I have a male character who is coming across as patronizing and mansplain-y.
He has several scenes where he tells a (different) female protagonist how she should behave, or assumes she doesn't understand and corrects her. I've been using him as a pretext for exposition, to explain when the protagonists are wrong. I didn't realize it's just about all he does.
In my original draft he was the responsible one, kind of a "dad" who disapproves of their recklessness.
- He assumes one is sexually naive and warns her (she isn't naive).
- He tells the second to stop dressing provocatively around his men (she has been).
- He bawls out a third for taking dangerous risks (she has been).
- He is overprotective (again)
- He casts doubt on the provocative woman's trustworthiness (his suspicions are later justified).
When I examined him as character, I realized I've been using him to say what the reader needs to know, but the protagonists don't want to hear.
"Pull yourself together because [_e_x_p_o_s_i_t_i_o_n_]!"
"Don't trust that woman because [_e_x_p_o_s_i_t_i_o_n_]."
Coincidentally, his advice is perfect and his character is flat.
I want to flip the character, and use the patronizing pattern to discount his testimony against the provocative woman. He has a strong distrust of her from the start, ultimately admits sexual attraction.
He can't be a frothing at the mouth villain or commit overt sabotage – he is still a good guy, but I need to sow seeds of doubt in the reader and stir conflict within the team.
How do I get the reader to see him as misogynist, so sympathy shifts to the woman? Is there a point of no return? Can he regain reader trust once he is vindicated?