“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!
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.
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.
@kateleth new twitter challenge: describe yourself like 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.
Her breasts entered the room before her far less interesting face, decidedly maternal hips and rounded thighs. He found her voice unpleasantly audible. As his gaze dropped from her mouth (still talking!) to her cleavage, he wondered why feminists were so angry all the time. https://t.co/YtsZENYsgS
She didn't exist because she's fat." https://t.co/xVxALYNBnD
she was not what you'd call beautiful: eyes a bit too big, mouth a bit too lush, just a few too many boobs. her hair was dark, because she was smart https://t.co/5o9NMcojEq
I had big honking teeters, just enormous bosoms, and I thought about them constantly as I walked down the street, using my legs (thick, with big shapely calves), but never not thinking about my enormo honkers, https://t.co/UaCQBchchL
As she moved her strong cocoa body gleamed as if calling to the country of Africa. Her chocolate waist moved like an alluring siren calling me to crash on the rocks of her brown buttocks. https://t.co/eY08cAprM1
As round as she was loud, she immediately filled the room. My first thought was that I didnt want to fuck her. My second thought was even more disturbing, she didnt seem to care. She contemplated the roundness of her own boobs and contributed something to the meeting.
She smiled, but I could see the sadness in her exotic almond-shaped eyes. Her scarf was made of light cotton, but the weight of oppression that came with it kept her head bowed in submission.
No male author has ever written an attractive fat woman in her twenties who loves life so I wouldn't even know where to start tbh. https://t.co/sCgNL6pCG1
She was forty but could have passed for a year younger with soft lipstick and some gentle mascara. Her dress clung to the curves of her bosom which was cupped by her bra that was under it, but over the breasts that were naked inside her clothes. She had a personality and eyes.
@whitneyarner @kateleth She stood in front of the mirror & ran her hands down her naked body. She could be beautiful. If only she was ten years younger, twenty pounds lighter, & had larger breasts. She sighed. She should have paid for a boob job instead of all that ice cream.
Ni hao!!" I yelled at the slight girl across the street; she whipped around, glaring at me with exotic almond eyes as I called to her in the unmistakable voice of her ancestors. https://t.co/8jVCl7mfon
@PuccaNoodles I didn't write one because it'd probably just be about breasts and almond-shaped eyes, but I did draw it out
Teeth studded her eyelids, the twisted geometry of her limbs. If there were breasts, any vestige of femininity, he couldn't see them. Not under the slithering, static hiss of what he'd imagined was skin.. She gurgled. He'd remember the noise forever. https://t.co/xFFPmrXwfd