You know in my most fervent imagination, I’m one bad ass chick. I have thoughts of myself doing all sorts of cool things. I’m not exactly Wonder Woman, but I do possess her Amazonian-type powers. Outside of my imagination, I love reading about super-cool chicks. I am perhaps a feminist, but I am damn sure a womanist.
Of course, my journey into girl power began long ago, and was within me at an early age. She-Ra was perhaps my first great love. Much cooler than her masculine counterpart He-Man, whose somewhat orange coloring during his transformation from his pathetic alter-ego Adam, put me off. What I loved most about She-Ra, aside from her phenomenal good looks, incredible 1980s theme song (which I’ll admit, grown as I am STILL gets me excited) was her storyline. Unlike Mr. Adam, who was a spoiled and rather useless prince, She-Ra was kidnapped as a baby, raised by an evil warlord, and when she grew up, recognizing the evil of this man, became part of a rebellion to overthrow him. Hot and a revolutionary—I dare you to find another cooler feminine icon.
As I grew up, and eventually attended an all-girls Catholic high-school, the burgeoning woman in me, began to search for more refined images of female empowerment. Literature was always a great source, but as I started to write the question arose of where does art and reality meet? There has been a lot of feminist critical analysis and debate about appropriate female representations. Some of these concepts lead to attacks on female characters that do not live up to these expectations. A perfect example of this, is the criticism leveled at the character Anastasia Steele, in the Fifty Shades Trilogy. There were some who felt that she was weak or too frail in her submission to a man. However, I wonder are such criticisms justified?
It is true that as I went through the series, especially toward the last book, I had MANY urges to bitch-slap this girl. Anastasia’s submission to Christian, and unwillingness to challenge him head-on on some significant things, enervated me to no end. And her ability to be so easily distracted by sex made me want to drop-kick her. However, in spite of this, I do not fault E.L. James for her portrayal of Anastasia this way (I do fault her IMMENSELY for using a ridiculous amount of sex scenes as fillers), because in a lot of ways, I did find her to be realistic. Although in my life I have known many no-nonsense strong women, I have also known an equal amount who have withered under pressure. In addition, even some of the strong women I’ve known have at times, shown very poor judgment when it comes to their romantic life, as that is the one area, where people tend to let their emotions override their good sense. A young woman, in her early twenties, who has very little romantic experience, and no sexual experience, ends up succumbing to an older, very good-looking, powerful and domineering billionaire, who has more than enough expertise in exerting control, is not contradictory to the principles of womanhood. It is simply being realistic.
Showcasing humanity, flawed and all, is what in the end makes a complex character. Throughout my series Valdivia and noticeably in the first volume, I try to write women whom I feel are real. There are women in a variety of different positions who hold various degrees of power, and are all uniquely flawed. The most powerful and arguably the most complex, Catalina, is loosely based on Eva Peron. She in some ways encompasses a She-Ra-esque sort of ability in the range of her influence, however she is far more compromised, certainly more corrupted, and as all humans—hopelessly flawed.
This then is the essence behind being woman and roaring. I do not ascribe to the belief that if the world were ruled by women, it would be a far better place. Or that female characters should always possess superior traits of strength and valor. Rather that women should be represented—as is—and left to be, what they can be. In some cases you may get great she-roes and superstars. In others, you can get absolute tyrants, or the simple plain Jane. But in all these things, it is of paramount importance that the woman be allowed to be what she most is—human.