Women are definitely asserting themselves in literature these days. And this is absolutely O.K! So lets look at why strong women are vital in literature and why they deserve to be recognized.
History and present day testifies to the struggles women face and have faced to earn what should be the natural right of all humankind – fairness.
From financial rights to those of choice; from equitable opportunity to equal pay; and most importantly, the right to education, the journey has been uphill, fraught with obstacles and at times downright dangerous- but it is by no means over..
There seems to exist in western culture a type of stalemate- where equality is theoretically accepted (see Equality Act, 2010, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance), but often not implemented. Whilst it is absolutely the ruling governments responsibility to ensure its laws are carried through, on a human level how can we build women who stand up for their rights but also have the qualities of a true strong woman.
We could join movements, take part in marches, contribute to the social media presence which upholds rights for women- all worthy actions- but what about modelling?
From birth babies learn by watching, by copying, and by learning from example.
So as a female, ask yourself- Am I showing by my own qualities that I believe in the equality of the sexes. Do my daughters, granddaughters, nieces, friends- even young female work colleagues or students, see the qualities of a strong women?
I’m not talking necessarily about physical strength or whether you can mend a car here (though if that’s your thing, go knock yourself out!!) Being a strong women is not defined by “doing things as well as men do”. Individuals are strong in different ways. Internal strength and motivation, emotional maturity, and drive and determination are all qualities of a truly strong person. Are these not the qualities we should strive to display for our young women to emulate?
Another way we could show modelling is through literature. Although strong women in modern literature seem to be traditionally masculine, this has not always been the case. Think Jo in “Little Women” Elizabeth in “Pride and predudice” and even Nancy Drew, and those feisty girls in Swallows and Amazons. These women showed true character, were not afraid of hard work and adventure, and were neither entitled, nor afraid of breaking a nail…..!
They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus. This is to some extent true. We are entitled to equality, but we are not equal in all things. Women and men vary in strengths, just the same as the differing strengths and weaknesses we see between individuals. Let us teach out young women not to compete with men, but be the best they can possible be, both inside and out.