And yet, as writers we can't escape writing from the opposite sex's point of view at some time. So what can we do?
We need to be realistic and recognize our weaknesses in understanding what we are not. At the same time, we can open our eyes and observe.
Here are a couple of things about men that I've observed over time:
- Men, in general, are not nearly as emotional as women. That is not to say they don't have emotions, they just aren't driven emotionally like women tend to be.
- Men, in general, are mission-oriented and less nurture-oriented. Men want to achieve, conquer and conquest. Women tend to desire a home and beauty and are more concerned about the emotional development of others (in particular children) than men.
- if one were to map a man's journey, it would probably be in pursuit of some objective, villain, or possession. If one were to map a woman's journey, it would likely be focused on her inner struggles, her need for security, her desire to have a home, preserve the family, and balance the emotional charges of those around her.
Genesis 2:15 - "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."
This was before Eve was created. One might surmise, therefore, that men have a drive for work, for accomplishment.
Genesis 2:18 - "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
God knew men needed help (sorry guys, but it's true - you need us women). Men need others. Sometimes they act like they don't, but they do. In particular, a man needs his woman--and not just to reproduce himself.
One could also surmise from this passage that women will have a drive to help their men. We were created for that purpose, therefore it comes naturally to us. A woman is generally unfulfilled when she doesn't have someone, and in particular a man, to help.
But this need for her man becomes even stronger because of her fallen state. "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Genesis 3:16. That urge we were created with becomes overwhelming, you might say.
"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, . . ." I Peter 3:7
I know, that passage opens up a nest of nasty spidery thoughts, but hear me out. A weaker vessel is fragile. Women tend to be given to more emotional upsets, and in that sense, she is like a weaker vessel.
Since the husband is instructed to give honor to the wife, we might conclude then that a wife is of great value ("Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD." Proverbs 18:22). In the character arcs of our women, we should seek to demonstrate that strong inner character that makes women of great value. Maybe we aren't always physically stronger than a man, but we are a treasure worth finding.
So much more could be said on this subject, but one thing you can do to ensure your characters are realistic, is have someone from the same sex as your character read your story and tell you if he or she rings true.
Any thoughts? What other ways can you make your men and women characters more true to their sex?