So I was reading an article the other day, and at one point it quoted this scene from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones:
“When she went to the stables, she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest …”
This is a man writing a woman’s POV. Not to knock on the esteemed Mr. Martin, but I this bit goes right to the heart of one of the problems I had reading Game of Thrones, and in general a problem men seem to have writing a female POV.
I’m not a woman*, and never have been. But I’m fairly certain that they don’t go around hyper-aware of the size and movement of their breasts. And, I mean, it’s not like Mr. Martin has his male characters walking around thinking about their penises and how they move in relation to their pants. Of course not.**
And it’s not like it’s just Martin. Lord knows plenty of men-writing-female-POV have done that sort of thing.
I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I’ve tried my best to write female POV as well and as honestly as I could. Maradaine Constabulary is roughly half in Katrine’s point of view, and at no point in the book does her chest size come up. I just did a search of the manuscript, and the word “breast” never appears. Nor any appropriate (or inappropriate) synonym.
Now, did I get a female point-of-view correct? I hope so, but I probably screwed something up. I do know that my critique group, which is mostly female, didn’t tell me, “I think you need more breast thoughts. Not once does she think about how her breasts feel.”
*- As a white, middle-class, heterosexual, average-height, able-bodied, areligious, right-handed male, I am pretty much embody every aspect of cultural privilege. Always something to be aware of.
**- Mind you, if one is writing porn or erotica, then have at it. Have everyone hyperaware of their sexual characteristics. That’s the point, in those works.