Tough Girls in the Sandbox: Engineer’s Log, August 26th 2014: 24,561 Words

Hello dear reader (I know that I have a few at least)!

First off, an update: The Lost Tomb of Omo is currently at twenty four thousand, five hundred and sixty one words, or about 1,500 words added over the last week. Due to health issues and time commitments between both Kim and Jess, I’m still waiting on their feedback to make the latest revision in full. Although I’m anxious to see what they think, I’m just plunking away on the next part so it’s really not a “delay”… Heck, if they take long enough I’ll just print the next chapter and staple it to the back of copies they already have!

Model: Andrey Kiselev, photographer unknown.
Model: Andrey Kiselev, photographer unknown.

I witnessed some disheartening and heartening things on a writer’s forum I’m a member of today. It started with a woman writer complaining about sexist views getting her down as she works on her fantasy novel featuring an action oriented female protagonist. The views were along the lines of “realistically, women aren’t strong enough to be action oriented characters so it makes the story hard for me to believe…”

Yeah, I know. Pretty inane right? Particularly when we are talking about FANTASY fiction where stuff like monsters, talking magic swords and wizards are perfectly acceptable without much further explanation. But a chick that can swing a sword with the best of them to save the day? “Oh no way! That’s just too much to believe! I just can’t read something so unrealistic!”

I would say that about 85% of the comments were positive, either showing her encouragement or commiserating that such sentiments were indeed stupid. And that was awesome. I was one of the commenters in that camp. The remainder, this being the internet and all, were mostly affirmations that what the original poster said were true as men behaved badly and more or less rehashed all the lame reasons why a woman warrior is too unrealistic a concept for them to swallow in fiction. I suppose some were outright trolls (which makes some weird sense on a fantasy writing group), but enough tried to cloak their views in “facts” to prove their point that I think they were expressing honest opinions. Name calling, straw men and even claims of feminist attacks were tossed about.

My comments weren’t spared either, because of course I was a moron for saying that (oh my God) there have been plenty of examples of fighting women throughout history (and today) and that one’s physical strength isn’t the end-all-be-all of what makes a warrior. You know, that things like skill, reflexes and intelligence used to predict an opponent’s moves and to utilize tactics, strategy and the environment against them are often more important than raw power. Apparently, those are some pretty dumb statements worthy of name calling.

Guys, seriously? Why are dragons okay and a woman who could knock you out cold in a tavern brawl not only isn’t, but the mere thought of it alone is worth tossing insults and accusations at strangers?

The problem has nothing to do with “realism”… That’s just a smokescreen to cover some other issue they would rather not, or can not, articulate. Instead I take this view: Fantasy fiction can be escapist fiction, a safe place where your idealized world is all laid out for you just as you think it should be. It’s your sandbox and all your favorite toys and adventures are there. When other kids start playing in the sandbox, some will just keep doing their thing. Some will share, some will join in, and some will check out the swings for awhile. Others kids will feel that this is THEIR sandbox and kids that don’t play they way they do are an attack on THEIR safe place. The other kids need to change their games or go away! Or they will be hit! And if these kids can’t win they will happily piss in the sandbox they love so much to spoil it for everyone.

The sad part is that the sandbox is actually big enough for all of us. All of us and all of our favorite toys and adventures.

"Qavah the Brave" by Wes Talbott
“Qavah the Brave” by Wes Talbott

Ladies, armor up and sharpen your swords. It’s a big sandbox and you are welcome to it!

Take care dear reader, and be well!


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