What life is not like when you are a woman

Yeah, I’m reading lowest-common-denominator sci-fi again. You know, the kind of stuff where an omniscient narrator tells me repeatedly that a female character is sexy and desirable, even though 1. I thought it was “show, don’t tell,” and 2. I am never, ever going to want to have sex with your female characters, so please stop trying to make me.

Anyway, I thought I’d toss a couple of reality checks out there:

Reality Check #1: Men will NOT make major sacrifices for a woman just because she is cute.

It’s one thing for a teenage boy to “loan” soda money to a cute girl. It’s another thing for an adult man to risk execution or give up enormous wads of money for a woman he barely knows just because she's pretty. Teenage boys (and teenage girls, for that matter) have the high hormone levels, poor impulse control, and lack of life experience that makes them vulnerable to all kinds of sexual exploitation.

Adult men, as a rule, have it a bit more together. Even if they are willing to trade favors, they tend to be more skeptical. The women I know who profit financially off male sexual impulses do not simply bat their eyelashes, because that stopped working back in high school. They put out, and they make it very clear that they are willing to put out in exchange for X and Y. It’s about as subtle as any other fee-for-service arrangement.

Also, think about what you’re having them trade, and try to keep it within reason. Call me cold, but I don’t think there are a lot of men out there who would be willing to risk a bullet in the head in exchange for a blow job.

Reality Check #2: Sexual abuse is NOT normal.

The first time I was sexually harassed, I was 12. The first time I was offered money for sex, I was 14. I’ve been sexually assaulted; stalked via phone, on-line, and by foot; and sexually harassed at work. I have dealt with all manner of perverts, from frotterists to Peeping Toms.

These are not everyday occurrences. If they were, trust me, I would never leave my house, which I would have long ago outfitted with large and sturdy locking metal shutters. It’s not the majority of men who do this sort of thing, or even a large minority—it’s a small minority of unfortunately quite industrious individuals. In fact, a lot of men (especially those without a lot of life experience) respond to stories of sexual abuse with utter disbelief, because they would never do that sort of thing and can’t imagine that anyone else would.

Which is unhelpful, but anyway, my point is that if you’re going to have a female character be sexually abused every where she goes, there needs to be a reason for it. She’s a hated outsider, the institution she’s interacting with is profoundly dysfunctional, something. Otherwise it starts to read like maybe you get your rocks off on that sort of thing.