Strong Female Characters

“So, why do you always write these strong women characters?” asked by journalists.

“Because you’re still asking me that question.” Joss Whedon


I’ve seen this quote quite a few times. I loved Buffy and watch it whenever I catch it on television. I also had the hubby buy the ‘seasons’ after the show ended that were published in graphic novels. I loved that Buffy could kick ass, be a girl, be vulnerable, be strong, and do it with or without a man at her side. The men who stuck by her were the ones who had no problem letting her take the lead. Plus she learned that she could still be kick ass while allowing those men to help her.

I’ve seen a trend lately where women, mostly, applaud authors who write stories where the woman does it all – no man needed.  While that may be a reality for some, I don’t think it’s a reality for all. For that to be the case, they would have had to grow up in Themyscira with the Amazons. According to the world population clock, the current ratio of men to women is 50.4% to 49.6%. (numbers based on physical sex at birth)

Here’s what I don’t like. Telling authors that their stories aren’t realistic because the woman ends up with a man. Well, I write heterosexual romantic fiction, so it doesn’t have to be completely realistic, it’s not about couples who aren’t male-female, and it’s about falling love. It’s what I like to read, what I’ve experienced in life.

I’ve seen too many instances where people are saying they won’t read so-and-so because that author has the woman hooking up with a man. They say things like: Why can’t she be independent? Why does she have to get married? A woman is just as strong as a man. Look at Moana. She didn’t end up with a man! No, she didn’t, but I’m pretty sure Maui was male and he helped her achieve her goal.

Now, before you call for my beheading on social media, hear me out. If you are the type of woman, or were raised by one, who didn’t need anyone of the male persuasion to help shape you to be the person you are, bravo! BUT That’s your truth, and your upbringing. I’m not saying that a family needs one of each sex to raise a healthy, happy, well-balanced child.  I’m saying, don’t disparage those who did, who do, or who want that for themselves.

I’m all about females having equality, but it feels like we’re trying to push the gamut to where it’s only fair FOR females. I saw a quote that I think is appropriate. I paraphrased but the idea is still there. Fair is not everyone having the same thing, fair is everyone having the same opportunity to achieve the same things.  We have access to damn near everything, at least in the United States and other so-called First World countries. Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t individuals still trying to keep people out of certain places or certain jobs. Fight against those instances. It also drives me crazy that we have to make men look stupid or bumbling or idiotic in order for us to look smart. Here’s another quote, “Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine brighter.” – Anon

Why do we feel the need to bring down others in order for us to rise? In my stories, the women face obstacles, they are helped by men, but I try to make them equal in the fact that they are both flawed, they both must work in the relationship, and they both make concessions to the other for the relationship to work. There’s no lengthy miscommunication. The characters work together. Rarely do I have an alpha male because in real life they don’t appeal to me, but I also refuse to have a male who simply rolls over and takes orders from the female. Those people do exist in real life, but rarely are they happy or in a happy relationship.

I found this blog post while looking for the quote above. Maria More says it so much succinctly than I did. “Being successful doesn’t have to come at the cost of someone else’s downfall. Remember, there’s room for everyone to succeed. You can stand tall without standing on someone. Don’t let competition cause you to compromise your integrity. Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine brighter.”

This is a subject that I’ve thought a lot about but was frankly a little afraid to talk about given the rabid nature of social media lately. We’re beginning to accept mob mentality where it’s acceptable to tear a person to shreds because they voiced an opinion that differs from our own.

I know my opinion will not be popular with others, and that’s okay. It’s my opinion. I’m not trying to force anyone to change their opinion. I’m just asking that you read what I’ve written, think about it, then go about your daily life. If it makes you think about something a little differently, then go make the change you feel necessary.

Being a strong woman is a great thing. Doing so at the expense of others…not so much.

Melanie

 

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