Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Girl Power Stories

I not-so-very-recently went on a mini road trip to Chicago with my friend Theresa for an event at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville. (Dhonielle and Zoraida's Belles & Brujas tour, which was super fun!). And while we were heading home, Theresa had wondered why there were so many fantasies with patriarchal societies, why there were still so many where women are not equal to men. After all, if we can write anything, why do we resort to creating a world where the gender we choose or were born with is inherently inferior? And here's my answer:

I think there is something so uniquely satisfying about women characters rising up against the binds of their world and smashing the goddamned patriarchy.

Maybe it's a product of what our world is like, of what we're still fighting for in today's society. As a (male) coworker said to me once: it's equal now. But it's.... so completely NOT. If it were equal, a woman would be able to get voted into the highest office in the country just based on her merit and experience alone. If it were equal, women wouldn't feel burdened and terrified of speaking out against those who harm them. If it were equal, the intersections of people's lives would be better understood. And society wouldn't be so binary.

And because of that, I think that's why you see so many patriarchal fantasies. It's so hard to live and breathe and survive in this society, and not wish it were different. It's hard, especially since the election, to feel like we're getting anywhere. It feels like, for every one foot forward, there's something else that knocks us back two. And that's especially true for women of color, disabled women, people of different genders, anyone who is marginalized. It just keeps beating us down, over and over again, with no respite.

But it's not that we can't write anything different, or that it's somehow easier to capture because it's lifeI think it's just a timeless story. The villain getting defeated by a girl who was just ordinary. Or one who was not-so-ordinary. Or girls fighting back against non-magical powers and people who just want to silence their voices. Bonus points if they can kick ass, but that's not necessary. Any woman who fights, no matter the means, is a heroine in her own right. Any person choosing themselves makes them a goddamned warrior.

Of course, I would LOVE to see more fantasies where the world is equal from the start. Where women can be Queens without needing men to give them heirs or rule by their side. Where women can tell their truths and not get shamed or killed because of it. Where marginalized people can live their truths without dying for them. I think those should be written. They ARE being/have been written. I think they're just as needed, just as important. Because sometimes it can be tiring reducing ourselves to this again and again. 

I even have one of those myself. A Rapunzel-inspired mental health exploration with a magical world that doesn't conform to the patriarchy. But the rest of mine, so far, are still set in a society that doesn't value women as much as it does men. Because through them, I want to write girl power stories that make you feel inspired and empowered. That remind you that it can be done. I want to write about angry girls who grab a sword and fight their way to the top. I want girls to be able to BE angry without having to justify themselves.

I want this classic story, all the time, in every possible way. ❤️

How do YOU feel about these kinds of books? Do you also wonder and wish for better SFF worlds? Let's talk! :)

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