It’s very important to me in my work that female characters are human, fully-developed, and have just as many quirks, flaws, and moments of strength as the male characters. I make sure, too, that my male characters have moments of vulnerability and–the good ones, anyway–do not subscribe to traditionally “masculinist” ideologies. That’s one way I mark a villain, in fact. If he’s sexist, he’s probably not someone I want the reader cheering for. I am not compelled to read or write work that fails to meet these basic criteria. I disagree with undermining characters’ objectives, success, and autonomy based on their gender, and in order to avoid appearance of such, I try very hard to make sure this doesn’t happen accidentally, even if the plot might dictate it.
Do I fail at times, even as an avowedly feminist writer? I’m sure I do. Patriarchy gets its mitts in society all over the place, so deeply entrenched that we don’t always notice it. But I think I’m getting better at portraying the kinds of women I want to read about, and I hope readers appreciate that I’m making the concerted effort, especially in genre fiction where (woman warrior tropes aside) female characters are still not always treated with the same level of respect as male characters.