I have to admit I rolled my eyes at this “big idea”. Perhaps this would have been a big idea in the 70′s. Now, I haven’t read the book but I’m thinking “teenage, steampunk Charlies Angels.” And at first I thought what would be really daring would be a book in which women don’t have to kick butt to be respected – women who sew and knit and drink tea while wearing pretty dresses, and I swear I’m not just thinking this because I’m “old”; I was thinking pretty much the same thing when I was a teenager in the 70′s and the notions about what a woman should be started to change.
But of course it’s a novel and a novel about women sitting around sewing and knitting and drinking tea while wearing pretty dresses wouldn’t be very interesting. I honestly can’t think how anyone could make it interesting. It’s just that, in the history of female role models there’s only ever been one kind of role model at a time. At one time a woman who was very good at all the domestic arts was considered a good role model. Now Hot, butt-kicking women are the role models. Why can’t we have more than one kind of role model? Why does popular culture have to present one certain kind of role model and say, “This is what you should all admire and aspire to be”?
I do give Ms. Kress points for a couple of things though.
On the off-chance that the FMC does have female friends, they are often represented as frenemies (I really hate that word). Relationships between women are evidently supposed to be catty, manipulative, and just all-around unpleasant. By contrast, there is a beauty to men’s bromance. It is held up as an important and wonderful thing, whether it be a Fellowship surrounding, say, a piece of jewelry, or someone to whom you can say I Love You, Man. But the female bond is derided, considered a necessary evil. Something to mock. It’s actually why I believe so many women love bromance books and films. We so rarely see our own friend relationships represented as high-quality and fulfilling, that we relate better to watching the way male relationships are represented.
You can imagine my shock when one day it occurred to me that my considering typically feminine things less important meant that I was perpetuating a pretty darned sexist attitude very common in our society. There is a notion that things that interest men are more worthy than things that interest women.
I decided to embrace the part of me that was more feminine. And doing so meant also embracing it in my book. Nellie loves being girly, loves playing dress-up, loves sparkles. None of this takes away from her ability to be strong, intelligent and get the job done. In fact, I truly believe her more girly qualities enhance these three powerful ones. Quite frankly I think she’s an utter delight. If I do say so myself.
So maybe I’ll read the book. It’s YA, far from my usual thing, but I’m a bit curious.