For a long time, I couldn't accurately describe why this was. I'm still not completely certain I have good words for it. But Robert Jackson Bennett has come close to helping me make it coherent.
If you don't read the blog, the summation is that men tend to find it harder to write believable women because, societally, men aren't expected to empathize or otherwise connect with people different from them, especially with women. In a single quote:
Boys today can blossom and progress and learn to put together prose in a pretty satisfactory manner without ever understanding what the everliving fuck is going on in the minds of half the population.
It's not just men who have trouble relating to women well enough to write them believably.
Our media, our very society, is still struggling with where to place women on the ladder of humanity.
Are we more important than illegal aliens or undeveloped fetuses, or are we little more than breeding stock who can't make our own decisions on our health, finances, and how to live our lives?
Every week there's some new story about women getting fired for being too attractive, or being treated as "rapebait." Women have been brushed aside in politics despite their amazing displays of passion about women's issues, and are told "not to make a big deal" about sexual assault on college campuses.
Women are routinely shown as little more than arm candy for a hero, and an unacceptable amount of movies and books fail the Bechdel test.
All of these unacceptable treatments of women burrow into the minds of not only men, but women, as well. One of the major tropes of fantasy books includes a group of three or four men (with maybe one woman who nearly always ends up being the love interest) going on a quest together. It's getting better and we're getting stronger female characters, but we still have a long way to go.
While we women might have a better idea of what's going on in our own minds, we're still keenly aware of what society thinks we ought to be doing, and I think that can often trickle down into our writing.
Obviously, this isn't the case for everyone, and I might just be a special case. I'm not ruling out that possibility.
I think it's really our job as writers, creators, artists, and human beings to work toward representing more diversity in our work (gendered and otherwise; personally, I'd love to see some really good transgendered characters). We should be studying and talking to people and learning what makes other people tick, and then writing them down for even more people to read and understand.
Art brings the world together. We have an obligation to make that world a better place.
As I said earlier, I'm not exempt from this pitfall of finding it difficult to write believable women, and I am a woman. But my current protagonist is female and I'm going to start trying to change my world with my art.
Because this crappy treatment of half of the human race has got to stop. And the process has to start somewhere.