Note written an hour later after emailing with Jane: OK – forget this post! Write Like the Opposite Sex Day will go on like I said in the last post. But I’ll keep this post up anyway just so you can see how neurotic I am, and how quick I am to change ideas when I hear criticism, although she was completely right on. But who cares! Gotta have balls, like a male writer, and stick to my guns!
Jane made an interesting comment on my last post. I decided to quote it as a separate post.
Not meaning to critique your idea, my dear Neil, but stereotypical behaviors and expressions are probably not that involved, outside of some comedy, in the true-to-life expressions of most modern male and female characters. . .they just perpetuate the stereotypes.
Maybe for your next contest, you could consider blind entries — people writing characters — and then guessing whether the author is male or female. That would go above stereotyped expressions into who really might understand the opposite sex more.
(Please don’t hate me. I adore you! [she said that, not me])
Perhaps she has a point. If a writer tries to “write” like the opposite sex, won’t the results be characters who are stereotypes? Sure, it may be funny, but it won’t help us understand the other sex any better, or create strong characters. After all, not all women think about shoes all the time, like the gals on “Sex and the City.”
I’m a man, right? I don’t watch football. I rarely drink beer. I watch “All My Children?” How do I fit in? I worry that if we try too hard to write like the opposite sex, the results will suck.
If I am going to write like “a woman,” maybe I should avoid thinking of her — first and foremost — as a woman. She is a human being. A mother in North Carolina might have more in common with a male Eskimo than another mother down the block. Maybe the mother and the Eskimo both have phobias about snakes, or both had a controlling father! I can delve into a female’s character motivation and emotional state without even thinking about her gender. Wouldn’t this be the best way to make a female character three-dimensional?
When I talk to you on IM, I don’t say to myself “this is a woman.” OK, sometimes when I look at your photos on Flickr I do, but that’s for another reason. And it usually sounds like “This IS a WOMAN!” and my mouth is hanging open. You are a person first, a person with neurotic character flaws — before you are a woman. Some of you like to cook and some of you play roller derby. Some of you do both. And what’s wrong with me watching “All My Children?!” And most of these external things are just the surface of the real person.
Of course, there are some stereotypes that exist because they are true. Men and women act differently. Our brains are different. And there are differing social constraints. But real character is internal…. what goes on in the brain. Honestly — I have this strange feeling that some of you nice mommybloggers who write about knitting and cooking, are way more kinky and perverse in your minds, than any of us guys talking about our “dicks” all the time.
So, what do you think? Should I continue my contest the same way I outlined it earlier? Or will we just get stereotyped nonsense without stretching our writing skills? Or should I change it to Jane’s idea? — you send me a paragraph of something you wrote as yourself, and then something written “as” the opposite sex. Anything you want. I will post them without revealing the author’s name. Others will then vote on each piece — was it written by a man or a woman. It would be like in the old “To Tell the Truth” game show: “Will the real man or woman please stand up?” Later on, I will reveal who wrote each paragraph, with a link to your blog. The one who fools the most people wins!
I’m all about destroying gender stereotypes! Would Jane’s idea be a better way of doing this? What do you think?
And yes, Tootsie DVD will still be given to the winner.