Saturday, November 7, 2015

Male versus Female

Periodically I come across an article or a forum post that touches on the ancient question of gender differences in the way writers express themselves. Do men and women write differently? If so, are the differences inherent or learned? The argument has been going on a lot longer than I have been around, and no doubt will continue as long as we continue to have two genders.

I have written characters of both genders many times. I've never had anyone complain that my characters don't ring true. In fact, I have had several members of  the opposite sex tell me that my characters are "amazingly" accurate. I have no idea how, unless it's the fact that I don't write characters who are men or women. I write characters who are people. The fact that those people happen to have certain types of plumbing installed does not change the basic fact that they are all people.

I think that there is no question about males and females acting and reacting differently, at least part of the time, to equivalent situations. My theory is that there are basic inborn differences, but that the way we express those differences is a matter of cultural conditioning.

It's also true that all of my characters are written from the viewpoint of my attitude and world paradigm. This inevitably spills over and is expressed through their eyes, and thoughts, and choices. Even allowing for gender variance, an American man and an American woman are going to look at the world, and react to the world, in a similar way. And it is quite possible that their differences will be less than their similarities when compared to, for example, an equivalent pair from China or Iraq.

So, are there any points of variance that are consistent between men and women of all cultures? Probably. Am I going to express my opinion on what they might be in a public post? Not for all the coffee in Columbia. My secret weapon is to hunt down as many beta readers of the opposite sex as I possibly can and get them to tell me if I missed the target. If anyone knows a better way, I am happy to listen.