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“If Male Authors Described Men in Literature the Way They Describe Women” Is a Gift to Us All

Male authors

The Washington Post‘s Alexandra Petri is a satirical genius and a favorite of The Mary Sue staff. So when we saw that Petri wrote a column that dove into the “how male writers write women” conversation, we knew we were in for something good.

We previously posted about the viral thread that invited Twitter users to “describe yourself like a male author would,” a challenge that drew quite a lot of response. On the heels of this discussion, Vulture published 50 descriptions of famous female characters in screenplays. The descriptions rather drive home all of the points we’ve been trying to make (“SARAH CONNOR is 19, small and delicate-featured. Pretty in a flawed, accessible way.”) 

Petri followed up with yet another brilliant spin on how some male authors write women—by turning it on its ear and showing just how ill-fitting and silly those descriptions would be considered, should they be describing a man. Petri writes with her tongue firmly in cheek, parodying the style of several famous writers and then imagining screenplay descriptions.

(She seems to delight in how Star Wars would describe its men like women—never forget that Petri runs the hugely popular “Emo Kylo Ren” Twitter account.)

Here are a few of my favorite Petri parodies:

George R.R. Martin
Jon Snow’s abs moved imperceptibly beneath his tunic, firm and hard and pale like winter apples that had been harvested, sliced carefully and arrayed in rows.

Ernest Hemingway
He had a butt that looked good. She grasped the butt with her hands. He was a bit put out but not too much. This was how things went between men and women.

2001: A Space Odyssey
The first thing you notice about HAL 9000, a glowing red boob in space, is that he’s a glowing red boob in space.

Star Wars: A New Hope
Luke Skywalker is in his late teens, pretty without knowing it.

You have to read the rest of Petri’s column to see her spin on Tolstoy, Homer, Kerouac, Faulkner, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, and more.

Electric Literature also made an incredibly helpful “Male Novelist Description Generator” in case you’re wondering how a male author might describe you, personally. Wonder no more! Here’s me: “She had a rump like a silken popsicle and I deigned to ravish her.” What did you get?

(via The Washington Post, Electric Literature, image: Pexels)

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