Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From a Different Perspective

People (myself included) often have problems writing from the point of view of the opposite gender, and with good reason.

Men and women are wired differently and therefore think differently.  In the most basic terms, men think logically and women think empathetically.

Neither of these two types (called male and female brains) is exclusive to either men or women, but they do tend to be generally associated with their respective genders.

Male brains are wired to try and fix things and figure out logical solutions to problems.  Female brains are adept at sensing other people’s feelings (which came in handy when they needed to figure out what a baby needed, as it cannot talk) and they excel at languages.

While men seem to isolate language skills in the dominant (usually left) side of the brain, women are usually able to draw those skills from both sides, resulting in a better understanding and usage of language.  That is one of the reasons why men tend to speak less than women (according to BBC UK, men speak average 7000 words a day while women speak 20000).  Men tend to communicate more through actions (maybe it has something to do with the fact that women can pick up on their feelings).

A simple way of saying it is this:  “There are people people, and things people.” (William D. Hamilton)

There is an extreme of each side of the spectrum, i.e. an extreme male brain and an extreme female brain.

Autism is, according to Simon Baron-Cohen, an extreme male brain.  People who have it tend to see everything as ‘things’ instead of the people they are.  Thus, they view people not as thinking and feeling humans, but rather as machines or systems that can be analysed and understood.  It is also interesting to note that eighty per cent of autistics are male.

On the other hand, an extreme female brain, according to Bernard Crespi and Christopher Badcock, is Schizophrenia.  They see minds and people in everything.  They hear voices where there are none and believe people are conspiring against them when no one is.

Using all this information, one could perhaps get a better perspective of the opposite gender in order to write a convincing character.

For those interested in the differences between male and female brains, here is an article.  An article about the extreme male and female brains is here.  Finally, see this post (from Writer’s Digest site) that explains a bit about writing from the male perspective.

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