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Monday, August 22, 2016

GUEST BLOG: Strong Characters by Elaine Cunningham


Last week, Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming event.

I want to be an inspiration,” she said, “but I would like there to be a day when it is not ‘Simone the black swimmer.’ The title of black swimmer suggests that I am not supposed to win golds or break records, but that’s not true because I train hard and want to win just like everyone else.”

Sounds reasonable.

It also made me wonder what the protagonists of Hath No Fury would say if you could stick a microphone in their faces and ask them what it was like to be a “strong female character.”

A fighter might show you the calluses on her hands and tell you stories about her countless hours of training, about battles won and lost, about people and causes worth more to her than her own life.

Interview a bard, and she’d probably sing a ballad about the fighter. She sees herself as the storyteller, not the story, yet her path requires its own sort of courage. She has calluses on her pride as well as her fingertips, and she knows the price for speaking inconvenient truths.

A wizard might tell you about her years of intense study, but more likely she’d just turn you into a newt and tell you to come back when you got better.

Strong characters” are strong because they build strength of mind, body, and character by doing difficult things, day after day after day. They make decisions, take action, learn and grow. It’s the same process whether you’re male or female, elf or dwarf.

I would like there to be a day when we no longer talk about “strong female characters,” because that phrase suggests that females aren’t supposed to be strong. But for that day to come, we need to reshape the cultural narrative that assumes femininity and strength are opposing traits. We need to tell and read stories of women who do difficult things, day after day after day. Eventually, we’ll have one description for all characters who make decisions, take action, learn and grow:

STRONG!

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Official Author Website

GUEST AUTHOR INFORMATION: Elaine Cunningham is a New York Times best selling author who started out writing in the Forgotten Realms universe. She has several releases and has been part of a few anthologies. She currently lives with her family in Rhode Island.

1 comments:

C.T. Phipps said...

Joss Whedon answered it best I think as to why we need books like these:

[["So, why do you always write these strong women characters?"

Because equality is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women. And the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who is confronted with it.

We need equality. Kinda now.

"So, why do you always write these strong women characters?"

Because you're still asking me that question.]]

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