Male gaze, begone.
If you’ve ever picked up a book written by a man (and trust us, there are many), sometimes the way they write about women is a little cringy – especially when they write from a female point of view. From the manic pixie dream girls that saturate our books and screens to more specific cases like Vogue’s incredibly creepy interview with Selena Gomez, we’ve taken it all in with raised eyebrows but female Twitter users have finally clapped back.
Author Gwen C. Katz was scrolling through the #ownmovement tag on Twitter, a campaign that criticises how characters of colour are written, and came across an unnamed male author whose writing was interesting to say the least.
She tweeted, ‘A male author is insisting that he is living proof that it’s possible for a male author to write an authentic female protagonist. Here’s a quote from his first page.’
The extract written from a woman’s point of view was painful to read, the highlight of which was: ‘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 a credit card in my back pocket you could read the expiry date.’
Unsurprisingly, people kicked off and slammed the writing for over-sexualising women and sounding completely unrealistic. (Also, could somebody please get that woman a new pair of jeans?) Gwen’s tweet was later picked up by other female writers including Kate Leth, who responded with the spark that ignited a feminist Twitter movement.
She described herself the way this male writer would, tweeting out, ‘I liked to think of myself as busty, but not impure. I had hair so long you’d think it was extensions, but I didn’t need earthly enhancements. My cleavage, to be sure,’
Later, podcast host Whitney Arner issued a challenge to the rest of Twitter by responding, ‘new twitter challenge: describe yourself like a male author would’.
And it was glorious. Here’s some of our favourites below:
Male Twitter users joined the fray, with many tweeting Kate to tell her they were ‘scared to write women’ – which is exactly the last thing we want. She dished out one final piece of advice that we want burned into the top of every writer’s notebook:
‘It’s so easy to write women. Just stop yourself when you’re writing them as how they relate to you – object of affection, mother, counsellor – and write them as people with their own agenda,’ she said.
On that note, I’m going to move on with the rest of today’s agenda. I’m going to rise delicately as a spring flower swaying in the wind from my chair, adjust my yellow dress that shows off my cleavage but in a classy way and saunter through the office on my short (yet adorably curvy) legs.
Then I’m going to make myself a coffee and order a book by today’s Google Doodle, Maya Angelou. It’s the late author’s 90th birthday today – now she was a lady who knew how to write a woman.