As a fiction author, occupying various different minds is part of daily life. On any given day I become a werewolf, a teenager, a goddess, a warrior, or a wizard. I’ve never been a wizard, but I have the advantage of not being unique in that limitation. How many wizards do you actually know? So I can’t actually get it wrong.
Sure, I could be the Stephenie Meyer of wizardry and mess up the genre so bad it may never recover from the blow, but that’s a calculated risk. Since I am not basing my stories on my own adolescent wet dreams and anti-feminist fantasies, I’m probably safe.
Recently I was called a feminist. There has been so much talk in the blogosphere lately about feminism and the GOP’s war on women that it’s difficult not to have an opinion on the whole thing, but I don’t know how happy I am making an ‘ism’ out of it. It’s just common fucking sense. I don’t want to live in a world where you get to tell me what to do with my own body and vice versa. I don’t want to live in a world where somebody’s genetic makeup or upbringing can be used as a tool of oppression, as justification for boxing a person into a particular role not of their choosing. So if you believe that some people are better, smarter, or somehow more deserving of freedom and respect than others based solely on an accident of birth, fuck you. Fuck you and the leprous three-legged necrotic donkey you limped in on.
But if this is what feminism means to you, the no-shit-Sherlock concept that women are people, then I gladly accept the term as a compliment and wear it proudly.
As a writer, I don’t know where my characters really come from. They just appear in my head at random moments, whispering their stories to me, and I have no choice but to write them. It’s a curse, really, one I don’t wish on anybody but celebrate when I find in others.
When women from other worlds come to me and tell me their stories, I welcome them and the chance to share them with this reality I’m forced to survive in. The teenage lesbian living in an oppressive Roman Catholic Empire on a parallel universe deserves to be heard, and perhaps a young girl in the ‘real world’ will hear her story and feel less alone. The young woman risking her life for her tribe’s freedom and the love of a princess – her struggle, real or imagined, would be for naught if nobody knew about it. The transgender princess forced to hide her identity needs somebody to be her voice, because she wants to reach so many other princesses in this world.
People need connections, whether we believe we want them or not.
I know I am not really tapping into some sort of other dimension where these stories actually happened, but I can’t explain how the stories come to be. I don’t actively seek them out, and while practice and experience have helped me with the process of discovering the story, it always feels like a discovery more than a creation. Perhaps to know how it works would destroy the magic that makes it happen, so I leave it alone.
Perhaps in a way all stories are true. And it is undeniable that we need those stories, as a people. And just as women and girls need to read about female characters, guys need to read about girls too and become more consciously aware that the so-called gender divide is as thin as a spider’s thread.
Joss Whedon has said it better than I ever could, so I leave you with some of his words:
So, why do you create these strong women characters?
Cause they’re hot.
But, these strong women characters…
Why are you even asking me this?! This is like interview number 50 in a row. How is it possible that this is even a question? Honestly, seriously, why are you — why did you write that down? Why do you — Why aren’t you asking a hundred other guys why they don’t write strong women characters? I believe that what I am doing should not be remarked upon, let alone honored and there are other people doing it. But, seriously, this question is ridiculous and you just gotta stop.
So, why do you write these strong women characters?
Because equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity, we need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality, kinda now.
So, why do you write these strong female characters?
Because you’re still asking me that question.
Watch the full video here: