Writing Women: A Virtual Panel Discussion

“Lately, I’ve been thinking about craft and how storytelling relates to social and cultural norms and values. One thing that both amuses and troubles me is the idea that when a story is told from the male perspective, it’s considered universal, yet when a story is told from a female perspective, it’s somehow particular to women, or must fit into a defined category – commercial, literary, etc. and marginalized or examined with scrutiny… and yet, women are presumed by publishers to be the majority of book consumers in the United States. One only has to look back to the outcry over the National Book Awards just two years ago for a perfect example, or more recently, to the conversation around the 2005 round-up of people’s favorite books — how few works by women or featuring female principal characters appeared on lists compared to the usual fare.”

I’m ready for the panel that’s all about the “troubles” of writing from a “male perspective,” myself. After all, writing about men is writing about people. Writing about women is writing about “the feminine perspective.”

Can we stop that kind of men=people women=Other thinking, please? It gets old.

I was a little put off by one author’s view – “I would say there’s an invitation to the reader (or audience) – an open seduction – that is not the same with a male character.”

So all women vibe seduction, but men can’t be sexy? I suppose if you assume a male audience, you’ve got a Fear of Homophobia (cause women being bi is OK, but men lusting the cock is not) if you say male characters seduce. I’d go so far as to say that every great character in fiction is, in some way, sexy. They seduce. That’s why you keep reading about them, no matter the sex.

And then there’s this comment: “I also write from the male point of view. I do find a difference between the two perspectives. There is often something softer about the women’s perspective; the men can be more connected to the world, less to family in my fiction.”

At least she qualified that with, “In my fiction.”

There are some interesting observations, however, particularly when they contradict what they just said three paragraphs up with actual experiences.

Gee, I miss Wiscon.

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