I often find it difficult to get into a female frame of mind, and I would bet that the trouble goes the other way as well. I found a book that deals with this, but is not clinical. In fact, it is hysterically funny so far. Self-made Man by Norah Vincent. Every woman should read it. Most men will get a kick out of it.

Here's a little sample about bowling: "I was surrounded by men who had cement dust in their hair and sawdust under their fingernails. They had nicotine-sallowed faces that looked like ritual masks, and their hands were as tough and scarred as falcon gloves. These were men who, as one of them told me later, had been shoveling shit their whole lives."

Or this about girls tennis camp: "Their parents had sent them there to get rid of them. They just stood around most of the time posing for one another, showing off their tans... As for posing, I looked like I'd been raised by wolverines."

This is one book you will never lend to anyone.

Views: 66

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Funny! I take it you imply that this woman could not write believably from a male point of view. No, I don't really want to read it. The best way to prepare for writing from a male point of view is to read lots of books by men. Watching them also helps.

Of course, men are all very different. And so are female authors. :)
I heard about this book, and was never really interested in reading it.

There are a lot of women who write from male points of view. Considering the fact that most of the reading material available for centuries was penned by men, it's probably not as difficult for a woman to get into a man's frame of mind storywise. We're used to seeing it. We're also used to being more intuitive in our relationships with men, because especially in western cultures, men don't talk about their thoughts and feelings, and it's up to us to figure out what's going on in you guys' heads.

Also culturally, there's a very long-standing male tendency to view women's contributions to be of less importance and value than men's, and to view all fiction written by women to be potential minefields of soppy romantic nonsense. Not all of us write romance. Not all of us are interested in reading it, either.
Well, there is something to this "Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus" bit. The priorities are very different. Women are very relationship-focused. Men focus more on personal achievement.
I'm reading Michael Robotham's NIGHT FERRY, where the protagonist is an Asian woman police officer. It is extremely well done and absolutely believable ( though I'm not sure that past tense wouldn't have been better). In my car I'm listening to Ruth Rendell's latest Wexford mystery. And she does an excellent job with the male Chief Inspector Wexford.
So it can be done, provided the author can put him/herself into the other gender's mindset and care about characterization. It is notable though that in both cases the professional priorities are foremost in the novel.
LOL! Something like that.
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA was pretty much based on facts (research and interviews). I wasn't terribly impressed with it. The fate of the modern geisha, especially of the geisha in war and post-war times, is by definition emotional and moving. Her fate appeals to women. I did not get a particular sense of the woman protagonist, but rather of a composite of many women.

Professional women certainly have taken on some of the male characteristics. :) I don't mean that in a pejorative sense. But generally speaking, the psychological make-up of women will always be different from that of men. I didn't read Gray's book but listened to a bit of an interview once. I think my take on him is that he simply took a stand on this and popularized the notion. Other writers (D.H.Lawrence for example) have recognized the same thing.
I was going to respond and say there's not much difference between men and women because we all have hopes, dreams, goals, quirks, and habits.

But then I read lj parker's comment (from Men are from Mars?) that women focus on relationships and men on personal acheivments... heh, I guess that makes me a man with boobs. I couldn't give a fig about relationships while personal achievements rule my life.

But this really does just reinforce my belief that if a character is made into a full human being, with consistancy, emotion, and reason for being who they are (I was daddy's girl and raised with three brothers, maybe that contributed to me being unladylike. ;-) then that character will be realistic, regardless of what gender. Even taking the idea that, for example, women are more relationship focused (in general) should be expanded upon-- which relationships matter most to her, how does she feel if one goes awry, etc. Make the personal whole, inside and out, and I think it works.
Boy I agree with you 100% Clair. I have absolutely no interest in having children and often look at members of both sexes with a "Wow. S/he is so beautiful. I'm going to try real hard, and if I succeed, boy is that going to feel sooo good, so sweet," sort of mentality or even just a purely visual enjoyment that has nothing to do with any actual or imagined contact with said individual. I'm also much more interested in personal achievement than relationships.

That being said, I've personally never had a hard time writing about people who are different than me, be they male or female. I think it's a mistake for writers to view Mars/Venus cliches as set in stone, because it makes for awfully dull characters. I think the times I am most annoyed and pulled out of the story are when a writer of one gender goes overboard with stereotypical cliches when describing the other. We all exist somewhere on a continuum between traits that are traditionally viewed as male and those viewed as more female. Gray almost always makes for better fiction than pure black or white.
Slow down, Captain Parker. I meant no offense. I just find the book mind expanding. Let me elaborate:

Women should read it because it is written by a woman who infiltrated manworld and I appreciate what she saw and how she talks about it. I don't know of any other woman who has done that. Not the way she did, anyway. One might find it insightful. She gets so much of what men are all about without going into multiple volumes or making men into a short list of stereotypes.

Men should read it because it is fun to read someone from the other team describe us so well when it seems that often not even those women closest to us – say, our wives – get it. She is critical without being critical. She is compassionate without being sappy. And because it might help men understand where women might be coming from when we interact with them.

Oh, and Clair, I understand how you feel because I'm just a boob with a knob.
Sorry, Chip. I misunderstood your point -- being unfamiliar with the book.
For writers to make sure they're portraying the opposite sex realistically, there's nothing like having critique partners of the opposite sex. I've had male critique group members tell me "a man would never say/do that" and we female members have said, "a woman would never say/do that". So, we both help each other understand the insides of the "better half"!


CrimeSpace Google Search

© 2024   Created by Daniel Hatadi.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service