What if every story didn’t end with the girl getting the guy?
What if our daughters didn’t enter womanhood believing that acquiring your Prince Charming was the only way to secure happiness?
Regina Spektor famously sung ‘I’m the hero of this story, I don’t need to be saved,’ and I can’t help but feel that women should be reminded of this, rather than led into the sad world of waiting for a man to rescue you. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to have companionship or experience love and my aim is not to make women with these aspirations feel guilty for doing so. After all it’s in our nature to want to be loved and who would want to go through life feeling lonely? What I am simply trying to say is, do we not feel that women of today would benefit from reading about female characters that have other goals too?
As a child I grew up with Disney princesses telling me that your aim in life should be to find your Prince Charming, then as I grew older Helen Fielding told me through the lips of Bridget Jones that without men you are sad and lonely, with just a tub of Ben & Jerry’s to comfort you. I find as a result of these stories, many women associate the success of their life with their marital status. Not only does this put men on a pedestal and give them a comparison that they cannot ever possibly live up to, but it also causes women to limit themselves greatly, associating other achievements outside of their relationships as minor successes.
I just want to read a book that tells me you can have happiness without meeting ‘the one’. I want to meet an author who isn’t scared of straying away from the standard novel layout of sad, single lady meets the guy, wants the guy, gets the guy. But without this format how would we write women’s fiction? What would our leading lady’s goals be without marriage and love in mind? How could we thrill the reader without the excitement and anticipation associated with courting? It all seems far too complicated for an unaccomplished author, like myself, to attempt so I spend hours rummaging through bookshop’s shelves looking for another female author who shares my ambition and has put it down on paper with success. Living in a modern world surrounded by successful women I didn’t think this was be a challenging task but my endless searching left me feeling disheartened that I would ever find such a book. It’s not that there is a lack of strong female characters out there but more the fact that their ‘girl power’ comes at a price. The characters are either career obsessed, feminism activists or change into the doting wife as soon as they meet the right man. When did female strength become so unattractive?
It wasn’t until I started sharing my ideas with my friends, family and colleagues that I started to be compared to the modern day Jane Austen, not through the quality of my writing, I’m not that pretentious, but rather through my authorial intent. I find it ironic however that two hundred years on from ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Elizabeth Bennett has failed to be resurrected in novels of today. Where’s the feisty, witty, intelligent character that many readers have come to love and aspire to? Why do I have to revisit Georgian England to find my idol? Shouldn’t the authors of today be able to create a lead woman with power, without making her a ball-breaker, ditsy or even worse a bra burning feminist?
I want to read a book where the woman knows what she wants and she isn’t too demure to say so. I want to read a book where a woman has sex freely without criticism and with characters she doesn’t plan on marrying. I want to read a book where feminism doesn’t mean throwing yourself in front of a horse but instead standing up for equality. I want to read a book where the woman has career success without destroying relationships in the process. Where can I find a book that has all these qualities I feel a modern day woman should have? Where can I find a book that shows a woman whose goal in life is to simply to be happy regardless of her marital status?
Simple, I am going to write one.