Writing Strong Female Characters

So what does the term Strong Female Character mean to you?

It seems it has become something of a marketing tool, something to be used when a writer or producer wants to make sure that women are adequately represented in film or fiction. According to this article, a lot of female characters are cast with just that in mind rather than any actual purpose to further the story. A female character is portrayed as feisty, strong-willed and full of beans, only to be cast aside without a second thought when the real hero of the story comes along to save the world.

There is always an element of surprise when a female character does something that would be a matter of course for a male character. Why is it so unusual for a girl to choose her quest over her love interest? Why is it when she is the one with the powers, he has to show her how to use them correctly? Why is she so caught up in the intensity of her feelings for him that she gets sidetracked from her mission?

Is that how we see women in real life? As seemingly strong, but always ready to throw their own ambitions aside when the right man comes along? I hope not.

Because I see strong women, young and old, all around me. So it shouldn’t be so difficult to write characters who are real women, with real fears and weaknesses, but also with the strength to overcome them. And maybe the young girls who are reading about these characters will see their own reflection in them.

Helicopter Parenting: How much is too much?

Week 36: Helicopter Parent
Week 36: Helicopter Parent (Photo credit: WilliamsProjects)

As parents we often have to tread carefully to avoid stepping on the fine line between good parenting and over parenting. How do we know when enough is enough? Is there a magic age when we can say that we have done all that we could for our children and that the time has come to step back?

I thought I was a helicopter parent. I hovered in preschool, in elementary school and would have continued to hover in high school if I had not walked into that invisible wall as my oldest daughter went off to her first day. It wasn’t an actual wall that stopped me…it was a look of sheer horror and embarrassment on my daughter’s face as she realized that I was stepping out of the car and following her. That look stopped me in my tracks. I realized that I had gone as far as I could. I stood outside her school like an abandoned child for a few minutes, before it hit me. This was it. No more greeting the teacher as the kids walked in and hanging around the classroom if they needed parent helpers. Apparently, once your kids hit high school, parent helpers are synonymous with the plague. I realized that I needed to get a life of my own, hence the desire to start a career as a writer. Also, I had some time to transition since I had another child and her teachers to harrass for a few more years.

Which brings me to the article  about helicopter parenting. Apparently it is a real affliction. It seems that there are parents out there who haven’t heard of the invisible wall I was talking about. And if they did, they may have just crashed through it anyway. I’m not judging because I know I’m just as guilty of hovering, but I do draw the line at calling my children’s prospective employers or future university profs. But extreme hovering tactics aside, when do we let go? Do we deprive our children the benefit of our experiences and failures and allow them room to make their own mistakes? Is it hyper-parenting to want to spare your child the disappoinments that you have faced and give them an edge? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that it is a daily struggle to decide when to step in or back off. After all, it is our children’s future that’s at stake.

Emotional Baggage: Carrying the Weight into Adulthood

I read an article today and it made me think about this: how much of our experiences as teenagers do we drag around with us through our adult lives? People who are bullied, emotionally and physically, often carry their scars well into adulthood. Some build a social network as adults so they feel supported, while others shy away from people they perceive to be part of a clique. How many of the choices we make as grown-ups are the result of emotional baggage from our high school years?We experience some of the most crucial turning points in our lives only after high school. Marriage, childbirth and career choice all play a major role in the kind of person we become. So, the big question is: are we doomed to be haunted by our teen angst forever or can we reinvent ourselves?