This article by Maegan Provan is sure to ruffle a few feathers, but she’s right. There IS a disturbing trend in a literature. Maegan mentions Twilight and the Bella/Mary Sue type characters who tell our girls that true love is giving up everything for a man. Even more disturbing (to me) is 50 Shades type books where women swoon over Christian Grey because he’s rich, attractive, and masterful in the bedroom. Never mind that he’s abusive, controlling, and a stalker. That’s okay as long as he showers the heroine with gifts. Friends have told me 50 Shades is romantic and that I have to read to the end in order to “get it.” I don’t want to read past the first book. Christian is a seriously disturbed, abusive individual in Book One. To me, that’s a bit like telling a loved one to stay in an abusive relationship because it might get better later on.
Well, enough about me and my opinions. Let’s hear what Maegan has to say…
An increasingly disturbing trend is rippling through the literary world. It can be seen in both self published novels and traditionally published novels alike. It has the ability to change the way that people all over the world view themselves and others… and not for the better.
I can first remember hearing about “girl power” in the 90’s when the world was introduced to the Spice Girls. Of course, as early as the 1920’s, most of us alive today can recount when we first heard about women’s equality and why females deserve to be treated with respect as opposed to servants who are there for a good lay (trying to keep my cursing down for this post) and to cook a hot meal when the man commands it. Women’s liberation has been a force that’s gained a lot of forward momentum over the years. There are still a few bumps…
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12 thoughts on “You are Good Enough!!”
I could rant for thousands of words on this topic – I’d start with the nit-wits trying to get birth control outlawed and go from there. However, I won’t rant, I will emphatically agree with everything said hear and on Meghan’s blog.
I’ve wanted to buck this trend in my own writing, and finally figured out how to do it about 2 years ago. I know a book that preaches the author’s own platform will not sell, even if it is something as important as this. I guess it goes down to ‘telling’ as in telling a good story.
It isn’t easy writing a ‘girl power’ book, or series, that’s set in the ‘real world’ because we have too many ‘pushback’ forces. The first was making the word feminist into a curse. That has limited the ways we as women writers can talk to the generations coming up. We can’t use the ‘F’ word the way it was used in the 1970’s because it’s been tarnished.
Nor have I found a way to write a ‘feminist’ (pardon the cursing) romance because of the format. There’s not enough wiggle room for me. YMMV There have been a couple of ‘kick-ass hunter’ types of stories that had a strong female lead — until IMO the series devolved. (To each their own.)
It’s finding a middle ground where the author writes of strong females in love, that’s tricky. But I think we, as women, owe it to ourselves to try to find ways to tell our stories in ways that showcase strong females AND the men who love them.
Oh, yes. If I get started talking about the attack on women’s health and women’s rights, I’ll never shut up.
In the quest to introduce “strong” female characters, we often end up with gun-toting Mary Sue’s who eat zombies for breakfast. These strong characters are usually emotionless butt-kickers until the “right” man comes along to tame them. Then their feminine instincts magically kick in and they’re able to knit pink booties AND kill zombies at the same time without breaking a sweat. But they don’t make dinner, because yeah, they’re still “strong and kick-butt.” It’s just a new cliche.
I like female characters who are independent and intelligent. They fall in love because it complements their life, not because it’s what good girls do. Some women don’t want to be taken care of. They don’t need a man to complete them because they’re already just fine on their own.
Uhm – please be easy on the Zombie killers, because that’s what I ended up using. 🙂
It was the best way I could think of to combine horses and women – in a dystopian setting where all the rules were off.
My Bethany makes a point of helping women and children while poking holes in the egos of men who don’t respect her and her sisters.
I understand the frustration with ‘heartless Amazons’ who turn to mush at the sight of some Alpha. Too often we see Sue chase down her man. I think it would be fun for her to ignore him for the first hundred thousand words.
Anyways – I’m writing ‘Horsewomen of the Zombie Apocalypse’ as a purely ‘girl power’ series and having a blast doing it.
It doesn’t really matter what the genre is – it’s all about the story engaging the readers. I wouldn’t want to go too far and have men hate the books, either.
It’s all about balance.
The only reason I mentioned zombies is because it was where my mind went first! I’ve read a lot of zombie fiction. (Married with Zombies is hilarious–there’s romance and zombies. Can’t beat that.) Your book sounds brilliant.
Some authors seem to have a hard time creating strong female characters without bleeding the emotion out of them. If you want to read an excellent (YA) book with a strong heroine, read Blind Sight by Nicole Storey. The story is about the character, not about romance. In fact, there isn’t any romance in the first book at all. And, trust me, this girl can kick some serious butt. She still has a sensitive side, but when it comes to battling evil, she doesn’t mess around. It’s a great books for teens and older, and written by an indie author.
Can’t wait to read your new series. Sounds like exactly the sort of book I like.
I’m just updating the Amazon version to include the announcment of the sequel. It’s free on Smashwords and various vendors…but I haven’t updated those yet.
The first book is a finalist for Best Novella at the e-Festival of Words. So I think there IS a market for more emotionally-mature female fiction.
I think the ‘Bella-Backlash’ is gathering steam because I hear a lot of women writers calling for change. As Indies, we GET to write what we want to read.
The first book is free on Smashwords, look for ‘The Emissary’ Horsewomen of the Zombie Apocalypse.
I just downloaded a copy. Can’t wait to read it. Looks really good!
Great! Let me know what you think about the characters.
I’m struggling with the same issue. My book is about two women, each strong in her own way, who are trying to save the world. Yes, they become romantically involved, but the men are NOT the solution to their problems. They are complications, or at best offer support. And yet, a few people who’ve read it (it’s not out yet, so I’m talking about betas and one agent judging a contest) specifically stated that for the romance to be believable, the men must at least play an equal role in saving the world.
Not sure which upset me more. The idea that women need any male input to succeed is hurtful enough, but “at least” an equal part? “At least”? These statements came from women.
So I was frustrated. At first. Now I’m terribly depressed, because the women who write stuff like this and those who read it seem to think themselves inferior to men. What sad lives they must lead.
That’s terribly sad that there are women who seem determined to hold us back. Why does romance have to show the woman in an inferior, weak position? Why must we have a man to save us in order for romance to be believable? This is not only insulting to women, but to men as well. We’re telling men they’re not “real” men if they aren’t always stronger and smarter than their female counterpart. This is hugely unfair to both men and women.
Keep writing what you write. There are women (me) who appreciate it.
“We’re telling men they’re not “real” men if they aren’t always stronger and smarter than their female counterpart. This is hugely unfair to both men and women.”
I’m not sure which one twists my knickers most – the Submissive Female or the Alpha Male. :-p
I so agree with everything here. I have found it a very disturbing trend as well and one that undermines and devalues women. I grew up having Buffy The Vampire Slayer on TV, as a fictional character, she was a great role model. Yes she made mistakes, but she was strong, independent, compassionate and fierce when needed…and she certainly wouldn’t give up everything including losing herself, for a man. In fact in one episode she even quotes that. If teenagers and young people who like the whole vampire genre (which I think has been done to death – forgive the pun!) want to have a role model to look to, forget dreadful Bella, go to Buffy!!! 😀