I have received some pretty strange feedback since I made my novels public.
Everything from; “This was clearly written by a woman, but a woman with a good imagination.” Which, admittedly, cracked me up… to: “This novel is harmful TO women.”
Today I’d like to briefly address the latter comment.
First, some quick background information. I don’t like to identify as a feminist because I find third-wave feminism online to be very toxic and distressing. In third-wave feminism online I see a lot of hate, anger and bitterness and I don’t necessarily want to associate with that. Offline I am more likely to identify as feminist because I have a great deal of respect and love for first-wave feminism but third-wave feminism online is something I have tried to steer clear from.
Anytime I have spoken up online about my beliefs on certain subjects I have had the extreme left level me with insults.
So with that information in tact, just know that when I wrote my novel it was not with any desire to make a political statement. I didn’t want to write a feminist character or share a feminist message but in the same way I had no desire of sharing the opposite. My only goal in writing was to tell a fun story with characters people could hopefully relate to.
My main character, Kai, is a mixture of the women I know and love most in my life. People often mistakenly think I based her on myself but I most certainly did not. She also suffers from anxiety and a bit of PTSD. I’ve been told I demonstrated that VERY poorly but if I did, oh well. Kai doesn’t know what she has, she can only share her experiences in her own unique way.
Kai is also a spaceship ‘captain’. If you’ve read the novel, you know that title doesn’t really mean all that much.
And this is where the ‘your character hurts women’ comment came from. Kai is in a position of power (captain) and she’s not perfect, she’s not even very good at being ‘captain’ because she’s reckless and at times foolish, and this is not okay in the eyes of some third-wave feminists online (apparently).
It’s been over a year since I received that little inbox note and it still bothers me. Why do women have to be portrayed as super strong, incapable of error, perfect creatures in media? Is this the only ‘strong female’ that third-wave feminists will accept?
I think of Kai as strong and I see her as strong. She has all the same insecurities, doubts and even desires as any women I know, but she pushes through those things and lives her life. She doesn’t back down in the face of her anxiety, she doesn’t let her mistakes stop her from moving forward and she’ll go fist to fist with anyone who pisses her off. If she were a male character, she’d basically be Captain Kirk (with the same foolish away missions), so how is she a disgrace to women?
I look around at popular media right now and I see depictions of women I can’t identify with and I think it’s because content creators feel obliged to cow-tow to feminists like the one who inboxed me complaining that my novel ‘hurt women’ because my female lead was not powerful or smart enough.
I won’t ever cow-tow. I won’t ever politicize. I just want to tell stories with characters who feel real to me and others. I want broken, damaged characters who make horrible decisions and yet still manage to come out on top. I want characters who are good people but not perfect people.
I’m sorry if you feel my novel ‘hurts women’. I don’t think I’ll ever be famous enough for that to ever actually come true but even if some miracle happened and my words reached many ears, I don’t think anyone would read a fictional novel and think ‘women shouldn’t be captains because this fictional woman was bad at it’.
If my novel IS anti-feminist… so be it. I won’t change it to feed into some political agenda. It’s just a story, with characters I’m rather fond of despite their faults. And yes, it was a story that was clearly written by a woman but I had a hell of a lot of fun writing it and can’t wait to write more.