I recently walked into a bookstore with a pocketful of change…. and two hours later walked out with nothing. I am laughing here, my hubby doesn’t believe me. He is still looking under the mattress and…. in the dryer for all my top-secret purchases. I don’t even believe me, but it is quite true. I just found myself so fed up with popular literature, I couldn’t get excited about anything.
It’s me, it’s totally me. There are billions of books in the world, more than one can ever read, but my restless soul just cannot settle down long enough to get interested. There are some buzzwords on jacket covers I really dislike, words like green, sustainable, diversified, alpha anything ever, and “strong female characters.”
Because I cannot even wander aimlessly about a bookstore like a crazed cat lady stalker without taking the time to deliberately offend someone, I stopped to ask the girl, “So do you have anything with some weak female characters?”
This of course did not go over very well, as the shock, confusion, and offense passed over her face before she managed a tight smile and a curt, “no.” Kind of funny, I looked up and out the window at that very moment and satan actually walked by. He was just a man with horns and a red cape, a cold and soggy looking man at that, but clearly dressed as satan.
I had to smile, because actually seeing a giant frog…..or even satan himself walking down the street in these parts is not all that unusual. We’re very tolerant here…..but not necessarily so tolerant of those seeking the authenticity of some genuinely weak female characters.
What do I even mean by such things? Well, isn’t it rather insulting to have “strong” placed in front of “female” as if we must now differentiate? Isn’t that just incredibly redundant and rude? Doesn’t it also just scream, the female characters is this book are so not like all the other women, you know, all those limp wristed, wimpy, soggy plates of pathetic femininity we have all come to loathe and despise?
I mean call me naive, but I thought “strong female” was just a given?? What woman is not strong? And really when the world attacks, I’m pretty sure it could care less about you presenting your Strength Credentials anyway. “Listen up world, I’ll have you know, I am actually a strong female character, so thou shall not mess with me…?” Does that even work?
Call me crazy, but I have had far better success with total surrender. Just exploit that human vulnerability of sheer laziness and potential boredom. See that crazy woman over there? She is just so not worth the trouble. I don’t even want to burn needless calories walking over there. Of course, that’s not a very glamorous role, but if you are actually interested in avoiding as much conflict as possible, it is effective.
Trust me, dressing up like Kill Bill and walking about with a chip on your shoulder, lamenting all the attention you are getting, is not nearly as effective…
What is with this whole idea that “weak” is somehow the same thing as “bad?” Don’t our stories all begin with a moment of weakness? Isn’t it our scars and our struggles that make us unique? Isn’t it our defects that tend to build our character? How can I even empathize with one of these two-dimensional, plastic characters who walks about like trained prize-fighter in stilettos? Like, I totally question the judgment of anyone wearing a tank top in 40 degree weather, anyway. Chasing bad guys in heels is even worse.
I find my soul longing for all those limp wristed, wimpy, soggy plates of pathetic femininity, those ones we have now all come to loathe and despise, the ones who have lost the battle and then lost it again, the tangled mess of scars and suffering now carved in the creases of their eyes……and on the back of their hands. I long for those characters who have traveled over unpaved roads, who have fallen out of the truck completely, perhaps even been left behind on the road somewhere, those who a have learned how to apologize for nothing…. except perhaps the terrible female sin of “looking a mess.”
I knew one of those women once, she’s passed on now, a woman who was dying in a hospital and the first words out of her mouth when I arrived, “I’m so sorry, I look a mess.”
“You’re dying,” I told her.
“It’s no excuse,” she said sternly.
Exactly. It’s no excuse. So, tidy yourself up this instant.
That’s what truly lurks in the heart of a strong female character. The other kind is not “sustainable,” they are not real, because they chase a pocketful of mumbles, a lie that has deceived them, misled them into believing they must reject who they are inside because it is not as valuable or worthy, because it is “weak and vulnerable” and soft and feminine and therefore “bad.”
I cannot simply while away my days reading books because I feel this pressing need to drop kick that demon of all foolishness in total Kill Bill style, that cultural narrative that has tried so hard to steal away the truth and beauty of what girls really bring to the table, in all their glorious …. weakness.
A “weakness” can be a flaw, defect, and deficiency, but we so often forget the other part, the most important part of all, the part that tell us a weakness is also related to a fondness, liking, partiality, preference, love, penchant, soft spot, predilection, inclination, and good taste.
Wake me up when I can look about at a world suffering from an abundance of love and an excess of good taste……