Irina and I had a good exchange regarding this topic on my previous post. Check out this awesome continuation she posted on her blog.
I think my thoughts on the issue have changed some over the past couple years. This is probably in large part because most of the favorite characters I have written (as a male author) have been women and girls. And I tend to like female characters more in fiction (who knows, maybe this very issue causes people to be more conscious about how they write and create female leads). Of course men can write deep women characters and vice versa. And any hack writer can write shallow characters of any gender.
But I do think there are some things that are inherently foreign from one side to the other, and at a minimum, require a good amount of research before publication. I wouldn’t write a story about a Korean character (I’m pretty white as far as the ethnic spectrum goes) without having a whole lot of either experience or research (I’ve lived in Korea for 11+ years and did my master’s thesis on Korean political history). Women are the same way for me. There are some things I feel confident about because either they should be human universal traits, or because I have enough experience in my relationships to tease them out. But there are plenty of things I wouldn’t try to guess at. Morning sickness, or just the experience of being pregnant. Or the experience of dealing with the heavier burdens of living in a patriarchy. In the end though, I think seeking to understand these differences in perspective makes us better authors, and better people.
Great post, by the way! 😀
There’s a topic that has been nagging me for quite a while, demanding attention and asking that my opinion on it be shared with the world. My usual response has been “Shut up and go sit in the corner, you’re too politicised as it is” but a recent chat with a fellow writer sort of convinced me it was possible to write about it without enraging armies or even your discussion partner. The nagging topic is about men writing female characters and, gasp, women writing male characters.
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