I’m very excited to welcome Loralee Evans to my blog today! I met Loralee on Goodreads a few days ago, when she was kind enough both to read and review Spindle for me: and such a lovely review, too! She also helped me out with a spot of trouble I was having on GR with some very timely and sensible advice, and then compounded her kindness by agreeing to guest post on my blog.
Loralee is a writer of historical LDS fiction and MG fantasy, which you can check out at her Amazon Author Page here, or on her website, here. I’ve also interspersed her blog post with book covers and links, so if you’re interested in a book, just click on the cover.
That’s it from me! Over to Loralee, who is talking about Strong, Independent Women in Fiction.
Women In Fiction: A Study
I want to thank W. R. Gingell for letting me be a guest author on her blog. We met recently on Goodreads, as I had recently read her book, Spindle, which I loved immensely! One big reason why I enjoyed Spindle so much, is because I like books where female characters are portrayed as strong and independent people who can take care of themselves if need be. They can be soft and caring, but at the same time, they can stand up for what they believe, and they don’t need men to define them as individuals. They do what they do based on their own consciences. They don’t need to act in reaction to a man.
Unfortunately, I’ve also had the misfortune of stumbling upon stories that are not that way at all. I have little use for stories where one character, almost always the female, seems to be completely dependent upon the male character to define her and give her purpose. Not only is such a viewpoint unrealistic, it is downright dangerous to the impressionable minds of young people, girls in particular. (Though the objectification of women is certainly damaging to boys’ thinking as well.)
Sadly, far too many authors and far too many movie makers are forgetting or perhaps deliberately ignoring the idea that female characters can be strong, brave, and moral in their own right, and act in reaction to their sense of right and wrong, rather than needing a romantic relationship with a man to motivate them or define them.
One dangerous, insidious idea that both movie makers and book writers have developed, is to introduce what appears to be a strong female character, but immediately upon her introduction, a male character falls for her. He often harasses her sexually, which we the audience are expected to interpret as funny and flirty rather than what it actually is, (verbal abuse, and sexual harassment) simply because the male character is young, hot, and white; a free get out of jail card. Thus, he can act how he wants, without the audience realizing anything is wrong. The female, of course, sometimes after a half-hearted comment regarding his rudeness, falls for his sexual harassment, and from that point on, everything she does is in reaction to him. Many people reading or watching such a combination of events are not even consciously aware of the dangerous ideas this is teaching to society. But in reality, such thinking is very toxic and dangerous. Especially to young impressionable people who can’t differentiate between reality and the forced, choreographed actions of movie makers and book writers who can, with their writing skills, minimize or completely take away the consequences of this type of dysfunctional behavior that would, in the real world, result in an abusive relationship.
As a mother of daughters and of sons, I want them to read books that portray the heroines and heroes as truly heroic. As strong, independent characters who do their best to do what is right simply because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want to read about perfect characters, because no one is, and we can’t relate to perfect people. But I want to see an honest effort. I want my daughters to know they can, and should, have the strength to stand on their own two feet if need be. I want them to look for the right men, the kind that know how to treat a girl like a person, rather than like property. I want them to know that if a man treats them with any degree of disrespect, they have the right, in fact the obligation to walk away from him without a backward glance, without an explanation, and without another comment. I want my sons to learn that being real men doesn’t mean controlling others, it means treating fellow human beings, male and female, with decency and respect. I want them to learn that if a girl is not interested, she does not owe him an explanation. I want them to know that real men take rejection with grace, and know how to accept personal responsibility.
Because of this, I try to find books, and to write books, that teach these things. Because, let’s face it, we learn from what we read. Even when we’re consciously aware that it’s fiction, what we take into our minds affects us for worse or for better. I hope to be one of those who influence people for the better.