Brain Babies: T&A, or Tepid and Asinine
It has recently come to my attention that men are still, in damn near 2020, writing women as if they were a collection of erogenous zones and nothing else. Stop it.
Seriously, cut it out. This is sloppy, amateurish, inaccurate, and, frankly, insulting. Women, like men, are complex. They’re arrogant, shy, belligerent, kind, messy, obsessive, thoughtful, acidic, and every other damned character trait you can think of. They are not simply bouncing breasts and long, toned legs. They are not meat puppets in skirts.
Stop. Writing. Them. This. Way!
When a man writes about a woman’s breasts, attributing them with personality, or highlighting their physical characteristics over the course of an entire paragraph, it’s like broadcasting to the reading world, “I have no idea what women are really like, because I’ve only ever observed them from a safe distance!”
Women are not mythological, magical beasts with parts wondrous and strange. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Ready? They’re human beings, just like you. They fart, and poop, and hiccup. They dream big and have crushing disappointments. They laugh, and cry, and hate and love, and feel inadequate. Just like men.
So, when you’re writing a woman as a character, try to remember that she’s a real person. Try to avoid focusing on her breasts, on the way they strain against her shirt. No woman alive thinks about her own breasts (outside of sex play) unless it’s because her damn bra is cutting into her shoulders, like it does every damn day, and Jesus Christ, do these things really have to weigh this much?
Another thing: most women, like most men, really do enjoy sex. But, you know what? Most of them also enjoy the lead-up. Not just foreplay (though that’s a ton of fun for everybody, if you’re doing it right); also, the romantic stuff. Kissing. Nuzzling. Slowly discovering someone’s body for the first time. Relishing the pleasing of a partner she knows intimately. If you’re going to write sex, remember, too, that there’s almost always something else going on. There are two (or more) people in the room. They have feelings, baggage maybe; they might be scared, hopeful, overwhelmed, or just insanely horny. People are complicated. Men are. Women too.
Try not to forget that. Women are complicated. Women have feelings. They have brains. They are people.
Nor just T&A. Not just bodies flouncing around for your amusement. And, you know what? This is a good thing to remember outside of just writing fiction, folks. Women are people. It’s not that difficult a concept.
So, the next time you’re writing a woman in a story, put yourself in her four-inch heels; try not to fall over, as you try to navigate her world, her feelings, her mind. And, once you’re there, write her like she deserves. As a real person: flawed; aching; hopeful; terrified; longing; wounded, etc.
Please. For pity’s sake.
Thanks for listening.
- About the Author
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Ken MacGregor writes stuff. Sometimes, he edits stuff too.
He has two story collections: AN ABERRANT MIND, and SEX, GORE & MILLIPEDES, a young adult novella: DEVIL’S BANE (YA winner of the 23rd annual Critters Readers Poll), a co-written (with Kerry Lipp) novel: HEADCASE (available in serialized form), and is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers (GLAHW). He is a somewhat regular contributor to HorrorTree with his column Brain Babies. He has also written TV commercials, sketch comedy, a music video, some mediocre poetry, and a zombie movie. Ken is the Managing Editor of Collections and Anthologies for LVP Publications. He’s curated two anthologies: BURNT FUR for Blood Bound Books, and STITCHED LIPS for Dragon Roost Press..
When not writing, Ken drives the bookmobile for his local library. He lives with his kids, two cats, and the ashes of his wife.
Ken can be found at the staggeringly egocentric-named website kenmacgregor.com.