But when female characters think about themselves LIKE THIS, then the male author is inserting his own thoughts . That’s not good characterisation. Simples.
Apparently Breasts Can Roll In Sync With Eyes
Maybe the below is a joke. But given there is SO MUCH BAD DESCRIPTION out there, female readers aren’t getting it and don’t appreciate it. When it’s been proven time and time again women read more than men, remember your target audience, guys!
This Is Just Bad Research
Apparently, the passage below came from Witches of Eastwick by Pulitzer Prize-winning John Updike. The real kicker? Women literally have shorter urethras than men. Now Updike might be a celebrated author (and I love The Witches of Eastwick as a story), but biologically-speaking, what is written below is just nonsense.
So all this ‘not all male writers’ thing is disingenuous bullshit. It’s never been about …
- Calling out *all* male writers
- Saying female writers are automatically better writers or more talented
- Suggesting entire books should be junked on the basis of one bit of description
- Barring jokes and memes, nor has it ever been suggested men SHOULDN’T or CAN’T write female characters as standard
- BY THE WAY … Male sexuality is a not a problem either!!! If men want to write about sexy women, in sexy stories? Why not … Please, be my guest. But remember, CONTEXT, fellas.
The problems are:
- Poor research
- Lack of authenticity and emotional truth
- Silly jokes that don’t appeal to target audiences
- The fetishising of women as objects in stories as standard
- The sheer number of male writers who do this crap, THE SAME WAYS (so lack of variety!)
The above is just not good writing in 2019. Come on, this is basic. We can do better, so let’s do it.
Grab your free B2W eBook, How NOT To Write Female Characters, HERE or by clicking on the pic on the left. Enjoy and don’t fall foul of those female character clangers!