an Edmund Dulac illustration,
Tales From the Arabian Nights,
Reader's Digest edition, 1991.
According to one of those fizzy-quizzy thingies on the net, I write like a man.
The fact that I know a Robertson screwdriver from a Phillips may have something to do with it. I also know how to BBQ, and I gave up hiding my brains a long time ago.
I do not ululate at mice or spiders, don't give a sweetgoddamn whether the toilet seat is up or down, or which way the toilet paper precipitates -- incidental details that could be interpreted as a crypto-masculine mind-set.
Just the same, no one has ever accused me of being anything other than female; or, with the exception of my mother bemoaning my lamentable tendency at times to act like a tom-boy, lacking in femininity.
Still, my attitudes definitely affect how I formulate my heroines.
A lot of tasks in this world I consider gender-neutral. They depend more on experience, strength, training or talent, rather than on chromosones.
Yet there are definitely major difference in the sexes in action, reaction and approach to life, regardless of how we define the cause of those differences.
The TSTL (Too-Stupid-To-Live) heroine, the one with the emotional maturity of a 14-year old, whose feelings trump common sense at crucial moments, is largely passe; and the strong, and sometimes kick-ass female, seems to be the favoured type.
So my question is this: with the gender-blender fact of the new equality having removed many of those acceptable and convenient little gender flickers for femininity -- passivity, weaknesses, tea-drinking, whathaveyou -- how do writers assert femininity in their females?
They can tell us a character is female, but how do they show it?