Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Damsels In Distress

You know... we are indocrinated with this... Disney's early stuff ALL was this. Snow White. Sleeping Beauty. Cinderella. I mean, sure, they had little animals giving them a hand until the man came around to do the job, but really, all of them had lousy lives sans MAN.

I'm glad Disney changed courses... Belle saves the Beast more than the Beast saves Belle... Mulan is tough. But still. Those FAIRY TALES...

Well... except Hansel and Gretel—Gretel thinks to make her brother look too skinny to eat and then shoves the witch in the oven, yes?

But mostly I think this indoctrination has led a lot of BOOKS to have damsels in distress too.

And you know what? I just can't tolerate that crap.

The first book that made me think... “HEY! I'd like to write books!” Was a Sidney Sheldon book I read in Jr. High where the heroine is counting on this marriage to this rich guy and then basically gets dumped, imprisoned and something else bad happens... I don't remember why... but while she is imprisoned she realizes SHE has it in herself to be her own hero. It was a bit Count of Monty Cristo, now that I think of it, though I read it before reading Count of Monty Cristo so I didn't know... but I loved the twist. [and it also explains the seeming non-sequiter pic of Emily Thorne]

And I have not been able to tolerate those dumb damsels since.

I mean SURE—everyone needs a rescue now and then...
And bad stuff happens to everyone—it makes for good reading.

But the damsel that needs the big strong man? No thanks. (I mean other than to dance like I like—we all need THAT kind of rescue now and again)

With the Garden Society Series I made a commitment early on—after reading one too many cozies that ended with the sleuth rescued by her hunka hot man crush, that MY HEROINE would be doing the rescuing, thanks. Not by herself. (She's not a ninja). And in the three books I've written she DOES get herself into a pickle now and then. But she is far more often on the other side of the equation.

In fact... Of the 14 books I've written, there is a female rescuing somebody in 12 of them... sometimes the rescuee is male, sometimes female (sometimes child)--the things they are rescued from range from abduction to bodily harm. I suppose they've needed rescues in probably six, but it doesn't seem as offensive to me when a person is on both sides of the equation in the same book.

Any of you have deep-rooted character peeves that you've carried through to most of your writing?


mooderino said...

I think sometimes these damsels only pretend to need rescuing just to make the fella feel good about himself.

Moody Writing

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I just read Moody's comment - crap, she's probably right! Even in my second book, I think Athee does far more for Byron than the other way around.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, interesting. But that is another pet peeve of mine--playing games amounts to nothing more that manipulation in my book and I hate that.

Alison DeLuca said...

Word. I love a kickass heroine. Liz Salander was awesome, except of course she had to go and fall for the reporter dude (like every other woman in the world, apparently. Does he have vibrating chest hairs or something?)

But now I really, really can't wait to read The Azalea Assault.

M.J. Fifield said...

I love Mood's comment.

I tend to write heroines who do the rescuing but that's not my hard and fast rule.

Laura Eno said...

I love strong heroines. It's nice when there's a balance - both male and female having to work together to solve the problem as a team.

Hart Johnson said...

Alison *snort* I know, right! That was my main problem with that series that I mostly loved... every damn woman wanted to sleep with Michail Blumquist--I thought that was a little mental masterbation on Larsson's part and should have been edited down. A LOT. had he not died.

MJ-going both ways is fair!

Laura-yeah, I like the working together version, too.

Teresa Coltrin@Journaling Woman said...

I'm with Mood. Some people (men and women) do want to be rescued. It's less work on the rescuee's part. :)

Connie J Jasperson said...

Once again you have hit the nail on the head, Hart! I SO agree! I think if a girl actually has to be rescued, she should have done as much damage as she was able before she got into that predicament, and she should 'own' her culpability. After all, not every brilliant idea ends well!

Old Kitty said...

My fave Catwoman scene (the one with gorgeous Michelle Pfiefer) is when she rescues this woman from being mugged. The rescued woman thanks her and Catwoman replies “You make it so easy don’t you, always waiting for some Batman to save you. I am Catwoman, hear me roar". Now that's worthy of a thesis or two!

Take care

Helena said...

I grew up with the same early Disney movies and fairy tales, and with TV shows that had women standing by helplessly while the good guy duked it out with the bad guy. Those scenes drove me nuts. So yes, I loved the way your lady in Azalea could take care of herself.

Erin Kane Spock said...

I've overdosed on alpha males and have never included one, not really, in my mainstream work.
I'm with you on the damsel in distress thing. I think the thing with that is that the modern woman is expected to do it all. The idea of being rescued, taken care of, might be appealing in the escapist sense.

Heather Savage said...

I was so proud when my little girl said "I can't stand those princesses, all they do is sit around doing their hair waiting to be rescued. I like (princess in Princess and the Frog, sorry I'm bad with names), she works for a living."
A big thing for me writing UF and Paranormal is having strong heroines and balancing them out so they don't get super strong and then rock the other creatures who are inherently bigger, better, faster. So I guess I'm sensitive to making a realistically fantastical heroine if that makes sense.