“Describe Yourself Like a Male Author Would” Is the Most Savage Twitter Thread in Ages

The challenge is a fierce indictment of what happens when you try to write a character you don’t respect or understand

On an unnamed part of the internet, young adult author Gwen C. Katz found a delightfully deluded male author claiming that his facility with writing natural women characters constituted an unassailable rebuke to the idea that we need diverse authors to write diverse viewpoints. If a male author can write a woman this convincing, surely there’s no need for the #OwnVoices movement!

Some of his other perfect descriptions—which, remember, he himself was claiming were evidence of his skill—included “I could only imagine the thoughts that were running through his head. Naughty thoughts,” and “I could imagine what he saw in me. Pale skin, red lips like I had just devoured a cherry popsicle covered in gloss, two violet eyes like Elizabeth Taylor’s.” A cherry popsicle covered in gloss, y’all. Why would you even eat that? And TWO eyes, just to be clear.

The whole thread is worth a read, but it got even better once writer/podcaster/cat tweeter Whitney Reynolds proposed a Twitter game: Describe yourself the way a male author would.

“I never expected it to blow up, it was a joke made to a friend while I was ripped on Franzia. But it clearly resonated!” Reynolds told Electric Literature. “The thing that stuck out to me most is how many women responded with something along the lines of, I’m old or fat or a woman of color, so I wouldn’t be described by a male author at all. I might as well be invisible.” Those responses, taken together with the women who waxed rhapsodic over their booby boob-shaped boobs, constitute a pretty damning indictment of the state of writing about women and people of color.

If you’re a male writer, this is actually good news! It means you have a chance to listen really carefully and do a lot better in creating your women characters. Consider, for instance, writing one who’s cutting as hell and 100% has your number.

Below are some of our favorite responses to Reynolds’ challenge—but it’s not too late to pour yourself some Franzia and jump in.

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