Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Women in Literature

Recently, I began questioning the motives of one of my characters.  Not because it wasn’t a natural motivation, but because I was worried about my portrayal of her as a woman.

I’ve been reading and watching comments about the portrayal of women in media.  They’re considered too weak, too focused on relationships and their own feelings.  Society thinks that women need to be strong, to be able to fight and excel in whatever field they put their mind to.

I have no objections to that.  I think that it’s a good thing that women are given that opportunity. It could be considered a compliment that we can do anything we want.  But what happens when a woman’s desires aren’t focused on a career or a political cause? 

My character was focused on her family, and wanting to keep them safe. Sure, there’s an element of romance, but in the end, all she wants is to be there for the children, make sure that they grow up correctly, and that they always feel loved.  I began to wonder if it was an appropriate goal, or if I would alienate readers because her fight and focus is only on family. 

I presented my question in a forum, and received an answer that made me smile.

The responder mentioned Molly Weasley.  I think she is really one of the unsung women heroes.  I hadn’t even stopped to give her a second thought.  But she’s always been there, taking care of her many children, struggling to provide all their school supplies, sending them howlers when they disobey, taking in their friends when they were alone … and of course, there will always be the moment that she killed Bellatrix to protect her family.  An act that I don't think anyone would doubt her character would do.

And as I considered the powerhouse that is Molly Weasley, I realized how many other women I’ve met who are really the unsung heroes in society.  We can all find articles about women who are CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, but how many articles focus on the women who put family first?  The women who could be earning a large amount of money, but instead decide to spend their time with their children, stretching their budgets, and sacrificing their own needs and desires so that their children can take dance lessons, or have enough equipment to play soccer.

My own mother was an example of a woman who was willing to sacrifice so much for us.  I wish that there were moments that we’d stopped to thank her, but many times, her sacrifices weren’t as obvious as they could have been. 

I think we need more women in literature like Molly Weasley and my mother.  We need strong women who are willing to take a stand and create a better future for their family. 

Can any of you think of such women in literature?