Even the most well written ones always have at least some kind of subtle sexism planted in them i find.

Even the most well written ones always have at least *some* kind of subtle sexism planted in them i find.


It took me a long, long time to figure out why I despised some female characters. I always thought it was internalised misogyny and that I simply had to try harder.

Not the reason.

It was simply because they were written by men. All the stupid ass tropes of not being like the other girls, jealousy, bullshit and whatnot they associate with women.

Usually you have one female character among a sea of male ones. Then suddenly all our expectations are on a single character. That's why movies like mad max fury Road worked so well in comparison, different women were allowed different characters. The pressure wasn't on one single female character. Suddenly they could experiment with different characters and motives.

Love female characters in books of good writers or female coordinated shows. They're much more fleshed out and are allowed weaknesses, since they don't have to hold up the entire franchises alone. There's usually also more than just one, which does help.

The Smurfette Principle! In a huge group of distinct male characters, only one Girl is allowed. Her character trait? Girl.

I've never heard of that before, I'll look it up. I might have a smurfphobia after smurf in hand.

Pretty much, yes.

It just keeps going, despite many successful shows and movies proving otherwise.

It was really common in the 80s. They tried to make it “better” later by allowing TWO Girls. One to be the Girly Girl, and the other to be the tomboy Cool Girl.

I had the exact same realization!

Also i like shows with women leads, they're just more wholesome like parks and rec

Yes! Realizing that I actually loved well written women, past two dimensions, was so incredibly eye opening.

Motherland is one of those examples maybe. Just the love and tenderness despite differences. The understanding despite flaws. Womanhood cherished instead of demonised or perverted.

I don’t read books by male authors because (aside from the fact I find women to be better writers in general) I think men write extremely poor female characters.

This is generally speaking of course but I read A LOT and always have...I find almost every single male author fails when it comes to writing believable female characters. It’s all too male gazey for me so I’ve given up on male authors entirely 🤷🏻‍♀️ Don’t miss em tbh.

Even if the male author is ok, he always betrays his male pov if there’s a sex scene. I don’t like sex scenes in general but yeah, males write especially gross and cringey ones with pornified language. And just the situations are all huh?? Like his realistic female character who he’s spent exploring the past X chapters will suddenly pick up some rando at a rest stop, will slam bam him on a motel bed while having multiple orgasms with no foreplay. To show how messed up she is, or how modern and liberated and sex positive she is. It’s happened more than once and it’s jarring.

What do you think of Tiffany Aching and Granny Weatherwax?

(I know Sir Terry Pratchett has been posthumously made a transgender advocate by Neil Gaiman… but I don’t agree!)

The sooner Neil Gaiman shuts the hell up about what he doesn't know, the happier we'll all be. According to him ancient Greek epic isn't Greek either.

Seeing his book monstrous regiment, he had a clear grasp on the difference of biological sex and "gender".

Grand books though. They helped me personally get over some issues with womanhood.

Especially Tiffany Aching and his witches, to clarify.

Always felt to damn wrong in my own body and there this old ass man comes along and tells you soothingly: you're fine the way you are, we're all a bit off anyway. Open your eyes. Take responsibility for your actions and the people you want to protect around you. Pay attention to nature and the people who can only whisper for help. Be a better person than what you were born into, be smart and pay attention. Listen. Listen. Listen. Reflect on it. Take it to heart. Be ready to let go of things you can't change, but be ready to face the ones you do.

Open your eyes. Then open your eyes again.

"Once we were blobs in the sea, and then fishes, and then lizards and rats and then monkeys, and hundreds of things in between. This hand was once a fin, this hand once had claws! In my human mouth I have the pointy teeth of a wolf and the chisel teeth of a rabbit and the grinding teeth of a cow! Our blood is as salty as the sea we used to live in! When we're frightened, the hair on our skin stands up, just like it did when we had fur. We are history! Everything we've ever been on the way to becoming us, we still are. [...]

I'm made up of the memories of my parents and my grandparents, all my ancestors. They're in the way I look, in the colour of my hair. And I'm made up of everyone I've ever met who's changed the way I think."

[–] intervention 7 points Edited

I love the witches of Discworld, the witches' novels are my all-time favourite books of the series (so much that I'm saving up for the collector's edition for Christmas).

Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg all are rode models for certain aspects of my life, and I feel some kinship with Magrat during her clumsier phases ahem.

And I wish the Tiffany books had already been around when I was a girl. She's someone I would have wanted to be friends with.

Edit: fixed typo.

I think Pratchett's characters are so good because they're realistic.

Granny Weatherwax is very conservative about what women ought to wear, but doesn't really act in misogynist ways, while Nanny is very permissive when it comes to clothes, but exploits and oppresses her daughters in law horribly ...

But I never got the impression that Pratchett approved of that - he just described behaviours of older women he probably observed in real life.

I think that's the way for a man to write good female characters: Describe the women he sees in real life, not invent women who are like he would want them to be.

Ah I have never really read Pratchett tbh (I read 2 of his books when I was a lot younger but can’t really remember much as I used to read multiple books at once 😅), I’m not much of a fantasy reader tbh, prefer mystery, domestic noir, psychological thriller and horror. Are they good characters? Would you recommend Pratchett?

Never put much stock in Gaiman anyway, think his writing is entirely mediocre 🤷🏻‍♀️ One of the male writers I did appreciate was Khaled Hosseini but he spouted a load of trans bs lately and I’ve lost any respect I had 😕

My favourite authors are Helen Oyeyemi, Lionel Shriver, Shirley Jackson, Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie and Sophie Hannah.

Who are yours? I’m always looking for recommendations!

Pratchett is a marvel. He looks at everything askew, and I love it. Highly recommend.

Yes. I would very much recommend Terry pratchett. Especially the Tiffany aching series.

Monstrous regiment, I think I mentioned, it doesn't need any knowledge of the verse as it's written from a different countries perspective. It's about a young woman joining the military instead of her brother, while lying about her biological sex. While the premise might sound lacking right now, I'd ask you to trust me. I don't want to spoil the book.

It's very female centric though, and truly got me into reading him again.

There's just something about pratchett.

Your favorite authors list reminded me of the book "Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction." I added way too many books to my to-be-read pile because of that book.

Obviously, the answer depends on the man and the content he produces.

One example that comes to mind of a man who writes good female characters is comic book writer Terry Moore. When I first read an issue of Strangers In Paradise as a teenager, I assumed Terry Moore was a woman and I was shocked when I found out he was a man.

I told him this when I met him at Comic Con. He thought it was a lovely compliment. 🤣

I don't know his writing. But there are exceptions. Terry Pratchett is mentioned elsewhere here as another example. They can still be exceptions that prove the rule.

As a lesbian I read his books and could tell he was a man straight away... the women he writes are really heterosexual and I never got why they never ended up together

In books, occasionally. There are sympathetic male authors who are relatively fearless in writing what they see.

Movies, on the other hand? Hollywood is a very sexist, toxic place, and I don't expect anything from them. Cinema from elsewhere has a chance, but I never hold my breath.

For the most part no, but I will say I did not realize the author of The Stepford Wives was a man until after I read it and went to look him up. Still shocked a man managed to write that

I’ve watched the movie (1970s one, not the remake/reboot/re-whatever). I liked it. There’s even an attempted consciousness-raising meeting scene which, when I learned what consciousness-raising was and how it was supposed to go, became even more unnerving (which was the intent).

Is there much of a difference between the book and movie that I should give it a read? The main difference I know of is that in the movie the Stepford wives were dressed in 1950s-housewife style outfits, while in the book they were dressed in sexy/revealing clothing

Honestly I haven’t seen the movie, I didn’t notice this was posted in the movie circle until after I’d commented and figured I’d leave it since it has a movie lol.

The books pretty short though, less than 150 pages. I think it’s worth a library read if anything. The shock from the level of awareness of women’s lives and the terrible roles men play in them coming from this male author still hasn’t worn off and I’m not sure it ever will

I went and read the book! And it was good! And there were differences from the movie, and yet—neither has been diminished in my sight. Both are good

For myself, I don't think a blanket rule is ever good. I think every book deserves a chance to be judged on its own merit. My claim that say women writing men, or women writing anything for that matter, deserves a chance to be judge on their own merit, is only credible if my claim is applied fairly to every writer.

Sure, I can think of some examples yes to answer your question, but I don't feel like spending time defending men on this site.

Unfortunately no, especially considering that the poster child for "man who writes female characters well", Joss Whedon, turned out to be just as toxic as the rest.

I mean....even if Whedon hed been a Saint in his personal life instead of a creep, his female characters were still badly written. I personally never understood how he got the reputation of being some master of writing good female characters. Every Whedon production I've seen is just a mess of quips and 90 pound waif girls somehow managing to punch out 300 pound dudes. Not to mention his horrible take on prostitution in Firefly.

I NEVER liked Whedons female characters, even back in the 00s when everyone was praising them as feminist. I thought I was missing something at the time. Perhaps they had a dash more realism and intelligence, but that wasn’t hard to do considering how abysmal most female characters were written before. But ultimately they seemed like just modernized male fantasies: the quirky quippy cool girl, the waif-fu psychic, the hooker with a heart of gold, the “team mom”, the sassy manic pixie dream girl. All conventionally attractive of course, and endlessly tolerant of the male characters’ assholery (like Mal).

I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one. LOL

I ran in nerd circles in my teens and 20s. And it baffled me that Whedon was treated like a literal GOD of feminist character writing when so many other writers (both male & female) were leagues better than him at it. Not to mention how his fetishes were on full display in most of his shit (ie the foot thing and every female character being a variation of the same Cool Girl archetype)

BTW, Have you ever read his rejected Wonder Woman movie script. Holy shit, it was terrible!

I liked some of his characters. Zoey and Kaylee were great, they felt real. The waif fu trope definitely gets old though, he leans on it pretty heavily in Dollhouse too.

Zoey and Kaylee were great.

Don't get me started on Inara, though....><

Came here to say this, lmao.

It's so funny to see his mask coming off in real time. No one can deny what he is now.

Nope. They are always spurred on by male motivation, not female motivation.

Yes! This is what I struggled to put a finger on. There are series and books that I have loved, but something was just "wrong" about the female characters, and I didn't know how to describe it. And these were books with more developed female characters, but there was still something off. This is it.

Yeah, I've noticed many female characters written by men are lacking. For example, Villanelle and Eve in Killing Eve are wonderful characters that I don't think a man could have written. I read the books written by a man and they didn't have that je ne sais quoi they had in the series.

They are either one-dimensional or feel like a 'strong woman one of the boys' or they're plain written as objects

Sometimes they’re good. It’s true that there will most likely be some sort of subtle sexism if you look, but there’s also typically some subtle sexism in female characters written by women, so I don’t count that as an automatic disqualified. And unfortunately women in the real world also very often have some internalized misogyny to overcome. (I mean, we live in a patriarchy. While we can overcome internalized misogyny, few women and girls will avoid it altogether).

Sometimes female characters are deeper than the writer intended; I’ll find ways in which these characters are more real than the writer intended

It really depends.

In movies, I feel it's pretty hit or miss because it just ends up being whether or not I like the female character or can root for her. I feel like you have to see a film multiple times to pick up on subtleties of the writing but I will say the woman in refrigerators trope gets on my last nerve. Half the female characters you get excited about have to die to give someone motivation?

This is moreso books I'm going to refet to but... Female characters that have bothered me written by men - the girls in murakami's Norwegian Wood, Midori especially. I know that Midori and Naoko are ultimately symbols. I won't spoil it for you since it's the saddest book I've ever read but the only female character in that book who felt lifelike was the older woman, can't remember her name. Naoko is definitely more human to me than Midori though. I can't remember it too well because I was a teenager, teenage me thought Midori was the better written character but adult me does not agree looking back. Abrasiveness feels like a way to cover when you don't know how to make a female character respond in a complex way.

Female character i found written well? Kazuko in Dazai's the Setting Sun. Read it this year. Perhaps you can argue misogyny in the facr her life ultimately boils down to the pursuit of motherhood, but the book is first-person, and Kazuko has such dimensional thoughts. She loses herself and finds herself all at once.

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