How do you write as the opposite sex?

When writing erotica, it usually becomes necessary to write the thoughts and actions of the sex opposite that of the writer. That can be a lot of fun, but it’s also possible to turn the plausible into the impossible if the writer doesn’t have at least some understanding of how and why the opposite sex thinks and might act. There are several references available but I have a favorite that I use.

In 1992, a relationship counselor by the name of John Gray wrote a book titled “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”. In the book, he explains why men and women sometimes have trouble relating to each other and how to mitigate those troubles. It’s a good read for any author because it sheds some light on how the thought process of each sex differs.

The book received both kudos and criticism from psychologists. Most of the criticism centered around the idea that people think and act as they do because of social conditioning rather than biology, i.e., men are supposed to be strong, women are supposed to be caring, when in reality, they both want and are capable of doing the same things. Many feminists are of the same opinion, and believe that women only need be afforded the same opportunities and respect as men in order to prove that. Be that as it may, a lot of the information in the book is very easy to see in real life.

Most psychologists believe that our different ways of thinking stem from the dawn of man. Men were the physically larger of the two sexes and therefore adopted the role of hunter and defender. Women were smaller and since they were the gender who conceived and bore children, carrying and caring for children fell on their shoulders. Their role tended to be more of the gatherer and caretaker. As a result, our brains evolved differently.

Making generalizations is an invitation to an argument, but there do seem to be some general traits unique to each sex.

Men tend to be single-purpose at any given time, and aren’t really cognizant of things other than the goal at hand. Science explains this as the evolution of the male brain to be able to follow game on the hunt without being distracted by other things. Women, on the other hand, gathered fruits, roots, and plants while caring for children and the sick and injured, so they evolved to be able to do one thing while still seeing the rest of the world around them.

It is a proven fact that women use their peripheral vision more than men. It’s also well known that women do better than men at the baby shower game where several items are covered by a cloth. The cloth is removed for a short period of time and then replaced. The game participant who remembers the most items wins. Almost always, the winner is female. This is because men tend to concentrate on one item at a time, while women tend to scan and remember many items. They developed this skill so they could recognize a sought-after plant and it's location among a field or forest of many others. It also helped them to recognize slight changes in the behavior of children and the others they nurtured so they could detect a change in physical condition that might indicate an injury or disease.

Men tend to navigate by direction. That direction might be the position of the sun, moon, or stars, or just instinct, but it’s a straight-line direction regardless of the terrain, not the landmarks women often use to guide themselves. That’s why some women have difficulty reading a road map, but don’t have any trouble at all navigating the maze of aisles in a department store. Women go to the purses, turn right, walk to the women’s shoes, turn left then right again, and walk to lingerie. Men want a straight path in one direction from start to end and if there is none, we get confused for a while.

Women also treat anger a lot differently than men. If you make a man mad, he’ll likely become pretty hot until the source of the problem is removed and then he’ll forget about it. Women aren’t quite so lucky. When a woman becomes irate, she’ll forget about why once the problem is solved, but her body is still physically upset. That makes her brain remember that she’s still angry and she’ll direct that anger to anyone or anything nearby.

That’s why more than a few men have come home to an angry wife and asked themselves the question, “what the hell did I do to deserve this”. He really didn’t do anything. He’s just enduring the fallout from something else that happened to her. The best he can do is to listen and be sympathetic until it passes.

Men solve those problems in ways that differ from women as well. Men tend to logically look at a problem, decide upon a course of action, and then do it and see what happens. If that action fixes the problem, great. If not, it’s time for another analysis and another action.

If that still doesn’t solve the problem, men will go do something else for a while so they can forget about the problem. Then, they’ll come back to it and approach the problem from a fresh point of view. That’s why men play golf, fish, and watch sports on TV instead of fixing things…well, that’s as good an excuse as any.

Women tend to not want the problem solved as much as they want to get understanding and support from others. They do this by talking about the problem rather than formulating a plan to eliminate it, and they’ll call several other women to do so. Women are very adept at talking. Girls learn to talk sooner then boys and women say more words in the course of each day then men.

Women don’t stop thinking about a problem, and sometimes they don’t forget even when the problem gets fixed. That’s why men keep hearing about how they ignored that funny noise the car made for three months before it left her stranded at the grocery store ten years ago.

Men and women view what happens in a relationship differently as well. A man who buys his wife a new washer and dryer when her old machines still work just fine will think he’s done something good. His wife just thinks he’s given her a better way to do the work she already has to do. She’d rather have been able to get fixed up and taken out to dinner.

A man who buys his wife diamond earrings for her birthday thinks he’s been caring and generous and marks up his scorecard with a bunch of love points. His wife thinks he was kind and generous too, but she marks her scorecard with one point, the same number of points she gave him for taking out the trash and fixing the leaky faucet. With men, it’s how big and when. With women, it’s how often.

Men tend to organize the spaces around them. We’ll spend hours building tool boards for the garage so every wrench and hammer has a designated place to be. In the bathroom, we’ll have a designated place for a razor, comb, and toothbrush. We carry our golf clubs around in a special bag with tubes for each club, pockets for balls, tees, and gloves, and probably have an umbrella strapped to the side. We do that so we don't have to spend time looking for things when there's something to be done.

Women often organize their areas on a “there’s an open place where it’ll fit” basis and then promptly forget where that open place was. Their bathrooms will be a hodgepodge of body wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair dryers, and other assorted stuff, often in multiples. They carry their lives around in purses as big as a man’s overnight bag and can’t find anything in them without either rummaging for five minutes or dumping the whole thing out.

Unless your guy is pretty in touch with his feminine side, he’s probably not going to wonder if his shirt and pants really go together and if your girl says anything about it, he’s going to say “what’s wrong with stripes and plaid together”?

If you girl says she can’t find her keys when she’s certain she put them in her purse, have your guy check two places first – the lock on the front door and the table where she usually lays stuff when she comes back from shopping. That’s where I usually find my wife’s keys. If they’re not in either place, have him suggest she dump everything out of her purse. Chances are the keys are in there, just not in the pocket where “I always put my keys”.

There are many more examples of these differences, and they’re gross generalizations, but more often than either sex would like to admit, they’re valid. The point is, when I write the thoughts and actions of the opposite sex, I try to think about the differences before I write.

So, what is your method of writing as the opposite sex? Leave a comment so we can all learn.