Monday, March 21, 2011

In Which More (Possible) Coal-Raking Is Mentioned

Daniel Abraham mentioned a Blake Charlton post on writing strong women.

I thought: Hey! Awesome! Some good food for thought!

So I read Charlton's post and found the series it went with.

And started to feel uneasy.


Here are some quotes from the series...

Glenda Larke:
Forget the weaponry and the magic, ignore the leather and the karate; you don’t need any of it to write a strong woman protagonist.
Kim Falconer:
Finally we have the wo-man, which are male characters with breasts. Nicole Murphy mentions this in her post. The wo-man is written exactly as a man with all his interests, attributes, entanglements and characteristics except he/she has sex with male characters. Interesting. Starbuck, in BSG, the gods love her, is a good example. Wo-man to the soul. Is she a strong female character? Not really. The subtext here is, to be strong you have to be a man.

It seems our society lacks the language and conceptual insights, given the patriarchal inheritance, to write strong autonomous women without props.

"Potential coal-raking ahead!" cries the lookout from my mental crow's nest.

Both Kat and Mouse use weapons, wear leather, and, while they don't know karate, they were taught how to take out their opponent in unarmed combat.

Given that, they may be wo-men.

Back to the subtext that Kim Falconer mentions above: "to be strong you have to be a man."

As the Duo would say: "Crap and a half."

But two posts from the series set my mind at ease.

At least for the moment.

From Helen Lowe:
I believe that writing strong women is all about writing diverse and true-to-life characters. So long as an author is focused on that, and on observing the nuance of human behaviour and avoiding cliché and stereotype, then I believe she or he will write great characters, some of whom may be strong and inspirational women and men. Others again may be weak, fearful, dishonest, vindictive, petty or self-serving—because that, too, is part of the gamut of human experience.
And from Philipa Ballantine:
I do look forward to seeing more and different types of strong female characters. They should reflect the women we know in our real lives- their personalities should be as diverse as all of them. I think there is still plenty of room to develop. Though I confess, a woman with a sword is still one of my favourites!

A woman with a sword (or a gun) is one my favorites, too.


  1. That's just silly, bro. There's nothing manly, nothing sexier in this world than two women walking around town, shooting everything up and stabbing people in the face. Just MHO

  2. Most true, sir.

    And I finally came to my senses so all is now well.