When the “Gangs of New York” film came out, the documentaries followed behind, uncloaking the history and reminding me again of my sore lack of historical knowledge but appreciation of it as it obtain it now. Of course, with my vast hard science educational background, I had no clue there was a “Five Points” in New York City, draft riots during the Civil War, and had no idea who Boss Tweed was. So as I absorbed the documentaries like a paper towel I remember a phrase used: “Where there were men, there were women.” (Something like that).
When I think about that, yes, in most stories, where there are men, there are women. When men are the main characters, what to the women bring to the table? Answer: Lots. While I don’t think every story should be a woman manipulating a man, women drive the plot as supporting characters in many great stories. Men and women have roles expected of them, generally: Men carry the outward violence and women carry the subtle poisoning, be it for real or of convincing others to do their bidding.
As a writer of a strong female protagonist, I like strong women in fiction. Weak women (sorry Sansa) will make me put a book down without a lot of support (“A Song of Ice and Fire” gives support, thank goodness). So what are weak female character traits? Answer: Petty jealousy, vanity, fearfulness with no apparent danger, and unabashed selfishness taking no stand for her children. So what makes a strong woman? Answer: Fearless, protective of her children, unconcerned about civil obedience, independence, and the intelligence to work around the male counterparts who often have the upper hand and beat them at their game.
With the list above, one would think much is expected of women in fiction, but I don’t think so. One needs to look no further than historical brave women like my favorite Queen Elizabeth I prototype and go from there either before or after to find inspirational women that lived in this world. When women today speak of challenges, I understand that, but the past challenges make for fascinating stories now. Research inspires great females in fiction today.
Writers go forth and write something great for we readers. We’re waiting to meet great characters, men and women. Each has a critical role and neither less interesting. Where there are women, there are men.