Heroines that kick ass!
Updated: Mar 21
The heroines I was fed as a little girl were passive. In fairy tales and (some) romance novels, alike, the heroines waited pliantly and suffered before they found happiness. All hoped for a man to ride in on his white horse or motorcycle (depending on the century of the story) and change their lives for them.
More alarmingly, the women of these stories were portrayed as seemingly enjoying the abusive behaviour of their would-be-husbands, controlling boyfriends, or kings.
The bad relationship was presented in these stories as… well, ‘good’, because it was a RELATIONSHIP and little girls who are brought up to play weddings with pillowcases on their heads and practise being mummy with their baby doll are also brought up to expect a man to save them, to provide for them.
While I might have been sold this narrative, I didn't buy into it.
“You had the power all along my dear.” —Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
I love to read romance novels but that doesn’t mean I switch off my twenty-first century self and embrace those concerning tropes I just mentioned.
I don’t want to get home from a chaotic but satisfying day at work to read about a damsel in distress that needs saving, nor do I want to nail that presentation only to pick up a book about another woman made rich by marrying a wealthy man with questionable morals (although, let’s face it, having money in a romantic novel – whether the cash belongs to the male or the female leads – takes out some of the daily grind I read to escape!).
I don’t long for a re-telling of Rumpelstiltskin, or Rapunzel, or Cinderella when I search for a new e-book. I’m with Dr Ana Jones in The Guardians’ Trust: Ana (book one) when she thinks about these fairy tales. No way should a heroine marry a ruthless maniac just because he’s king!
In The Guardians’ Trust Book 1, Ana refers to a Liz Lochhead poem called Rapunzstiltskin. To read this wonderful poem in full, click on the link.
I want to read about strong women. Professional, educated, confident women. Women who have passion for their career, who take care of themselves and then, yes, comfortable in their own skin, standing on their own two feet, they take the passion and love on offer because it suits them – not because they need to.
But as much as I know what I want, I also know what I don’t want. I don’t want a heroine who’s a caricature of what a strong woman looks like – one that embraces all the worst traits of masculinity.
Every day, I’m surrounded by strong women: doctors who are mothers, business leaders who are compassionate, professionals who are unapologetic in their femininity. These women don’t try and change who they are to fit into another stereotype. They are smart and successful and – yes – feminine.
“I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
In my first paranormal romance series I have done my best to create women I’d like to be friends with. They are intelligent, fun and strong: doctor, vet, survivor or soldier (for Greenpeace and the British army!). They all have passion and guts. They are all strong. They are all ‘real’ women.
I care about them all… I hope you will too.
You might also be interested in the blogs: For the Love of Shapeshifters, Paranormal Romance Books & The Alpha Male and Paranormal Romance Books: Strong Females & Consent.