Last night, as often happens, I was the only male present in my favorite-ever critique group. These women are all good writers, and even better critics! We laugh with and at each other as we bash other’s writing.
But it cut me to the quick when my friend, who is way more talented than me, gave me her book report on “Von Lagerhaus:” Really liked the book, but was really bothered by my portrayal of women. “Rawanzel and Winnie see their value in terms of their sexuality,” my friend charged. Then, she turned her attention to my submission for the evening, my first draft (so by definition it needs plenty of work!) of “Sages of Westwood.”
“You’re doing it already in Chapter 1 with Divya! You introduce her to us while she’s in bed trying to please her husband! And then a few paragraphs later, she’s jealous of his travel!”
Omigosh. Guilty as charged so far in “Sages.” Repeat after me, “DiGrazie has a huge blind spot…”
But did I paint sexual characatures of women in “Von Lagerhaus?” I pointed out that the character who most consistantly self-worth in terms of sex appeal and activity is the unrepentant man, Mitch Samples. I mentioned Karen’s in-your-face integrity when she has an opportunity to shed her inhibitions – even to the point of putting her well-being on the line when alone with a somewhat dangerous man. “Yeah,” my friend conceded. “That scene was my favorite; really well-done.”
But the cat is out of the bag; I have been accused, and it’s not the first time this group of very smart, very talented women, each of whom I’ve grown to treasure, has nailed me on this point. So I’m taking it seriously. So much so in fact, that I shared the group’s concern with my wife.
“Read “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo,” counseled my betrothed. “Now there’s a male author who really understands women.”
Anyway, I’d love to hear what readers think about my portrayal of females in “Von Lagerhaus.” I’ll never please everyone, but omygosh, now I wonder what your assessment be of Connie Kaminski in “See John Play!” Or of my new friend Divya Breunig, who is supposed to be a hero in “Sages of Westwood?” It’s hard for me to isolate sexuality from the rest of life. Does that make me a lunkhead?