So a few months ago, I wrote a very negative review of a SFF book that was attempting to write inclusive female characters but ended up being atrociously misogynistic instead. The author was apparently baffled by my response and actually replied to my review, asking what he'd done wrong. I began writing him a full breakdown of the truly awful things he had said and implied about his female characters in his book, but the list was so long and probably so antagonistic-sounding that I figured it wouldn't do any good to send it.
Today, though, I found an article on Tor.com that addressed a lot of my issues with this guy's writing. So I wrote him a response at last, linking the article and adding what, in the end, is the core problem with his character writing as well as so many male writers' portrayals of ficitional women:
In short, all I can say is... would YOU want to be any of your female characters? Do any of them have that "cool" factor that your male heroes do? Are their story arcs as fun and empowering as your male characters' arcs are? Do they have friends or young people who look up to them and admire them like your male heroes do? Or, to flip it around, if you could be any of your characters, who would it be? If the character you end up picking for each of your books is a male character, are you starting to see what I mean? There are uniquely interesting things about women and women's lives/thoughts/actions that you can't see or appreciate until you REALLY learn how to empathize with women and your female characters. In short, until you can see what's actually *cool* about women, you're never going to write women characters who are anything but baggage and one-dimensional tripe.
Also, please don't judge women who are sexually promiscuous as somehow morally lacking. [Noble-born male protagonist of his SFF book] was getting it on multiple times with a KITCHEN MAID (low-born person, maybe diseased/without proper hygiene), but it's his sister who gets cock-blocked AND judged as a gutter-level slut by [male protagonist] and by the book itself (I think [male protagonist]'s brother literally calls her a "whore" for that? [Male Protagonist]'s the one who was *actually* gutter-diving, but I didn't hear anyone calling him a whore...) when she tries to get it on with a LORD (high-born person, even if he is apparently an *actual* slut who sleeps around).
Anyway, that's way more time and effort than I should be giving a person whose book essentially devalues me and my life, but since you cared enough to ask, here it is. Hope you will be able to grow as a writer going forward.
I tried not to be too harsh, lest my good advice go unheeded/rebelled against. But yeah... wish I could say something like this to all the awful, unconsciously-hostile-toward-women male writers out there...