So, lately I’ve read a few books by male writers that have had prominent female characters. Take the Luna Brothers, for example, who write female characters specifically because women are underrepresented in the comic book/graphic novel industry. Having nuanced portrayals of women written by both genders is a good thing. However, writing the opposite gender is difficult (as I discover again and again when I write male characters), and continual growth is necessary as a writer. With that in mind, I’ve identified some trends in males writing females that I would like for all male writers to give up as their New Year’s resolution.
1.) A female character who needs some dick.
This one might initially come off as a little prudish, but bear with me here. I have no problem with sexually liberated women– women who enjoy sex and cast off the slut/whore social stigma or battle with the slut/whore stigma. I understand guys watching Sex and the City and thinking women want more of the Samantha character. I mean, maybe these women could be sexually liberated and NOT feel obligated to wear their sexuality like a scarf. I get it, though– it’s a personality type. But you know what I am really tired of? Women who simply want more dick. They WANT dick, they NEED dick. And often this doesn’t mean sex– it means blow jobs. These women get everything they want out of just chowing down on some dude’s dangling bits. Nothing in return. They are completely sexually satisfied with giving head.
All these women want is to GIVE. You can see how this might be problematic, right?
Or, there was the “this hot minor needs to endlessly grind on your shaft in a completely non-sexual way, of course, and you are paralyzed so oh no, you can’t stop it” plot point in 1Q84.
If you’re going to create a woman obsessed with sex, why not create one that wants to be eaten out all day long? Because that’s not sexy to you? Think about it.
2.) A lesbian experience
Yes, yes, I know, two women together is hot. And I’m sure you are definitely going to write a tasteful lesbian experience. Maybe, just this once, don’t.
3.) Any of the following: women thinking about each others’ breasts, women engaging in sexy pillow fights, women giving each other “breast exams.”
Guys. Seriously. Stop.
4.) A very young manic pixie dream girl variation
You lose extra points if you try to imply her manic pixie-ness is somehow “wise.”
Here are some things I’ve seen that I applaud and would like to see more of:
1.) Racial, bi-racial, or otherwise non-white female protagonists.
2.) Female dialogue that passes the Bechdel test.
3.) Women who do not simply want to be saved.
4.) Women who have flaws and/or are described in terms beyond their physical attributes.
On a related note, I am curious if there is a corresponding problem when women write men. Do they become too feminine? Too much like bro-guy caricatures? Food for thought.