|Yes, she's strong...Image courtesy of Marin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
But I'm seriously troubled. Over a year and a half ago, I started Strong is Sexy. I featured women of the past and heroines of the week--which you've seen a lot more of.
I edited an anthology called HerStory, featuring brief looks at women, brief moments in different women's lives from all walks of life and eras of our history. Yes, they were SHORT stories; yes, they felt like excerpts, because that's how I wanted them! BRIEF LOOKS INTO THEIR LIVES.
I digress. The point is, when I made the call-out for this anthology, I said, STRENGTH COMES IN MANY FORMS.
Being a woman requires strength and a woman's strength comes in many forms.
There were women who immigrated, faced the unknown, striving to give their children a better life. There were women who picketed the White House and were thrown in prison, merely for wanting to have a say in government. There were women who stood by king and country to help wage wars, fighting for either their religion or their people. There were women who quietly refused to move from buses to break the "color barrier." There were women who wrote poems, inciting revolutions that would be an inspiration for generations to come.
Without these women, you wouldn't be here. Each one, whether she fought with words or with swords helped make this world possible for you. She faced down adversity for YOU. She earned rights and made waves and got that vote for YOU.
But I failed in my mission. I failed to convey this. Terribly. A year and a half later, I get emails from authors that say, "I don't think you'll like my book. It's not a strong heroine."
"Um, why not? What's wrong with her?" I ask.
"Well, she isn't wielding a sword. She's not kick-ass."
First of all, I appreciate a sword-fighting heroine very much, but as I said above, STRENGTH COMES IN MANY FORMS. When my mother fought breast cancer and won, she was strong. When my grandmother left an abusive home and made her own family, she was strong. When my aunt went to work every day and faced discrimination against women, she was strong. When I went fought for the right to wear my hearing aid at work, win or lose, that took a lot of strength from me.
None of them or myself had a sword.
|And so is this woman...|
Image courtesy of Praisaeng/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Do I love kick-ass heroines? You bet I do, but I also see strength in all kinds of novels. I see strength in women every day.
And while I'm on the subject, what makes a woman sexy? I failed in this too. Too many authors still think by sexy I mean tits and ass. "My heroine has a great body..."
That's not what I mean by sexy at all.
Your heroine could have an ass the size of a brick house and be sexy. (I have no problem with asses the sizes of brick houses. I just didn't know how else to convey what I'm trying to say here.)
Why? It's what is INSIDE that really makes a woman sexy. Is she confident? Does she love who she is? Does she have compassion?
Show me a movie-starlet lookalike half naked, sticking out her tongue, strutting in a tight dress--whatever. I don't care. That's not sexy.
Show me a "normal" woman with tired but kind eyes offering a rare smile or showing her teeth in a laugh in some random moment in which for just a second, her troubles melt away...that's sexy.
And because I've failed in my endeavor, April will be the last of Strong is Sexy. I'm beyond tired of people not "getting it" and I don't feel I'm advancing my agenda here, or the cause of women, period.
Happy International Women's Day, ladies. Not many of you are wielding swords and even fewer of you look like Jennifer Aniston, but you're strong and sexy. Remember that. Remember what strong and sexy really is and quit letting television and yes, even books, dictate otherwise.