Sounds like a great method!
No, actually. This sounds like a horrible method.
The sexes of your characters, like so many others of their traits, inform those characters’ thoughts, actions, speech patterns, etc. You can’t just pick up a male character, call him female, and expect him to behave exactly the same way.
It isn’t sexist. It’s realistic.
I’m not saying that your female character is in any way at all inferior to your male character.
I’m saying that your female character will probably have faced, at some point in her life, the expectation that she is somehow inferior to a male character, and that this experience affects her interactions with the other characters. It affects, more importantly, the way she views and treats herself. It is not something you can toss aside on the excuse of “political correctness.”
Sexism exists. This truth is awful, but it is also true. Pretending that it doesn’t — writing stories in which it doesn’t — lies not only to your reader, but to yourself, and your writing will suffer the consequences.
There are a thousand other ways in which men and women behave differently — ways that have nothing to do with sexism and everything to do with innate differences. Does a man see pregnancy the way a woman does? Weight gain and loss? Menstruation? Rape?
Again, being aware of these differences is not being sexist. It is being realistic and aware of differing opinions being rooted in fact — something that all writers need to aim for.
Originally posted Sat, Jul 09 2011