I have found men are easier to write. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because the role they fill is more defined, even with all the cultural change in Western Society (and there’s been quite a bit of it).
I wish I could say I’ve figured it out and here’s a handy list of things to avoid when creating a female character. The problem is, everyone has a different measuring stick.
Let’s take the character Yuuki from Vampire Knight as our example.
There’s a lot of people who dislike her. For almost the entire story so far she’s been dumb, ineffective, contradictory, weak, and let’s not forget the fact that even though she claims to love one man, she continually longs for her childhood “friend” who actually means quite a bit more to her than she realizes.
That’s according to one yardstick. After a while of listening, you realize the ones who feel this the strongest often have a real disdain for the “damsel in distress”, with good reason. They like female characters that take charge or at least take action without relying on a man to save them. She can still have emotions but they never overwhelm her actions. She’ll do what needs to be done without whining about it.
I tend to agree with a lot of what those who hold that yardstick say. And yet, I love alphas.
And the best way to show off an alpha is to have him rescue the heroine.
It’s very easy to turn the heroine into a damsel in distress at that point. Lois Lane is a prime example of this (and here I’m going to talk about the 1978 movie version as that’s the one I’m most familiar with/enjoyed most). I mean, did we ever see her succeed in her role as a journalist? Never! Did we see her struggle as a woman in a man’s world? Never! As for intelligence: glasses hid Superman. Yup. Very smart reporter.
This character did not exist except as weight for Superman’s arms.
I know they tried to make her strong. They really did. She talked tough, she seemed aggressive enough, but in the end, she was a waiting damsel, not a partner.
I have next to no respect for Lois Lane as a character.
I have lots of respect for Kagome from Inuyasha. She gets thrown back in time and not once does she cry, pout, or whine. And yet, the first time we see her interact with the hero, he has to save her. She’s just not strong enough to defeat the monster on her own. The beauty is, she realizes this on her own and actively chooses to be saved. As the series progresses, we see her working by his side, using her natural talents to help him reach the goals they share. She’s his partner.
This brings us back to Yuuki. There are some who don’t mind Yuuki at all. She succeeds in areas that matter to them (her sense of justice, her kindness, her determination, etc.) As for me, I agree she’s not all that bright. From the way she’s written, I think that’s intentional. But what’s interesting about her is that even though she gets saved fairly often in the series, as time goes on, she gets stronger. It wasn’t just Zero fighting the villain at the end of the first arc. Yuuki managed to hold her own against him as well. She’s a flawed individual, but one that’s actively trying to improve. That’s one of the reasons why, even though she annoys me at times, I’m still willing to read her story, to the point of enjoying it now and then. When she stops growing is when I’ll stop reading because that means she’ll never be anyone’s partner. She’ll just be another princess waiting to be rescued.