I stumbled onto an interesting discussion on the dynamics between men and women, submissive and dominant, in romance writing. Brynn Paulin started the discussion and Kim Dare added her two cents.
Both the blogs respond the feminist desire for complete equality with examples of romance. Brynn puts forth the theory that not all women want control. I'm sure she's right... while I plot to take over the world and become Empress of the Universe there are some women who would be happy to abdicate all responsibility. Sometimes I'm willing to jump on that boat, I don't want to decide what to cook for dinner, or where to spend the weekend, but that doesn't happen often.
Kin brings up the idea that submissive in some forms is not the same as unequal. This is very true, although I've never tried her analogy with the handcuffs. Being submissive and meek in one situation does not mean you are unequal or that you want to be a doormat. Part of being strong is being able to bend sometimes. Giving ground Here means you advance There.... think tactics and chess.
Some women are born leaders, they take control, they care about others, and they are possessive, all very alpha traits. But I also write weaker women, not because I think a woman should be weak or meek, but because that is a part of human nature that is as natural as being born a leader. To force all your characters to be strong would be very unnatural.
Science fiction does have the advantage with feminists because gender equality is a general trait of most futuristic societies that get written about. Not all, certainly, but it isn't uncommon to see a woman running a space ship, or a society, or even a having a culture where traditional western gender roles are reversed and men are the ones treated unfairly. Science fiction writers are a lot less likely to catch flak for this.
So, I'm interested, what is your take on this? Should women always bend gender roles a la Allana and Joan of Arc? Or do you prefer to write and read about possessive males and possessed females?
Personally, I prefer a blend. Sometimes the man leads, sometimes the women has to. For characters and books to feel natural to me there needs to be a fluidity to the balance of power. I find it fascinating when an author is able to turn a natural weakness or submissiveness into a character's strength. It can be done, and done well. I do love my alpha males, someone who is willing to be loyal, loving, and devoted. But I appreciate those same characteristics in a female character, although they may come across differently.
Have you ever noticed that? A woman's strength and alpha-ability isn't necessarily tied to her bossiness.
Sometimes the hardest job for an alpha is to support and defend, like the Laird's lady when she was left to defend the keep while he was at war, or the army wives throughout history who have been both mother and father while their husband is gone, the husband who will stand back and let his wife be queen and love her for who she is when the crown is taken off.
Even a coward can lead a charge, but it takes a very strong person to stand their ground against overwhelming odds.
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