This post is approximately 450 words. Some of them are Joss Whedon’s.
When people hear I’m writing a book, they’re usually curious about the story. Of those who survive the tempest of enthusiasm that results from a writer describing his work, many are surprised that I’ve chosen a thirteen-year-old girl as my hero. A quick glance confirms that, yes, that answer came from a forty-something man.
And while people are intrigued, I can tell that some are searching for a way to politely comment on the oddity of a forty-something man writing about a teenage girl. Yep, I get it. Looking at many movies, video games, and comic books of the last few decades, they can be forgiven for expecting that a fantasy story will feature manly men and scantily clad women in impractical armor. And while I admit I’ve enjoyed some of those things, the world doesn’t need more of them.
Quite the opposite: we need more tales about strong girls and women to counter the unnatural misogyny that pervades our culture. I believe so strongly in this, I’ve spent the last 18 months hunched over a keyboard, trying to bring these types of characters to life.
It reminds me of a meme featuring writer/director Joss Whedon. I’ve seen variations over the years, but they all say this:
I love this quote. It speaks to the ridiculousness of the question and the mentality behind it. It’s not that idiots are asking, rather it’s people who aren’t thinking critically. To Joss, it’s like someone asking him how he walks across the room: he simply walks across the room. And people marvel at the novelty.
They marvel at the novelty of a strong female character. In the 21st century. Sigh.
The quote is probably nearing ubiquity, so I doubt people are still asking him. But the mentality hasn’t gone away. I see it online daily, and sometimes it seems like we’re going backwards as a society. It feels like people are desperate to hold onto an unfair gender advantage.
To combat this, we need more strong female characters in every kind of storytelling. I’m putting my money where my mouth is by devoting my book series to this. I want to contribute because it’s the right thing to do. I want to hand my nieces the first book and tell them I wrote this with them in mind. And I want to say the same thing to my sons and nephew.
I want my readers to understand, as Joss so eloquently put it, that “recognizing somebody else’s power does not diminish your own.”
Take 8 minutes to watch his wonderful speech:
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© Michael Wallevand, June 2017
Wonderful piece–I didn’t get a chance to watch the video (hope to sometime). The premise is one of these “well, duh…” things, at least to some of us. And my hope is the same as yours with respect to our younger relatives. I think your sister has achieved her dynamic in this regard.
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