As a kid, I remember having to hunt for strong women in fiction, and not the long-suffering, taking care of my plague-infected children while my husband’s gone to war, strong. I wanted Red Sonja chopping heads in every story. Instead, I never wanted for a man with no neck.
Being ten and knowing everything, I had the answer. To be the hero, the heroine must cast off everything that makes her a girl, to be a dude with breasts! Hero Barbie had to dress like a dude, think like one, smoke like one and get such a bitchin’ tattoo as could only come from prison.
No tea parties! No shopping! No housewifery or skirted business suits! No pesky children! Pshaw, aprons! Go to hell, fairy princesses! She could only be the kind of man I saw in no-brainer adventure tales on television. If put in a dress, Hero Barbie should think she looks like this:
None of that silly girl-shit, just straight ass-kickin’. How could she fail?
But then…something curious. For every headlock:
For every backhander:
There came a sudden unexpected ending.
Hero Barbie started to lose.
Villain Barbie was just too awesome.
She could wear pink sparkles and still kick ass. She took whatever she wanted, including the initiative in my stories. She was free from whatever constraints society placed on her because she didn’t give a damn what society thought. SHE WAS THE VILLAIN. No talk of what girls or women or boys or men HAD to be affected her. She’d gleefully give anyone who told her what to do the little plastic finger.
Golly that sounded like fun! Hero Barbie couldn’t fight that. And why should she? Villain Barbie began seducing my hero as surely as she’d seduced me.
There was only one problem. The villain never really gives a shit about anyone, including her friends. She just uses them for what she needs at the moment. Alluring, yes, but I actually cared about people. I wanted to help them.
I had to find a way to merge the two, to make Frankenstein Barbie. Could the pink dress, the automatic rifle and the desire to help people rather than hurt them really go hand in hand in hand?
Were you more attracted to the hero or the villain in fiction? I must say I liked them both.
(Before anyone lists strong female heroines in the 80’s, please remember that my childhood stories are based on my experiences alone and aren’t an indictment or even an accurate reflection of the times. These are the memories that led to my writing characters the way I do. Thanks muchly. ^_^)