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The shape of the onna-hen radical can obviously be represented this way, and in plenty of fonts it actually is, as in the character 好.

While the "correct" way to write it is as a skinnier version of the full-size character, using the strokes くノ一, actual handwriting, especially 行書, sometimes deviates from proper stroke order. Is this one such instance, or would altering the strokes have a negative effect on legibility?

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You may want to look at the guidelines for kanji as mentioned in this post:

Why are there two versions of the kanji for 冷?

The link there is broken, but this is, I believe, equivalent to the referenced PDF

https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bunka.go.jp%2Fkokugo_nihongo%2Fsisaku%2Fjoho%2Fjoho%2Fkijun%2Fnaikaku%2Fpdf%2Fjoyokanjihyo_20101130.pdf

In general, it discusses the existing variant strokes for certain kanji and bushu (radicals), mostly saying that these do not constitute separate kanji.

This may be helpful, but I don't think it directly answers your question.

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