Female Characters and how they are written.

I recently read an article that pretty much summed up a lot of my recent thoughts on men and how they write women. I will link at the bottom of this rant, as well as provide some quotes that really touched base with me.

To those of you that don’t know, I’ve been a part of the online roleplaying community for quite some time. The game I play, The Land of Karchan (http://www.karchan.org), I am actually an admin on right now. I program fun things for the game. Recently, I’ve really had some people strike a nerve with me, specifically, male players that play females.

Let me start off by saying that there is no one specific I have in mind, and these thoughts are just loosely based on behaviors I have observed in these characters.

As a woman, I acknowledge that feeling sexy can make you feel powerful. I’m guilty of making curvaceous women all the time, but part of my problems right now stem from the fact that I do not think a female character in any position has to sleep around to get power, or has to sleep around to be sexy. There are strong women out there that do not need to spread their legs to get places, and part of my issues with male RPers and writers in general that I see far too often, is how trashy they write their women. There is a fine line between being empowered and sexually free and just being a whore! The line is crossed over and over again. The character’s effectiveness in my eyes, greatly dwindles if she is a weak, insecure being that sleeps around. How effective can a female character be if she is only on her back all the time?

Do I read sexual books? Yes, but there has to be a story there or I can’t get into it. Mindless sex in books every other page does not satisfy my mind. I like reading sex scenes/love scenes, I like writing them, but if a novel or storyline or rp is nothing but rampant fornication and everything centers around the pleasures of the flesh, that is a turn off for me. I like depth. I like characters that look like more than what they are. I like to write my females as powerful, sensual, but not riding the line between eroticism and sleaze. There have been times where I have made my characters prudes just to avoid falling into that habit myself.

Quotes from the article and why I thought it was worth reading:

~*~ “You often hear about men who “just can’t do female characters” — for whatever reason, the argument often goes, these female characters don’t ring true. They rely too much on stereotypes, on the bitterness or the idealism of their creators, on how horny the author happened to be while writing the book.”

~*~ “And nowadays, when the question of the gap between genders is pressing and exceptionally fraught, I not-so-humbly urge writers to think through the basics that are not taught by how-to columns on writing. You can write a good thriller by following the advice of the pros, of course, but you can write an even better book if you break out of the givens of life: whichever side of the debate you end up on, whether you think we’re biologically programmed to behave like men and women, or you think we’re all just following codes and behaving as we were taught to behave from a young age, your fiction will surely gain psychological depth if you can think through some of these issues. Otherwise, you could end up being that guy who always writes women characters as if he hasn’t had sex in five years, or you could end up that woman who is quite honestly convinced that all men are bastards and whose male characters are all greedy disappointing bastards. See how I stereotype? Nobody wants to be that guy, that gal. Stereotypes have the power to forge allegiances to characters before we’ve even had a chance to see them doing anything of importance.”

~*~ “Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 made me laugh in despair whenever it was clear that Murakami was converting his sexual frustration into “feminine understanding” — look at this example. Women usually have breasts, so Murakami does this kind of thing all the time — get ready for an onslaught:” (Millions of quotes ensue by this point)

And finally, the actual article: