One of my sisters (I have a few) recently expressed her frustrations about when a male author “tries” to write from the point of view of a female character. She claims that they never get it right and they don’t understand women and therefore she doesn’t buy their female characters.
Now, I believe that this is true… sometimes. I have read books and laughed at how absurd the women are. Sex scenes written by men are, in particular, ridiculous. But I disagree with her blatant generalization that there isn’t a single male author out there who can write believably from a female perspective. That’s got to be crap.
Also, the logic would mean that women cannot write believably from a male perspective or about men. And that can’t be true either (especially since I am currently writing about a male protagonist). I mean, J.K. Rowling wrote a coming of age saga about a boy to wild applause; Coraline is thoroughly believable; Silas Marner has the wisdom of a man who has lost everything to gain the world (metaphorically speaking, of course); and Sally Lockhart is really only unbelievable in the context of her times, not because of Philip Pullman’s manly bits.
Conversely, there are plenty of examples I can point to that don’t make any sense. The girl in Richard Greener’s The Knowland Retribution, for example; her, I don’t buy; or, Jeffrey Eugenides’s Madeleine in The Marriage Plot. But that doesn’t mean that no woman can write about men or no man can write about women, does it?
Can a writer write convincingly about the opposite sex?