Afloat in a Sea of Estrogen

Earlier in the week I had 7-8 fellow bloggers volunteer to read my short story, Itinerary, and almost every one of them showed a bit of surprise when they discovered it was written from a female POV. Most commented that I did a pretty good job communicating a feminine perspective. Anyone ever wondered why I go by DL instead of my real first name (Don)? First, I have never been crazy about my name and when I started writing I was determined to change it. Secondly, I wanted to avoid some of the same pre-conceptions that arose with my short story this week. Initials are gender-neutral, and I don’t have to struggle against bias towards a male author writing from a female POV. And it does exist!

Why am I so comfortable writing as a woman? I come to work every day and supervise seven women. Their ages range from 43 at the youngest, to 62. All but one of them is married and has children and/or grandchildren. They are as close to me as family. Most of us have been working together in this same office for 20 years and you can’t do that without knowing each other inside and out.

In fact, during my whole career I’ve only had women working for me. It wasn’t a conscious choice, things just worked out that way. As a result I’m usually the brunt of jokes around the office regarding my harems. Let me tell you something though, it ain’t no picnic! Between PMS, menopause, fashion talk, diets, ex-husbands, current husbands, suitors, rebellious children, and ignorant co-workers, I put up with a ton of shit! Do you know how many times I heard the phrase “MEN SUCK”? Anytime a guy does something wrong, I hear about it. Most of the time I am trying to defend the “male” gender or I am asked to explain the “males” point of view. It can be exhausting and not always easy. It’s even worse than being raised with sisters because they don’t share the same 20’ X 40’ room eight hours a day, five (and a lot of times six) days a week, 52 weeks a year, for 20 years.

On the flip side, I don’t have to worry about getting “in touch” with my feminine side because I am forced fed it every day (more like “bent over”). As a result I have a very good feeling for the female perspective of things. Let me clarify that…….I have a sense of the female perspective….it doesn’t necessarily mean I agree or understand it. In order to do that I would have to have my brain totally re-wired.

Other men might have the tendency to overcompensate when put in a situation where they are outnumbered, and in this case it would mean being as “Butch” as possible. Not me. I do what I always do……go with the flow.

That’s not saying that I’m not “Butch”, but I do have a great recipe for Eggplant Parmesan!!

43 comments

  1. Writing from the perspective of the opposite sex is such a fun exercise. And once, a reader emailed me and wrote, "Huh, and all this time I thought you were a woman." Now that's a compliment!!

    Best of luck getting Itinerary in print -- it's definitely publish-worthy work!

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  2. I go with the flow as well.
    And if you do ever figure women out completely, be sure to fill in the rest of us!

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  3. Insightful post, I think. j/k (about the I think that is).

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  4. Let me put this on the record: I have never, nor will I EVER say (in the derogatory) that 'men suck'. My three best friends are men.

    In truth, there are good PEOPLE and bad people, and people floating somewhere in the murky grey area, between good and bad. It isn't gender specific, in my mind.

    I know some (non-gay...though I have gay friends too) MOODY, bitchy, drama-causing men, and some rock steady, level-headed, non-gossipy women.
    I know some vile, cheating women, and some faithful, kind, loyal men.

    MEN are not pigs; PEOPLE can be. PEOPLE can suck.

    God bless you for being able to work with that many women, though. Better you than me.

    I haven't ever written an entire story from a male's perspective. Maybe someday.

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  5. I envy you b/c your professional environment is helping your writing, whether you intended it that way or not. Writing from the male perspective has always been my weak spot. Readers have told me that all my male characters sound alike, and I agree with them. Maybe I need to spend a few weeks in male boot camp or on a survivalist retreat or something. Any advice?

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  6. I thought you did a wonderful job with your short story. I takes talent to write from the opposite sex prospective, so kudos to you!

    Which reminds me...I've got another genre for you that for some reason, slipped my mind yesterday: Women's fiction. I think that's the best fit. But, hey, that's just my little ol' opinion. ;-)

    ~JD

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  7. It always amazes me that people will make assumptions about the writer because of the gender/actions/etc of their main character - especially writers. We, of all people, should know better.

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  8. This is such an interesting topic. I know that men and women can understand how each other thinks by the things we say and do. BUT can you truly understand how we FEEL? For me, it comes down to (again and again) the generality that men want sex for sex and women want sex for love. It doesn't make it BAD that men want sex for sex, not at all. Just different.

    For me, that is the fundamental difference and leads to all other emotional reactions from women.

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  9. I write for kids, but the majority of my books have boy protags . Why? Well, I have 4 brothers and my only kid is a boy.

    We write what we know, even if it doesn't seem like we should know it.

    Happy weekend!

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  10. I can see why you would be so good writing from that perspective then. Wow, I admire you, even I could go crazy spending that much time around women.

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  11. So THAT explains the cheerleader skirts you always want to wear! :) J/K. Good for you! It's always good to meet a male to whom women are not this huge baffling mystery that most like to say we are.

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  12. I think I'd want to kill myself being surrounded by that many women OR that many men for so long.

    One of the things I've realized in becoming a better writing is that there really isn't much of a "male" and "female" gender stereotype--there are just different kinds of people, and you either nail their personalities or you don't. So I have no problem reading books by men from a female perspective, or the other way around, because there's no reason that an insightful person shouldn't be able to write from the pov of the opposite gender.

    I will say this regarding PMS: some women make a huge deal and excuse out of it, and some never exhibit the trait at all :-P (I swear, one of my ex-boyfriends had PMS worse than any teenager.)

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  13. Women. UGH. We can be so annoying sometimes. WEll, not me, of course. I'm NEVER annoying. ;)

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  14. hahaha this post gave me a laugh. It's actually nice to hear a guy speak out about the @%$& that they have to put up with when around us females. You should write a comedic book from the female perspective, a satire. I WOULD READ IT! i'm sure you have tons of stories from work!

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  15. What a work environment!!! Wowza! I think I'd even have a hard time with that... a pack of women is a dangerous thing.

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  16. I'm loving your attitude, DL! If I were surrounded by that many women, I'd probably go mad. LOL. I always worked better with men...less cattiness. (is that even a word?)

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  17. If you don't goo with the flow, you run the risk of being drowned.

    You stated in another blog that Daredevil was one of your favorite characters growing up. Me, too.

    Have a great weekend, Roland

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  18. With that much experience being around all those women, you could probably get inside the head of a woman just as well as any of us girls!

    I don't know if I'll always be this way with my male characters, but my current MC, Dominic, is my easiest character. I know him inside and out. I "hear" exactly what he says and know exactly how he reacts to the other characters and the world around him. It MIGHT be because he's like my ultimate dream guy, but I'm not willing to swear on it. ;)

    So, you go, girl! I mean, boy! *heh heh heh*

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  19. Great post. I understand it so well. I'm surrounded by testosterone.

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  20. Great, insightful post! I love it. You are as they say a "Man's Man" without a doubt. (Whatever the hell that means!)

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  21. I love writing from a male POV. It's so much fun! Especially when you can make them as twisted as you want, or as cute and and sexy.

    Sounds like you do a great job going with the flow!

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  22. "Go with the flow"

    No pun intended?

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  23. Hey everybody! I've recently taken to responding to the comments I receive via direct e-mail. I find it more personal, and efficient. Unfortunately, there are a few of you that don't have an email address listed under your Google Account, so therefore I'm unable to respond to your comment. Keeping track with who've been responded to is becoming a chore and I really don't want to leave anyone out. So please add your email address to your profile.

    Thank you...everybody! :)

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  24. Just wanted to drop a line - let you know you have one more follower. Thanks for the invite to check out your blog. Can't wait to see what you write!

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  26. I'm a female and I'm still trying to figure me out. There've been a lot of successful male writers who write in a female pov, just like the same is true for the other way round. I say if you can do it, then go for it.

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  27. I hate double standards. It's perfectly fine for a woman to write from a male POV but it's not quite as acceptable for a man to write from a female POV. But you know what? If you can handle it well, who cares what anyone else thinks? You've got some interesting experiences aiding your understanding and that's not something a lot of people can claim. So great job!

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  28. I think it's very ambitious and amazing that you write from the opposite sex perspective. I think that you would definitely have an understanding of it in an office with all women. The estrogen is high and lots of stories are told I bet!!!

    Good luck with the rest of your writing and it sounds like you have an excellent start!

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  29. Kudos to you for daring the venture into the sea of estrogen! It takes a lot of guts, but can be done very well - and it sounds like that's the way it's going!

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  30. this post had me smiling right away. Thank you. I needed that.

    I do the exact opposite because most of the things I like to talk about lean towards the geeky guy side. :P

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  31. I like you. You remind me of my friend Rob, who is writing a whole novel from a female's perspective. Good luck to both of you figuring us out; I don't even get us most of the time.

    Thanks for finding my blog! I look forward to reading more of your insights.

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  32. Haha I loved the sentiments expressed here. Also, hilarious last line. ( Can I have that recipe? =P)

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  33. Well, when you get published one day (see, I'm optimistic), I'll definitely buy your book:)

    You know, I've heard of a male author who writes from a female POV. He uses his first two initials, too, instead of his first name. Can't remember his name right off the bat, but the first book in his series is called Whiskey Sour. (Sorry, I'm suffering from severe mommy brain today).

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  34. Haha... yeah, I know the feeling my friend. My current job, for the last 6 years, has been me as the only guy, surrounded by women. You pretty much nailed it when you said how it feels to be working around women. I too am force fed the feminine side. LOL Heaven help us both :P

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  35. Fun post and very insightful! I like your feminine side, as well~

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  36. ...and it's all about perspective isn't it?

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  37. Isn't that what writing fiction is all about? You have to be able to put yourself in the mind of another. Think about it...you don't have to be a serial killer to create one in a story. At least I hope not.

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  38. Great topic and kudos to you for writing from the perspective of the opposite sex.
    Good luck!

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  39. Ha! DL, I also used to supervise a group of women (and all my bosses were women). I have a few theories on it--we'll have to swap stories sometime!

    I love the idea of writing from the opposite sex POV. And I think everyone should try it once at least, just to spread your writing wings!

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  40. I often write in the male POV (about 50% of the time). In some ways, I prefer it. Women have to deal with so much stuff related to our bodies and childbearing that it's nice to go adventuring in the male mind and forget about all that!

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  41. Don't forget Lilah's LAST LINES BLOGFEST. I had to post mine early due to work. I look forward to reading yours, Roland

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  42. This post made me smile! I've read some great writing in the female POV written by a male (Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone comes to mind right now). What flows for you is perfect for you.

    PS I used to work in a female dominated field and it drove me crazy many times! Kudos to you for doing it!

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  43. You really are floating in a sea of estrogen, aren't you? Lucky you. Ha ha ha. :-)

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