TikTok’s earlier summer emergence of the phrase “written by women” was intended to refer men who are respectful, kind and not afraid of their femininity.
In contrast, the phrase “written by a man” gained traction to describe female characters written through the male gaze. Men have been accused by male authors of portraying women as flat, one-dimensional creatures with very little development in comparison to their male counterparts. Men are notorious for writing about women in excessive detail and vivid descriptions.
TikTok has been hosting discussions about women writing men and men writing women for many months. This led to a meme in which people transcended gender stereotypes.
TikTok’s #menwrittenbywomen tag has been viewed 20.2 million times, while #writtenbymen is a hit with 45.4 million. These trends open up more conversations about how inaccurate and unrealistic female characters are written. This has been an ongoing debate online for decades.
The most recent iteration of the debate started on BookTok, a limitless online book club of readers and authors who use the app to promote novels, discuss new reads, and fantasize about fictional men. Many on BookTok believe that male lovers written by women are the best representation of what a woman wants. They’re intelligent, multifaceted and willing to compromise. BookTok authors describe men written by women as heroes but with rich stories.
You can think of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, or Outlander’s Jamie Fraser. These characters are frequently mentioned in TikTok videos that users create fantasies about male men. They are not the main characters in the stories that they appear in. However, unlike most female love interest writers, these love interests have their own motivations and characteristics outside the development of the protagonists. While they may not be necessarily effeminate but have a masculinity that is not based on toxic standards,
In one of the earlier examples of this trend from March, TikTok user merhiddlesbatch joked that she hated men, but still adored men written by women. To prove her point, she used photographs of Mr. Darcy and Laurie Laurence (from Little Women) as examples.
TikTok users shared their opinions on men who were written by women. Other creators laughed at the fact that men still write about women. In late July, TikTok users started mocking the stereotypical, unrealistic portrayals of women in popular culture. They used tropes such as sneaking out from a one-night date’s bed and sleeping in full makeup and lingerie and learning feminism.
These scenarios are all quite different, from mundane to very dramatic. However, each TikTok user has a skit that skewers how many women characters are written on TV, in video games and movies. Creator zhannared, acting as a woman written by a man just having breakfast, seductively danced around her kitchen as she mixed pancake batter. YouTuber xowiejones, portraying herself as a “woman taking a bubble bath written by a man,” posed in the tub with a full face of makeup, carefully placed foam, and dozens of candles. Game developer and streamer Morgan Ling placed bowls on her chest to parody the gravity-defying, revealing outfits that female video game characters wear to fight.
Ling stated in an Instagram DM that “it’s a fairly common meme that women [are] wearing basically a Bra and Panty Set versus their fully-covered male counterpart.” When you sexualize only female characters, and lack diversity (body shape or race), it’s called “representational femininity.” Women can often feel that they aren’t represented and feel objectified.
Ling, a female worker in the male-dominated gaming industry is acutely aware of how games cater to men. Ling noted that more games now portray female characters realistically. However, she also acknowledged that it is a hard truth that male characters are there for their sexual appeal.
Men written by men often have rich background, complicated motives and character development arcs that are unique to them. They are also bolstered and enriched with personality and nuance. Take the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has long overlooked its female characters unless they’re paired up with a man for a last-minute romantic subplot, inciting criticism for the franchise’s paltry attempts at representation.
On the other side, women written by men have plagued literature throughout history.
From the earliest forms of storytelling to the novels lining modern bookshelves, female characters are seen as overwhelmingly one-dimensional compared to their male counterparts. Jonathan Franzen was a novelist and award winner who is often cited as the greatest of his generation. He described Freedom’s main female character as being “significantly larger than everyone else” (also less uncommon, measurably dumber). Freedom received critical acclaim, but also sparked backlash over how quickly the literary world fawns over white male writers.
Sally Koslow, a novelist and Atlantic columnist in 2013, suggested that the low quality female characters created by men may have been due to patriarchal literary standards.
Koslow stated that women are more likely to create characters with the same sex than men. We’ve all read a lot of literature by men our entire lives.
Male authors sometimes write male characters. Even in the rare cases of well-written female characters like those in Stephen King’s books, their attention to describing women’s appearances is often strangely specific and uncomfortably detailed.
The subreddit r/menwritingwomen, where Reddit users share excerpts of biologically impossible sex scenes and ridiculous descriptions of female characters, was formed in 2017 and grew to a community of 486,000 readers fed up with ridiculous descriptions of women’s bodies. King’s obsession with breasts is often criticized by users.
Describing women’s bodies in excruciating detail — regardless of relevance to plot — is so universal, it inspired a 2018 Twitter meme.
This doesn’t mean that men can’t create women, nor that women aren’t capable of creating flat and sexualized characters for them. As the Hairpin noted in a 2013 essay, “it’s not impossible to find good female characters in male writers’ books…it’s just harder than it should be.”
On anime TikTok the phrase “written by women” is very popular. Users highlighted beloved shows such as Fullmetal Alchemist or Black Butler, which are examples of male characters that were written by female artists.
However, the phrase was criticized again when TikTok users started using it to describe male characters that were and not created by women.
In a video captioned, “men I think were written by women,” TikTok user madelyn.mp4 listed popular creators like Bo Burnham, Kurtis Conner, and Markiplier as men written by women. Another video tagged #menwrittenbywomen, posted by kcrowley48, described Harry Styles, Timothee Chalamet, and Hozier. TikTok user brittanyleighball captioned a video of her boyfriend serving her breakfast in bed with, “My guy was definitely ‘written by a woman,” adding that she “truly hit the jackpot.”
These are not women writing them because they think it’s hot.
The trend is a clear indication that white men are still being portrayed online. A large male fanbase does not mean that men can be perfect. These “men written” by women are more likely to have given some controversial views on sexuality, racism and misogyny. Burnham even addressed his past comedy routines — and the painfully low bar set for white men — in his latest special.
“They’re not written by women just because you think they’re hot,” TikTok user conniedont said in an exasperated TikTok in June. Conniedont responded to the comment that this phrase described what women consider attractive. She said, “I’m not talking about the term “written by women” when it is applied to men in real life.” It’s dangerous to place them on pedestals.
Tabea Bussmann, a photographer who went viral for her cinematic portrayals of women written by men, doesn’t think fictional men and women are actually as black and white as the trends joke they are. She likes the fact that it forces reality onto young people.
Bussmann said in an Instagram message that “this is only a stereotype to laugh at.” It’s important that young women know they don’t need to act like this.
It doesn’t matter who is writing it, but interacting in real-life with someone else of the same gender as your character will be a good idea.
Publited Sat, 07 August 2021 at 15:14.58 +0000