Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Legacy of Strong Women

During this time of reflection and thankfulness, I look back on the people who have made an impact on my life and the list of honorees are too numerous to mention. I credit the men in my life for making me fearless and keeping me humble.  In particular, my husband and my son have allowed me to lean on them when time and circumstances overwhelmed me. They had the uncanny ability to refill my reserves when I felt drained and empty. But the strength I drew from them is quite different from the strength I drew from the women in my life. Women are often the unsung heroes of fiction. And it is for that reason that I have chosen to represent strong female protagonists in my writing.

It is the special bond between mothers, daughters, and sisters that ultimately shape the women we become. Unfortunately, when the bond is broken or weak, so is the woman.  Without a strong woman in her life, a she often turns to a man to provide the strength she needs.  Unfortunately, this type of relationship can ultimately lead to subjugation and dependency. (I realize that this is a generalization that may not be true in all cases, but for the sake of argument, bear with me.)

I also believe that we are all are strongly influenced by the culture of the times in which we come of age. At the risk of sounding trite, women have come a long way from the 1970's "either/or" vision of women as housewives or career women. We have even realized that the 1980's view of the superwoman who could actually do it all was completely unrealistic.  Today, the men in the relationship no longer feel threatened by "women's work" and they eagerly embrace their roles as fathers as being more than merely a biological function. With this in mind, I like to place my female protagonist squarely in conflict with the historical and political culture of the times.

As I look at the women in my life - my mother, my sister, my daughter, and my daughters-in-law - I am thankful that they are all strong women and that the times in which we live celebrate that fact. They are not only capable of standing alone on the strength of their own independence, but they have made the men in their lives stronger because of it. They are equal partners in their relationships and will settle for nothing less. This is the legacy they will pass on their children.


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