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Why I Feel Dubious About ‘Men Written by Women’

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The social commentary on certain unrealistic tropes presented through creative work by women, perpetuated through social media, is generating a plethora of emotions worldwide. Women are seen according a great deal of thought and emotion into the male characters being dealt by them, as opposed to the lackluster way in which women are written by men- but that is a discussion for another time. Let us take a close look at the writing styles of female authors and directors in today’s contemporary times.  

Now what I believe these female artists go through is – motivated perception a phenomenon wherein how they perceive the world they create is somewhat different than what it truly is. Their male characters are seen having qualities that are superlative (in my opinion) but not something that I will expect from the boy next door, and are therefore, highly unrealistic. What such authors do is that they usually write said male characters keeping in mind their expectations of men they wish to come across in real life, spin the situation to look theatrical by dramatizing or overstating and then disseminate the end product to romance hungry girls not unlike myself. 

The phrase ‘men written by women’ has gained traction on social media in recent times. This title has been awarded to (unsurprisingly) white males from the entertainment industry written by female artists. These men have a certain exotic appeal to the female masses. And we’re not talking about sex appeal here. These men are seen as far more poised and ’emotionally aware’ individuals as opposed to the characters that display exaggerated machismo. There is a great level of ingenuity. Protagonists, especially, have certain feminine qualities which men generally do not have. Now who wouldn’t want a guy to be emotionally in touch with his feelings? Or one who does not ‘sulk’ but ‘brood’. I wouldn’t mind, that’s for sure.

But that is where reality kicks in. Having never been in a relationship, I do find solace and comfort in all things romance. But it does make me wonder- has it rendered me so picky and inconclusive in my decisions that I am not able to draw a distinct line between my sentiments and my expectations? I am yet to tread the waters between the two, where things don’t look so murky. 

Although these men tend to raise our expectations to a point from where there is no return, one cannot overlook the obvious irony. Men nowadays have been deemed worthy of being put up on a pedestal for doing the bare minimum. Being a decent human being should not be glorified. So, in this case, we end up lowering our standards. This is why when we talk about our expectations, they shoot across the roof. But when push comes to shove, we keep validating basic human etiquette. This is a clear sign of cognitive dissonance which is a phenomenon that was proposed by Leon Festinger, who believed that a number of opinions or thoughts we may have on a matter must be logically in line with each other. Thoughts and their subsequent actions must go hand in hand. Envisaging almost fictitious traits but awarding a medal when a guy goes ‘beyond the call of duty’ or surpasses societal expectations by dating someone who is not a size 2, is not something that needs to be lauded. In times where everything that exists is casual in nature, it sure is appreciated when people go the extra mile. But excessive exalting for simple things like speaking against notions of sexism, racism or even opposing basic toxic masculinity demeans and devalues the whole social construct revolving such important issues. It does deserve respect just not idolization.

To attain consonance, we may need to change our outlook on what we expect or we could stop applauding every miniscule ordinary action taken by people (including but not limited to men). A balance needs to be formed between what we want and how we act towards it. Even though sanctimoniousness runs deep within the society, do it for the sake of your mental peace. Instead of using these sources of entertainment as a source of escapism, use it to stimulate and organize thoughts that roil inside your head.

Preesha Choudhary

Delhi South '24

Just your average teenager who loves books, food and music. And then some. She is an English major, her life revolves around reading for college, reading to sleep, reading to procrastinate etc. If you are on her page, she already likes you. Be like her. Read a lot.
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