I recently read this rather old interview with the estimable Graham Linehan (Father Ted, The IT Crowd, etc) in which he said,
I would probably be more comfortable writing just two men. I do find it hard to write for woman, as do a lot of male writers.
It reminded me of this article by Richard Warlow who is the only male writer on the BBC's Mistresses who wrote about writing women in a way that irritated me mainly because he couldn't resist sentences like,
But, well, women are beautiful, aren't they? And mysterious and confusing.
The way I look at it is if you are writing sentences like that then you already failing. I'm not beautiful, mysterious or confusing. (Confused, yes.)
That got me thinking about the subject. If some men can say that they find it hard to write women then what does that say about the vast majority of literature ever written?
Not every man agrees. Steve Martin says,
I know the feelings, but I don't know what’s interesting. So it was really hard to pick and choose. What needs to be known? ... But it’s easy to be an observer and appreciator of the opposite sex.
which isn't much different from Warlow's,
Most men I know, even the gay ones, are obsessed with women. I think that gives us a compelling qualification to write about them.
but less tiresomely expressed.
I found an interesting discussion at Absolute Write (I guess there are dozens of these discussions around the Internet). Some random quotes:
Write a woman like she is a person first, a woman second. She is an individual person with her own hopes, aspirations, and importantly, flaws, and not just some member of a club called "women". (Toothpaste and agreed with several times)
You have one thing in common with women... you are of the same species." "Don't watch sitcoms and dramas to try to figure out women... if I was a woman I'd be pissed about the way they are often portrayed on TV. Watch them in real life. (KTC)
(The discussion deteriorates from page 2 onwards.)
Finally, some great stuff from Marie Brennan,
We’re people. We’re individuals. We’re not Women, and we’re not types, either — the Cold But Brilliant Scientist, the Nurturing Mother Who Sacrifices All For Her Children, the Whore With A Heart Of Gold.
Seriously, I do have to read one of her books.