The Heroine of Your Life

I love to read. My earliest memories of myself involve carrying books around everywhere I went. That love of the written word, whether in my eyes or flowing from my own pen is strong in this one.

So many books have influenced my over my life. I discovered feminism and matriarchy via fairy tales and myths, stories that taught me how women could and did stand up for themselves, living full rich lives. I learned about the world outside of my own, different religions and human evolution, both physical and spiritual. My entire philosophy of religion was altered forever in my late teens, causing a lasting rift between me and my family, never again allowing us to see eye to eye on the topic. Like I said, I love to read.

Today though, reading along happily through various genres, research for the new story that is flying from my pen, comes some disturbing questions. Who are these books for? The great part about the Ebook revolution is that many authors who might otherwise never get noticed are getting a chance to shine. The bad part about the Ebook revolution is not all of these authors are good. There. I said it.

That is not what's troubling me though. What is troubling me is books where the heroine is in love with a man she is convinced is gay but who falls madly in love with her. This theme bothers me for so many reasons. It's just as bad though when the gay best friend is more over the top than any gay friend I've ever had. (And honey, I've been friends with drag queens, so I know from over the top.)

The stories of women who are plus size (read: average!) who love themselves yet spend the whole book criticizing their body. The ones who are grown yet conducting entire fake relationships with men they've never met and ignoring the ones in front of them. Do women still do that in real life? I always thought that was a high school thing.....

Can someone please explain to me why women my age love reading books about teenagers?

One of the worst of the current wave is the modest-but-secretly-stunning-blonde-with-cornflour-blue-eyes who is forced to sigh as her beautiful, brunette, tiny waisted best friend gets dates left and right. Luckily it turns out that the big, strong, very rich hunk of man only has eyes for the main character.

Like I said, who are these books for?  Why are women writing books for women that seem secretly aimed at men?

On the surface it seems as though many of these female characters are strong, capable, smart. Yet somehow they are disgusted with themselves for having hearts, falling in love or being vulnerable. Even the loneliest among them have a sidekick, often a mouthy best friend or an adorable little old lady. My least favorite of the chick lit lot is the one where a woman has 'suffered a terrible attack/tragedy/savage blah blah' that now allows her to see the light and change her ways.

Maybe this is why it's hard for women today to be the Heroines of their own lives. Being immersed in these books is creating a false sense for us, no better than the magazines that insist we need to be thin, totter around on high heels and learn how best to please a man. Without good strong examples, how do we know that standing on our own two feet is a real possibility?

It isn't a requirement that you be perfect to have a beautiful life. In fact the opposite seems to be true: so much of the juicy stuff will be found in the imperfect moments. Even if your waist isn't tiny, your man isn't rich, you don't turn out to secretly have the beauty of a supermodel. Read with a light heart knowing that the beauty of you is just as it should be. Don't forget to recommend your favorites to me.


  1. Yes!! I recently started reading more trash than chic lit, but still...the characters all look the same, and the plus-sized ONE I read involved a character who didn't think she was beautiful and seemed to be more in love with food. The funny thing is, the thin characters all worked out and food was a part of the back drop. Stereotypes anyone? OH, I could go on and on. The idea of the woman needing to be rescued is alive and well...and tired.

    1. I guess it is up to us to write something that better serves the purpose! Let's do this thing!

  2. My favorite genre is urban fantasy. Vampires, witches, weres - that kind of thing (particularly series: my top three favorites right now are Sookie Stackhouse, Rachel Morgan and Iron Druid - there was a really kick-ass fantasy quartet that I loved called - stupidly, given how awesome it is - the Princess series by Jim Hines who is wildly feminist).

    I also love high fantasy - which is fantasy set in a not-earth world. I also read YA novels, but mostly the fantasy ones (Hunger Games, Eragon and the Percy Jackson series have all been recent favorites of mine).

    Urban fantasy has a totally different set of cliches. (Oh, loving the bad boy vampire that secretly wants to turn you comes to mind immediately. Being super strong and smart but unable to see that the idiot you're schlupping is a backstabbing thief until after he turns you into a demon familiar - don't worry though, he gets his in the end.)

    Anyway, overall, I think in that genre there's a little more feminist thoughtfulness (this may just be my interpretation of it and my habit of reading books about strong, kick-ass women). I've started a few so-called chick lit books and not been able to continue reading. I just cannot stand weight-obsession, beauty-obsession or overconsuming man-obsession.

    Fantasy also has a lot of male lead characters, which I also read a ton of. I'm fairly gender-fluid, so I can relate to both male and female characters.

    I think writing what we want to see more of is the MOST AWESOME THING EVER. So I encourage you to start writing!

    Happy reading!