Wednesday, November 12

Why we need strong women and damsels in distress

There's this debate that constantly goes on in the blogosphere--we need more Strong Women! There are tests to prove how Strong a female character is, whether she talks about something other than a guy, if she has her own plot and character development, and so on.

Because the last thing we need are Damsels in Distress, who exist only to be rescued. If a girl needs saving, she's no longer a Strong Woman! She should always save herself!

These people never talk about romance novels, which do damsels in distress hardcore. While romance heroines are sometimes spunky, usually they're sighing, lonely flowers, wishing for a big strong alpha male to come along.

In my newest book, Wraithblade, I ran into this problem and chewed on it for the whole book. It's an urban fantasy romantic thriller about a nascent assassin, Revi, who flees the other assassins rather than murder a child. She encounters Jacob Argent, consummate retrieval agent, who then becomes her protector as three different factions attempt to take them both down.



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But does Revi need protecting? I waffled a lot. One the one hand, she's a trained assassin. On the other hand, she really needed somebody to watch her back. Doesn't everybody? She does handle herself pretty well, making daring escapes and rescuing Jake when he gets into trouble.

Jake needs Revi to watch his back, too, because he's in just as much hot water as she is. He winds up saving her a couple of times, too. He's also a caring, sensitive guy (which is a good thing).

So, Jake and Revi both exhibit elements of Strong Women/Men, and also Damsels In Distress, because they each technically need rescuing from time to time. But who came up with this "strong person" metric, anyway? Shouldn't it be more of a spectrum? In real life, nobody needs saving 100% of the time, but nor can everyone go it alone 100% of the time. We swing back and forth.

If our stories and characters are going to be realistic, we have to let our characters swing, too. I read an article where the author gnashed their teeth about Black Widow in the Avengers movie, how she was the "token female". Yet in the movie, Black Widow swings from being vulnerable to being tough. Back and forth--like a real person.

Nobody every complains about male characters. I see very few male characters who are alpha-male-beat-the-chest all the time. Men are vulnerable, too, and that's how the audience connects to them emotionally. It's why girls swoon over Loki. I don't ever hear anybody complain about Loki being strong or weak. He's vulnerable, and this connects to us emotionally.

Yet as soon as a female character is portrayed as vulnerable, that's not allowed. That's Damsel in Distress. Yet without that vulnerable humanity, she's one more cardboard cutout of a chick with a sword.

So, in a way, Revi is a Damsel in Distress. She needs saving from a lot of things. But so does Jake.

Maybe, at its heart, that's what this debate is about. "I can save myself! I don't need a Savior."

Sunday, June 24

Lovely Sunday

Our heatwave of last week broke this weekend, and it's been in the 80s. This morning feels more like the 70s. It feels so wonderful on my skin as I'm doing my chores.

Everybody's moods are good, everybody's healthy. I really don't have much to complain about. I've been working on Power of a Praying Wife, and it's helped my mind so much. I hope it helps my hubby, too.

Tuesday, June 19

Thankful Tuesday

It's almost Wednesday, but darn it, I'm going to finish my Thankful Week if it kills me! Hopefully it won't kill me.

So, I'm thankful for ...

My husband's wacky sense of humor.

My short story that got accepted for publication, and the horrifying amount of edits it came back with. But this is a great educational opportunity to see the weak places in my writing. So I'm thankful for harsh editors, too.

Bathtime for babies.

Homemade fruit leather.

Spotify, where I can listen to all the music that died on cassette tape years ago.

My ipod with its ereader app.

Jules Verne, for entertaining and educating all at once.

And many, many more, but that's all for now. And it didn't kill me.

Monday, June 18

Thankful Monday

Happy Monday, everybody! I know Mondays aren't usually happy days, but I can be happy on them, right?

I got the apartment all cleaned and nice this morning, and now I'm wiped out. I've been trying not to run the air conditioning until after noon, at least. Yesterday conquered me (it was 106), and today I wimped out, too, even though it's only 100.

I tell you what, I am SO thankful for air conditioning. I was going down the list of how people used to cope with hot weather, and our houses just aren't designed like that anymore. Like houses with adobe walls, or houses with big screened-in porches where you could sleep outside. Outdoor kitchens. If the power grid ever failed (like if we had a solar flare), we'd flee our modern houses in droves.

I like the play the Apocalypse Game and wonder how we'd do things without power and running water. It's kind of like having a Zombie plan. Except I don't believe in zombies. I'm an athzombiest.

Other things I'm thankful for:

A refrigerator with a freezer.

A crock pot that I can stuff full of beans and forget about until the beans are cooked.

A husband who I can discuss Minecraft with in extremely serious ways and he takes me completely seriously. (If you play Minecraft, two words: nether strongholds. If you don't play Minecraft ... you should.)

My son, who is delighted with the random little comics I draw him with his vocabulary words, and will not get up from the table until he's colored every panel.

My daughter, who draws pictures and makes babies out of legos and runs around with a cat tail hanging out of her pants.

My other daughter, who is just learning to talk and who says the sweetest little almost-talking baby words.

Sunday, June 17

Thankful on Sunday

Today has dawned hot and sunny. It's almost like it's mid-June or something. Oh wait. :-)

Without further adieu, I'm thankful for ...

Pancakes.

Kids who like pancakes.

A husband who likes pancakes.

Hot weather and the way it smells. (Hot grass? Hot concrete? What is that smell, exactly?)

Beans. Especially pinto beans, which actually cook in a couple of hours, instead of red beans, which take me exactly 3 1/2 days to get somewhat soft.

For the nice lady who talked to me last night at McDonalds. I'd taken the kids down for a snack and to run around in the play place. The lady was a nice Hispanic lady who was there with her grandsons. We sat and laughed about the kids running wild.

Everywhere I go, people look at my three munchkins, smile and say, "You've got your hands full!" I always smile back and think, "What will they say when I have four? Or more?"

That's when it'll become antagonistic, I'm sure.

Everywhere I go, I notice people with only one kid. Is that the "oops" kid? It's always young couples, so I'm betting yes. I almost never see larger families. Three kids is about the limit. Even Hispanic and black families don't have that many. California is weird.

Edit: Also, just had to be reminded that today's our sixth anniversary. Oy. I hadn't even thought about it. We're beat from this week, so we'd only planned to lay around the house all day. Happy anniversary to us and Father's Day to my hubby!

Saturday, June 16

Thanks on Saturday

The munchkins broke my camera, so alas, no pictures. I'm trying hard to be thankful anyway.

I'm thankful for ...

A job interview my husband had today.

A nice morning playing legos with the munchkins.

That plums make such excellent fruit leather.

That naptime is so routine that nobody questions it.

More later!

Friday, June 15

Thanks on Friday

Just continuing my thanksgiving journal this week.

I'm thankful for:

My loving husband, who figured out how to string a clothesline through the living room for me.

And he doesn't complain about clothes hanging everywhere.

My munchkins who will eat even creepy green guacamole as long as there's chips.

For my sweet sensitive baby, who cries when her siblings get yelled at.

For silly building block games like Minecraft, that let me scratch that right-brain itch.

For all those lovely fruits and vegetables that are on sale right now.

More to come!

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