[LMB] Writing your opposite gender

Harimad harimad2001 at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 5 15:54:03 BST 2011

--- On Sun, 8/14/11, Dusty Jackson <dustyjackson at gmail.com> wrote:
> This discussion reminds me of the comment I heard a few
> months ago from
> somebody borrowing books from the library, that made me
> think quite a bit.
> She said, "Oh no, I never read Alexander McCall
> Smith.  I don't think a
> white person can write a black character.  You can't
> expect to write a story
> from the point of view of somebody from another culture,
> and it's offensive
> even to try." I heard that, and I thought, All right, so
> you never read
> books by female writers about male characters, and vice
> versa?  You never
> read biographies, or historical fiction, or fantasy? 
> Black people are not
> inscrutable aliens, lady!

I can see your friend's point but I think it's made too strongly.  Members of the dominant society (in RL, usually white, or male, or rich, or aristocracy, or ...) are rarely are well-versed in the underclass' society and life, which makes it hard to write it well.  OTOH the underclass usually knows a lot about the dominant society, making it much easier to write.  But that's just the generalization and there are tons of counter-examples.

- Harimad

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