How well do male authors do at writing female characters? And vice-versa? And if you know the author's gender, how does that affect your perception of the characters in the story?
I was wondering about this because of some of the comments I got on my recently-posted novella Orem High. Particularly interesting were the comments of the form "A guy wouldn't say/do that." I'm not complaining, BTW, the comments were very helpful. The thing that struck me, though, was the fact that I didn't get equivalent comments for the earlier segments that were narrated by female characters.
The response is obvious (you may be thinking): as a female, I naturally can write from a female perspective better than I can write from a male perspective. That's undoubtedly part of it. But I think that April, Lynn, and Jill all did/said/thought things that aren't necessarily typical for a girl, and I wonder if people would have reacted to those stories differently if I'd pretended the author was male...
I've done my share of criticizing male authors for their portrayals of women (see here and the comments here). I feel like those particular criticisms were justified, but maybe I'm biased.
Trying to see your (fictional) universe from the perspective of someone who is unlike yourself is a fun challenge. I'm not interested in writing Autobiography of My Years as a Hermit or Me and My Clones -- I want my universe to be inhabited by a variety of interesting people!
Any thoughts on squeezing into unfamiliar perspectives?