So here’s something I bet you’ll never see coming. There are people over here that I can’t stand. In my previous position, I had two key leaders, both females who were unable to perform their duties. One of those individuals told anyone who would listen that I simply didn’t like her and that I was targeting her and ‘being mean’. Yes those words were used (we’re in the ARMY people, but that’s another discussion).
Anyway, both of said individuals retained their jobs, despite their complete incompetence and despite the fact that their failure to perform negatively impacted an entire brigade’s ability to communicate. When I look at the situation, I see two soldiers who failed to perform. What my seniors see is that they’ve got a female being mean to two other females.
Are you kidding me? I wish.
How on earth does this relate to writing? It’s actually exceptionally applicable because guess who gets blamed for all most all wrongs in a romance novel? If you said the heroine, you’d be right on the money. So here’s my issue: If as a female officer, I am harder on other female soldiers, regardless of rank, does that impact how I view female characters in movies? Absolutely. The other interesting fact is that when women critique other people’s writing, they are harder on women than they are on male authors.
So what do we do about it? In real life, should we be ‘nicer’ to other women simply because our male counterparts refuse to hold them to the same standard that they hold men to? Should we cut our heroine’s some slack because maybe we can’t really say how we’d react in the same situation or maybe because she does something we completely wouldn’t do in the same situation?
I think it should be a little bit of both. Maybe, in real life, we should spend more time developing our fellow women. In both instances, I attempted to but then became over come by events. Not an excuse, a fact. Then both people stopped working for me, limiting my influence even further. A wonderful example of women supporting and mentoring others is my home RWA chapter in Austin. All one has to do is post a question and folks will be jumping up with the answer and trying to help. There are wonderful mentors in the group, all willing to offer advice from how they got through a similar situation.
In writing, all I can do is identify what drives my heroine and have her act true to her character. With any kind of luck, I’ll have portrayed the emotional stakes correctly so my readers will understand where she’s coming from.
The real world is always more difficult to get right than fiction. In fiction, I control what my characters do. But if I take too much control, I risk mixing up my heroine’s motivation and that, more than anything, will have readers throwing books at the walls