Women Imagining How Men Would Describe Them In A Book Speaks To Real Sexism In Literature

“Never not thinking about my enormo honkers.”

We're not saying male writers can't write female characters — there are multitudes of examples that they certainly are able to — but there is always room for improvement.


Author and artist Gwen C. Katz recently tweeted about an unnamed writer who "is insisting that he is living proof that it's possible for a male author to write an authentic female protagonist." To show that this isn't true, Katz gave us a snippet of this writer's work, notably the first page.

"I sauntered over, certain he noticed me," the excerpt reads. "I'm hard to miss, I'd like to think — a little tall (but not too tall), a nice set of curves if I do say so myself, pants so impossibly tight that if I had had a credit card in my back pocket you could read the expiration date. The rest of my outfit wasn't that remarkable, just a few old things I had lying around. You know how it is."

We got additional tidbits from Katz — all from the novel's first chapter, mind you — and it didn't get any better. For example, the character notes how her "boobs" were "propped up all front and center, in a perfectly ladylike way." Oh, and she isn't a "prude" but she doesn't "mind the wilder side of life."

It's definitely not a feminist masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. 

In response to this, Twitter user @whitneyarner issued a challenge: "describe yourself like a male author would." Women then flooded social media with examples of how they thought men would describe them if they were female characters on the page.

Here are a few of those, all of which will make you laugh as a result of too much cringing:

As The Guardian points out, character descriptions like the one Katz unleashed upon the Twitterverse is nothing new in literature. From classic authors such as Jack Kerouac to John Updike, and even as recently as George R.R. Martin. That said, there are plenty of men who have been able to write women well. Perhaps the key here is actually pretty simple.

In the thread of responses to @whitneyarner's challenge, one aspiring male writer wrote that he is concerned deeply by this and that he has always wanted to get into writing but was afraid of writing female characters because of this kind of reaction. @kateleth had a simple answer: "Just treat them like people … it ain't that hard."

Cover image via vectorfusionart / Shutterstock.com


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