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Monday, March 9, 2015

Women's Words Are Never Done

By Alison Bruce

As I write this, it's still International Women's Day... just barely. I was so busy with "women's work" I didn't really have a chance to think about it much until now.

What is "women's work"? Same damned thing as men's work, of course. Take care of my family. Get the work done. Maybe do some dishes - but not all of them. I'm not the only one making them dirty, am I? Besides, I have work to do and a  blog post to write.

When I was in my teens, I described myself as a "feminist but." But not one of the ball-breaking man-haters. But not one of the bra-burning extremists. But...


But nothing. I am a feminist. The haters and extremists are the ones that need to qualify their feminism, not me.
“Does feminist mean large unpleasant person who'll shout at you or someone who believes women are human beings. To me it's the latter, so I sign up”
Margaret Atwood
You don't have to be a woman to be a feminist. Some of my favourite feminists are men. Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse and Firefly, is the perfect example.
Reporter: So why do you write these strong female characters?
Whedon: Because you're still asking me that question.

Joss Whedon speaking about his most often asked question
Nobody has asked me the question. I'll answer it anyway. I grew up surrounded by strong women and I have always tried to live up to that example. I discovered, when push comes to shove, I'm very strong... as most people are.

There's also this strong aversion I have to heroes who like their women weak.

Do you remember Annie Get Your Gun? In the musical, Annie Oakley had to purposefully miss to get her man. Would the real Annie have put up with that nonsense? I don't think so.
“I ain't afraid to love a man. I ain't afraid to shoot him either.”
Annie Oakley
Strong women are acceptable now. How about women who don't fit the beauty myth? When you write romance, or romantic suspense, your heroes are supposed to be handsome and muscular; your heroines are supposed to be beautiful and thin. Okay, we don't want to fantasize about ugly people, and romance is fantasy. I question whether our concept of beauty is as narrow as some publishers would have us believe.

I'm not the only one.
“A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience”
Naomi Wolf
"I really don't think I need buns of steel. I'd be happy with buns of cinnamon." 
Ellen DeGeneres
Women's words are never done... What are your words?

Alison Bruce writes genre fiction. Her protagonists are marked by their strength of character, the ability to adapt (sooner or later) to new situations and to learn from adversity.


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