Writing as the Opposite Sex

One time, in a Writing for Young People Class, I had a lesson on how to write as the opposite sex and, quite frankly, I thought it was nonsense. It boiled down to things like: well boys like to be rough and messy, while girls are nice and clean (bear in mind this was a class about writing for children). So, for today’s entry I’m going to give my own advice on how to write as the opposite sex.

Put simply, when writing the opposite sex, don’t write somebody as ‘Jessica the woman’ or ‘Gordon the man’ just write them as ‘Jessica’ or ‘Gordon’. It’s an inherently sexist notion that there is a certain way to write males and a certain way to write females, why should there be any difference? They are all humans after all. Sure, if you picked a random woman and a random man and put them beside one another, they would probably be very different, but this difference has nothing to do with their sex, it’s just down to the natural diversity of human behaviours; the personalities of the randomly picked male and of the randomly picked female could very easily be the reverse of what they are and it would be completely unnoteworthy.

Another thing is, writing a character ‘as a male’ or ‘as a female’ will severely limit the types of people you create, because you’ll doubtlessly find yourself writing them as (potentially damaging) stereotypes and archetypes. One thing to try is this: not having a character’s sex be the first thing you decide. Create a character, plan out their backstory and their personality quirks, and once all that’s done, THEN pick their sex, that way you’re bound to avoid any potential bad writing.

Hopefully that was interesting to anybody who does find they struggle writing the opposite sex. There’s also the fact that there are many people who don’t fit the two gender binaries, which my method takes into account, but I shan’t go into that now…

(Also, it’s Friday, so don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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