There are certain common mistakes that male writers make while etching out their female characters. Recently, a few women on Tumblr compiled an ‘open letter’ to male writers, addressing their concerns. These women called out misconceptions about  periods, functionality of hair, high heels, maternity etc found in books penned by male authors.

Dear Men Writers,

There are times while reading a book when one cannot overlook the obvious inaccuracies, especially when they are defining and subjecting women, who make up half the world’s population. Everyone will agree that male authors sometimes describe women in the weirdest ways, creating an unrealistic image that many buy into.

Many users voiced their disappointment on Tumblr, writing how male writers never get characteristics of women right. 

A woman with the username accidental-musings said: Liking makeup doesn’t make you shallow or preclude all other interests. Your female character can be intelligent, badass AND wear killer red lipstick.

We asked women writers about common mistakes male writers make while describing female characters

According to Sanjana M Vijay Shankar, the focus is always on physical attributes when there’s much more to focus on. She writes, “I once read an excerpt where the author introduces the female character as a leading detective, and then goes on to talk (an entire paragraph!) about her ample bosom, full lips and cute dimples.”

Rakhi Jain shared how she once read a paragraph where the male writer had described a scene as, ‘the infant suckled and the mother felt desire shoot through her spine’. Rekha further tells us she knew how it had to be a “cheesy male writer who knew nothing about sore breast, dry throats and bites”.

Menaka Cooke believes that both, female and male characters, should be described as human beings possessing all sorts of qualities. The characters, she writes, should look real with all their “quirks, idiosyncrasies, blind spots and passions intact”.

Vasundhra Saroj Kumar shares an example. She comments, “That when she lets loose her bun it flows down like river with a gush of fragrance. While in reality, first it might take some hundreds of pins to be taken off to let loose that tidy bun. Second, it does not flow like a river, rather it has a bump for sometime which sometime has to be shaken off. With gallons of hairspray put in it. It definitely does not go that way.”

Sure, penning a female character for fiction can be daunting for the opposite sex. However, not being able to chronicle anything that is even remotely relatable is a huge concern.

Also Read: Do Women Writers In India Face Sexism For Their Writing?

More stories by Bhawana

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