You know what I see when people rag on our female characters?
I see them ragging on females. PERIOD.
Your character is strong and confident, she takes the reins and rides her own horse, saves her own ass.
Someone, somewhere is going to think she's manly. She's a bitch. She's not relatable. She's too tough.
Your character is possibly a bit weaker than her male counterpart (or maybe just pretends to be), the perfect damsel in distress, waiting for rescue.
Someone, somewhere is going to think she's pathetic, weak, and the perfect Mary Sue. Or, more currently, she's Bella Swan. She's soft.
You know what? When I read Twilight all those years ago, I loved Bella Swan. I related to her. She was just like me when I was that age.
Stupid decisions, chaotic, all-consuming love, mistake after mistake after mistake . . . ME.
Damsel in distress, where's my handsome prince? Who will rescue me now? . . . Oh, look at that, ME AGAIN.
So who's to say that the only female lead worth reading, worth relating to, rooting for, loving, becoming, is a strong, kickass heroine who takes no prisoners and doesn't need no stinking man? (Sorry, Troop Beverly Hills reference there.)
Why is she the only thing readers/reviewers/editors/publishers/agents seem to want to see these days?
That's not who *I* relate to. That's not who *I* was as a teen. That's not who *I* am now.
So what's the deal?
I'm the mother of a young girl, so I understand the need, the desire to raise strong women. REALLY, I DO. But you know what? That's real life, not stories--hat's MY JOB AS HER MOTHER. If she wants to read nothing but fairytales where the beautiful, flawless Princess gets rescued every. single. time by the handsome prince, SO BE IT. It is my job to teach her the difference between fantasy and reality, fiction and non.
I want her to read books where women are real. I want her to read books where women are flawed, be that whether they are too strong, and don't let anyone in because they're so busy proving themselves, or they are weak and rely on a man to save them. Or, maybe they're somewhere in between. Maybe they can rescue themselves but choose not to. Maybe they cry too much. Maybe they flip-flop between lovers. Maybe they make so many stupid decisions, its hard to love them. Maybe they never know which end is up. Maybe they dwell, spin on negative issues that arise. Maybe they push past them quickly and with ease.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
MAYBE THEY ARE JUST WOMEN. Women who love, laugh, cry, hurt, lead, follow . . . exist. Maybe they are just beautiful women for all their faults, all their magic, all their strengths.
Because that's who I am. That's who my daughter will be.
Flawed, magical, strong, weak, beautiful, sad, happy, loved, scared, fearless . . . WOMAN.
This post started because of a mini Twitter rant I went on this morning. I'd seen a tweet that irritated me for the simple fact that it ragged on what many think of as a typical YA trope: "girl meets boy + girl needs saving = boy comes to rescue." (Um, PS, I love this trope.)
My first tweet read like this:
"Ugh, seriously. So tired of people judging books (esp YA) because the female lead isn't a badass who saves herself. NOT ALL OF US ARE/WERE."
And the tweets continued, and your responses were awesome, and I love you, and I am clearly not alone.
I want to close out this post with a recent bit of feedback I received recently. I'm going to change the names, because it can apply to SO MANY of our books/manuscripts"
[male lead] was the rescuer and [female lead] doesn’t play enough of a role in her own salvation.
Guess what? ME AGAIN.
And you know what else? Just because certain things didn't happen for you as a teen, doesn't mean they didn't happen for others. Just because you don't "need" a man in your life now, doesn't mean other women don't.
And don't think for a second that those of us who love the gushy, romantic notion of being rescued can't rescue our damn selves. We just don't care to.
I won't judge you for killing your own spiders, so don't judge me when I scream and wait for my husband to come running.
So, shoot me for this rant if you must, but PLEASE stop ragging on female leads.
You're essentially just ragging on WOMEN.
Where's the feminism now?