Whenever you read a book or watch a movie or TV show, you know, logically, that what you’re paying attention to is fiction. You know that personality traits are exaggerated, stereotypes are relied upon, and scenarios are created in someone’s mind. You’re aware! Regardless of that awareness, though, you can’t help feeling surprised when real life doesn’t exactly match up with the fictional ones you’ve been focusing on. It’s so easy to get caught up in fake characters so much that you forget about that logical part of your brain. That’s why, sometimes, we need a gentle reminder that there are things fictional characters do that people don’t actually do in real life.
Which brings us to this Ask Reddit thread, which asks the men of Reddit what female writers get wrong when writing male characters. It’s a valid question – a female has trouble writing a male character because, well, she’s not a male. It’s pretty interesting to hear what writers get wrong from a male perspective. And yes, of course it’s true that not all guys are the same, and what makes sense to one dude won’t be true for another, but in general, you can see that there are certain things male characters do that guys never actually do in real life. And the below dudes confirm that. Check it out and you’ll probably start to think differently about your favorite fictional men.
Ignore Physical Traits Of WomenWhen a female writes a male character, one of the biggest things you'll notice is that the male character doesn't obsess over physical traits of a woman - you know, boobs, butts, all that stuff. While physical stuff isn't the only thing guys care about, the truth is that they DO care about that stuff. User Kruppstahlterminator points this out, saying, "Harry Potter: Underestimating the influence testosterone has on one's mind massively. The books are pretty prudish so you never see more of the character's sexuality. So I don't expect descriptions of Harry paying attention to a girls cleavage. But the physical component is extremely important to men and should have been described better. Harry's attraction to these girls seem to be caused mostly by feelings and thoughts. Never their curves or hair." Of course, Harry Potter is a children's book, so this makes sense, but many guys on the thread agreed that it does bring up a valid point
Say All The Right Things When They're EmotionalIf you've ever watched any movie or TV show, you've seen a male character get really angry or upset, and then say something very profound or incredibly romantic. Then, in the real world, you get in a fight with your boyfriend, for example, and they get angry and just walk away and you're like... wtf? User m50 discusses this, saying, "Men say dumb things when emotions are high, and they will often say things they don't mean. Men get very emotional, and emotionally invested, but hide it from public view, which means that when emotions are in control they lose the ability to think or speak straight." So, in real life, men often need some time to say the right things when they're feeling very emotional, as opposed to in the fictional world, where they know exactly what to say. Makes sense!
Remember All The Little Details Of A StoryOne user pointed out that a lot of male characters remember things that guys in real life don't really pay attention to. User muastaMale said, "What I've have noticed a couple of times is that a female writer is used to describing relationships between people , including people the character doesn't have a whole lot to with and the reality is that we only remember people we regularly interact with , are attracted too , are friends with , or see as competition unless they are absolutely unique. For instance we wouldn't remember which secretary our friend is having a affair with even if he had told us, unless we are obsessed with her. Otherwise we store it as 'one of the secretaries.' And don't get me wrong we'd probably know her name from working there and have a perfectly normal professional relation but there is no reason to remember which one of the secretaries it is so we wouldn't."
Understand Their Emotions Right AwayWriters are always making characters who figure out the meaning behind their actions and thoughts right away - this is true for males and females. User Workchoices talks about this, saying, "A lot of men don't fully understand their feelings, at least in the moment. Sometimes I will act irrationally or strangely and wonder way after the fact why I snapped at that person or why I haven't played guitar in a while or why I keep eating fast food. Then its like a lightbulb 'oh my uncle died, I'm probably angry or grieving or depressed or something about that.'"
Acting Like They Have No EmotionsAnd then, on the flip side, writers will act like men have zero emotions at all. User TheAdventurousWriterMale said, "Over-solidifying our emotional expression. Rendering us as too stoic." And user omniplatypus agreed, saying, "This! Lots going on inside, just not supposed to show it, traditionally. The I will say younger generations are a bit more expressive though these days on average."
Feel Totally Confident All The TimeSome guys feel like a lot of women write male characters who are too confident and don't accurately portray the insecurity that real dudes feel on a regular basis. User trail22 says, "Not insecure or fearful enough. Not having complex emotions or empathy. Yes they don't read as much into situations nor express emotions as women but they feel just as deeply." Good point! It seems like a lot of the time writers either make guys WAY too sensitive, or not sensitive at all.
Obsess Over What Other People Think Of ThemThis user's name was deleted, but he explained this pretty well - male characters often seem obsessed with what other people think of them, but a lot of guys aren't like that in real life. The user said, "One of the things I've noticed some female writings doing is making their male characters a little too self-conscious and too concerned about whether they're liked and accepted. This is a difficult thing to explain but basically how I see it is that women see themselves more as objects of desire in the world. If someone thinks they're ugly or strange it's a real issue because they're no longer desired. So in fiction they're often more aware of how they are being viewed through that lens. Men tend to see themselves as objects of respect. It's not a question of whether women desire me, it's a question of whether they'll let me have them. Whether they think I'm capable. To think of it another. Let's say you have an antagonist who makes a snide remark. The female protagonist might go, 'oh no, everyone hates me now.' The male protagonist might go, 'I'm going to make that jerk see he underestimated me.' Now I'm talking in huge generalizations here that don't reflect the real world or how vastly complex people and their emotions are. But the point I'm making is that I often read male protagonists written by women who care way too much about whether people like them in a way that seems a bit feminine."
Experience Everything Coming Easily To ThemOne user talked about how women writer's discuss male privilege. User joerobo said, "They tend to think men's lives are much, much more 'privileged' then they actually are. Nothing screams 'woman writer' louder than a character that acts like some 'alpha male', for whom life is easy and things fall into place just by virtue of being that person." I mean... there's no denying or arguing the fact that men, especially white men, have a certain privilege in this world, but okay.
Which one of these were you surprised about? What do you disagree about? Let us know in the comments.