How to Write Women?

Some trashy author came up with the following pearl of wisdom that idiots at pseudo-feminist websites are swooning over:

The female experience is different from that of the male, and if, as a male writer, you cannot accept that basic premise, then you will never, ever, be able to write women well.

Of course, anybody who believes in a uniform “female / male experience” that all people with a certain kind of reproductive system have irrespective of their race, class, language, culture, age, sexual orientation, religion, country of origin, etc. is an arrant fool.

Do people really not see that generalizing about the supposedly shared experience of billions of human beings just on the basis of how their genitals are shaped is an act that is profoundly ridiculous in nature?

34 thoughts on “How to Write Women?

  1. Well, just before that he says “Gender isn’t simply a biological trait; it’s a societal one,” which I think represents his main point better than the quote.

    You were just writing in a very general sense about how society treats men and women in Ukraine vs. the U.S. on the Self-Esteem Gradations thread, and I got the impression you saw those gendered experiences as fairly uniform within these two cultures, even if there are big differences between them. Is that really so different than what Mr. Rucka was writing?

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    1. I think there is definitely a huge difference between ALL women and “women in my culture, my generation, my social class, my geographic area.” He, however, is talking about all women at any time anywhere in the history of humanity. Or that’s how I read the statement because it wasn’t qualified in any way.

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      1. I definitely would have worded it differently than he did, but I also don’t think it means he doesn’t take those things into consideration when writing.
        In the one comic book of his that I’ve read, I did think the female character who was its focus was much more nuanced than female characters in other mainstream superhero comics, (not there is much competition), and there was a lot of focus on her upbringing and cultural background.

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        1. My problem is that there are still people who invest the word “women” with all kinds of meanings. On a side note, it somehow always happens that I and my way of being are the exact opposite of every one of these meanings. I don’t fit the definition of womanhood either in my culture or in North America. And that feels annoying.

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  2. I’m not so sure about general character writing, but certainly you won’t get feminist sympathies if you don’t adopt the role of someone who suffers powerlessly. If you fight back against misogynist injustice, even feminists will deem you to be a bit crazy. Women don’t do that don’t you know? Only men fight.

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      1. Above all, we lose our moral status if we demonstrate human emotions such as anger. I mean even feminists feel that we ought to retain an identity that is superior to males, by having only positive and pro-social emotions.

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  3. Do people really not see that generalizing about the supposedly shared experience of billions of human beings just on the basis of how their genitals are shaped is an act that is profoundly ridiculous in nature?(Clarissa)

    She probably bases her ideas on the general theory of the Patriarchy. Afterall, it is generally all encompassing regardless of how ridiculous it may seem. 😉

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      1. Australian patriarchy is different from American patriarchy is different from Zimbabwean patriarchy, though, and it IS possible to generalize. There are also similarities and overlaps. But, I think the cultural differences I’ve spied over the years include the fact that American culture encourages a sense that gender involves totally different categories of identity — male and female — whereas Australian cultures encourages rather more the notion that women are shameful when they are too direct or loud. Zimbabwean patriarchy has the view that women are silly and their intellects are unsound. This comes from Biblical notions that Eve was deceived by a snake. So many patriarchal Zimbabwean men adopt a diminutive version of my name and — although we haven’t met in any sense — act as if they know me through and through. I ban them of course, because I don’t want to be deceived by any snakes.

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      2. Considering how Non gender neutral the term patriarchy is Im amazed that you would continue to use it, instead of finding a more appropriate term to describe the all encompassing oppressive system you so eloquently described earlier. 😦

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      3. It’s patriarchy because it’s a system designed to assure the rule of society by males, as remains evident by the fact that politically we remain ruled by males, along with traditional values that elevate the male as being more rational, intellectual and spiritual than the female.

        You really have to hold two things in your head at once: one, that there is a system that discriminates on the basis of gender, and two, that dividing people up in terms of a very deep division of labor, will do damage to the wholeness of people of both sexes.

        But the origins of patriarchy was to set up a system that would assure the father (patriarch) that he would have biological children and property that could be passed through the male heir.

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      4. @muster

        And herein lies one reason why it is(and will continue) to be a gender struggle. Until people see that it is people that create your so called system and not just the male gender then we will continue to create discord. The problem with your idea is that it lumps ALL men into the same camp even if that is not your direct intention. Considering all the main leaders in my immediate family were women I take umbrage with your world view.

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      5. “The problem with your idea is that it lumps ALL men into the same camp even if that is not your direct intention.”

        I don’t think that is the case at all. The point is to get away from essentializing identities, which is a metaphysical way of thinking. Your objection sounds to me quite a lot like saying that if we admit that Vesuvius ever erupted, me make an enemy of all volcanoes and become part of a cult that is obsessed with putting them out. The one doesn’t follow from the other.

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      6. My point is if BOTH genders are now partaking in a system that supposedly originated from one gender, it presently has now morphed. So, to continue to use a singular gendered term to describe it does not match with the reality of its present incarnation. Not only that but it is technically sexist to do so. On top of that you indirectly(or directly) alienate a segment of the population that is vital in getting rid of this power based system. I believe a woman has attempted to use a more appropriate term to describe these power imbalances. Kyriarchy.

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        1. “My point is if BOTH genders are now partaking in a system that supposedly originated from one gender, it presently has now morphed. ”

          – Obviously, both genders participate in this system. How else could it exist?

          “So, to continue to use a singular gendered term to describe it does not match with the reality of its present incarnation. Not only that but it is technically sexist to do so.”

          – Do the absolute majority of married women take on their husbands’ names or vice versa? Do the absolute majority of children of married parents carry their mother’s or their father’s name? Are the absolute majority of purchased kept spouses women or men? My terminology reflects this objective reality. The moment the reality stops existing, I will change the terminology.

          ” I believe a woman has attempted to use a more appropriate term to describe these power imbalances. Kyriarchy.”

          – Once again, I don’t see the reason to change the terminology until the reality has changed. If this isn’t the patriarchy, then why did I get so many irate hysterics visit my blog insisting on the supposedly huge importance of everybody in the family carrying the Name of the Father?

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      7. “On top of that you indirectly(or directly) alienate a segment of the population that is vital in getting rid of this power based system.”

        I believe in speaking directly to people about important issues. I have found that people typically try to undermine, avoid and deflect direct speech. The issue doesn’t seem to be the terminology. Use any old term. They will object to the term, “kyriarchy”, as well, calling it elitist and obscure. When people don’t want to hear what you have to say, they will continue to generate objections. These will appear to be in terms of the FORM of what you have to say, but they will actually be offended by the content.

        If people are alienated, I don’t think it is my job to ‘unalienate” them. I talk normally, as one human being to another. If they don’t like my terminology, they can ask what it means, and I will tell them exactly as I have stated here that patriarchy is a system designed to assure that biological offspring inherit the father’s property. It also has the indirect effect of dividing the human soul into two parts, so that neither male or female is complete. So it produces dissatisfaction. If people can’t understand that, then I suggest that they could, possibly, boil their heads. I mean, I don’t care. There is a lot of chaos, madness, and disaster in the world. That is the name of human experience and human history. Some people find a measure of redemption from it and others don’t. I’m no Jesus-Christ-Your-Personal-Savior.

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      8. You have made yourself completely clear. Considering I have no father technically it will be the matriarch passing on the property to all her children. I see there is no more reason to discuss the term you use and how I and others find it offensive and not factually correct.

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        1. ” Considering I have no father technically it will be the matriarch passing on the property to all her children”

          – Whose last name do you have? Your mother’s or your father’s? How about your mother?

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      9. My father. When you have children what last name will you use? If you have more than one will you use a different one for each. Will you hyphenate? When they have children will they hyphenate the hyphenated name? Round and round we go.

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        1. “When you have children what last name will you use? I”

          – We have agreed to continue the family tradition and give boys the father’s last name and girls the mother’s last name. Another possibility is a coin toss. 🙂

          “When they have children will they hyphenate the hyphenated name”

          – That, of course, will be their own decision. Hopefully, by that time, the automatic and patriarchal assignment of the father’s last name to a child will be outdated and will only make people laugh.

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      10. By the way when my father died at 37 my 31 yr. old mother with 3 children decided to keep my father’s name as her own, even after she obtained her MSW. 🙂

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        1. “By the way when my father died at 37 my 31 yr. old mother with 3 children decided to keep my father’s name as her own, even after she obtained her MSW.”

          – I rest my case.

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        1. “I rest mine too, she decided.”

          – This “decision” of women to mark themselves as male belonging is the definition of the patriarchy. So what are we arguing about? The second as many men start gleefully announcing themselves as belonging to women, I will abandon the term. That hasn’t happened yet, though.

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      11. Hopefully, by that time, the automatic and patriarchal assignment of the father’s last name to a child will be outdated and will only make people laugh.(Clarissa)

        Dont hold your breath, for some its family tradition. 😉

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  4. At first I thought you disagreed with those feminists that were swooning over the quote (although now I realize I have no idea what swooning is; googled it). In the comments you seem to align with them more. But by counting all the men that are swooning over the quote, don’t you exactly prove the quote to be right? And aren’t all women in all times and all places not different from the men that lived in the same times and places? For a great part, isn’t writing literature about empathy for characters that you want to accurately describe as a result of their upbringing, their character traits and their social context? Doesn’t social context and upbringing differ in how people think differently?

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    1. “And aren’t all women in all times and all places not different from the men that lived in the same times and places”

      – A white slaweowning highly educated 30-year-old woman in the American South before the Civil War will have a lot more in common with a white slave-owning man than with an enslaved 60-yer-old woman. I have a lot more in common with my male friend who went to the same grad school than I did and is also a multi-lingual immigrant with Jewish roots than with a 70-year-old woman from China or from, say, Siberia.

      “Doesn’t social context and upbringing differ in how people think differently”

      – That’s exactly what I’m saying. I, as a woman, was brought up to be domineering, brash and loud, while my husband, as a man was brought up to be gentle, sensitive, kind and nurturing. At the same time, there are huge numbers of people who were brought up in the exact opposite way because in their culture and social class, the vision of gender roles is different.

      We cannot forget race, class, age, language, etc. whenever we want to generalize.

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  5. This “decision” of women to mark themselves as male belonging is the definition of the patriarchy(Clarissa)

    YOUR definition. I have talked with my mother about HER decision and it is definately not for any of the reasons you think. Be a feminist and honour my mothers choice, afterall, in the past she would not have had it.

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    1. “YOUR definition.”

      – ??? Read a single book on the subject and you’ll see that you give me way too much credit.

      You do know how I feel about “choice feminism” and “honoring choices”, right?

      You also have got to know what I think about “this was her own decision”.

      It’s like I blog and blog but nothing ever registers. I don’t know what else I need to write to make people understand that the argument about the sanctity of absolutely any choice whatsoever does not convince me. I’ve made a gazillion of idiotic decisions and choices – as has everybody else – but I don;t expect anybody to worship me for making them.

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  6. Experiences of puberty and of developing sexuality are different in specific ways, according to the anatomic / physiologic sex. And even these physiological events are experienced differently in different cultures. If these issues are brought up in fiction by the opposite gender, then a bit of imagination and “research” (reading) is in order.

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