A few years ago I had conversation with a male coworker that went roughly like this.
Me: [Insert Rant. Details forgotten.]
Coworker: “Wow, you’re a real bitch.”
Me: “What the <bleep> did you just say?”
Coworker: “You heard me.”
Me: “Let me tell you something bub, if I was a man you’d’ve called me aggressive, forceful or some other adjective to describe my behavior, but because I’m a woman you label me a bitch.”
There wasn’t much more to the conversation because at that point I threw him out of my office.
We actually became good friends while he remained with the company. But the gist of the conversation always stayed with me. I’ve seen similar situations played out over and over again since then. Aggressive women are labeled with a derogatory term while men who act in the exact same way are lauded for their “tough” stance.
Which brings me to the point of this post. If you’re going to write women characters be mindful of their jobs.
I don’t know if it’s the work environment that makes tough women or if tough women are drawn to, and excel in certain professions. But I do know if you make a female character with a background in any of the traditionally male dominated fields you’d better not make her a wilting flower type or it won’t feel true. At least not to me and I’ll most likely fling the book across the room whilst muttering BS.
That’s not to say all women in those fields are loud mouth, direct brutes like me. I know a brilliant engineer who’s a quiet, mousy type…. until you question her findings, or try to imply she wasn’t thorough. Then her backbone appears and whoa mamma bring a hazmat suit because she will roast your hiney.
So what do you think? Am I right or am I just being a bitch?