Thursday, 16 August 2018

Reconciling Rescue Fantasies and Feminism

For those who read this blog regularly, it's no secret that I love kickass heroines who are strong and take no crap.  I love reading about them because it counteracts the messages that women often get that they need to be quiet, unassuming and not cause trouble.  And because they're just fun and it's fun to fantasize about taking on any problem with amazing powers and a witty quip.

But as much as I enjoy my take-no-prisoners heroines, I also enjoy a good rescue fantasy.  There is something incredibly appealing about a hero who is willing to rip the world apart with his bare hands to rescue the person he loves.  However, it does leave me with something of an internal conflict.  Shouldn't a kickass heroine be able to rescue herself?

I believe that it's important to encourage women to see themselves as the powerful and strong individuals that they are.  They shouldn't be encouraged to wait for rescue like an old fashioned fairy tale princess.  Instead they should be encouraged to believe they can take on their challenges themselves and rescue themselves.  That belief runs counter to the idea of a rescuing hero fantasy and it meant that every time I enjoyed one, I wondered if I was celebrating something that was actually encouraging women to be passive and less than they could be.

Lately, I've wondered if I've been mistaken and allowed myself to get trapped into either/or, black/white thinking.  

The rescue fantasy isn't about celebrating passiveness, it's about recognizing that no matter how powerful, competent or kickass someone is, life can have a way of dealing out more than that person can handle.  And it's taken me a depressingly long time to figure this out, but no one should have to go through life alone.

Partners come in all shapes and sizes and commitment levels.  Some partners will do anything to help the person that they love and others find it a challenge to do little things like take out the garbage before it gets picked up.  A lot of women are dealing with overwhelming situations, trying to balance work and family, trying to take care of both children and parents, trying to make money stretch, and dozens of other difficult scenarios.  And quite often, they're doing it without a lot of support from their partners or society in general.

Is it any surprise then that the idea of being helped can resonate so strongly with women?  The rescue fantasy is about someone who will do anything to help the person that they love.  They will risk injury and death, throwing aside everything else that has ever mattered to them because their highest priority is the health and happiness of their beloved.  It's not a farfetched assumption to believe that a person who is willing to charge through a hail of bullets would also be willing to put their glass in the dishwasher instead of beside the sink when asked.  

I still think it's important to encourage women to think of themselves as heroines and able to rescue themselves, but I also think they should be encouraged to believe they deserve a partner who will put them above all else and who will do what it takes to make sure they are happy and fulfilled.  So, for now, I'm comfortable with putting both the kickass heroine and the rescue fantasy on my shelf and not feeling guilty about either.

If you want to read about my kickass heroines and the men who would do anything for them, you can give Book One of my Lalassu series a try for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

Previous blog post: Heroine Fix: Be Anyone You Want to Be, a look at Aech and Art3mis from Ready Player One.

And for updates on my writing and life, check out my blog homepage.

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