Friday, February 1, 2013

Big Girl's Broken Heart

A very serious topic...

So, Mrs. B., I was reading some articles recently and as a strong role-model and a librarian, I thought we should talk.

These two articles depress me:

I always wanted to be a strong woman like my mother when I grew up and I always complained about the lack of strong female characters in the stories I wanted to read. Sure it was great that there were strong male characters, but for the most part, like in the Middle Earth stories, a strong female is far rarer than a weak one. It's part of why I started writing, to give myself that character archetype to read. Then, Buffy came out and I was so excited. But, there haven't been many since. Especially when you look and see how pervasive characters like Bella Swan are. The Katniss-to-Bella ratio is painfully small, and these are things our young women are reading and watching on the big screen. And I'm not okay with that.

It breaks my heart, but it's the reality of the thing is that whether you're talking games or books, those strong females are still mostly missing. Sure, you get to play as Fem-Shepherd in Mass Effect, but as the lady said, how often in a Sci-Fi setting does that actually happen? Fantasy games have been getting better at that, but more often than not the armor and weaponry are still unrealistic -- clad in little more than a chain mail bikini, your dungeon-bunny goes bouncing her unnaturally proportioned body through the Underdark, and by the power of Greyskull, manages to take hits that would put down a rhino. Or maybe it's the magic of that braziere.

And, trust me when I say, my sister the archeologist complains just as loudly about Lara Croft as she does about Indiana Jones.

As a female writer who loves reading and writing in a male-dominated set of genres, I'm not okay that this is the advice that almost is needed to be given in order to succeed in the field. We live in a different world from the one my mother grew up in. Even the one I grew up in. We've had female astronauts and female Secretaries of State. There have been female Prime Ministers. We live in a world emboldened by female scientific pioneers like Sally Ride, Jane Goodall, Marie Curie, and Ada Lovelace. And these are no longer whispers behind closed doors, but people that we know and can learn about.

Yet, we not only hesitate to give ourselves fictional heroines that live up to that light, we instead give ourselves the exact opposite; offer our daughters the exact opposite on a regular basis. Female genre writers are almost thrown back to eras past where women like Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley and others were relegated to publishing anonymously because the menfolk couldn't take the idea of a woman publishing a creative work.

I think I'm going to take February to give those stronger ladies I know some love and talk more about this.

Much Love,