Friday, May 6, 2011

Princess Mentality and Empowerment: Together

The old stand-by of the Princess mentality is that a woman should look for a husband who will take care of her, at the very least, and care for her as a bonus. This doesn’t make her a weak woman by any means, but it also pervades the belief that a woman needs to be taken care of.

Recent years have shown an upsurge in dispelling this notion. A woman is strong, damn it. She has the capabilities to care of herself – even others, if you can believe that. She doesn’t need a man to make sure she has a roof over her head or even food to eat. You know the line: “I am woman, hear me roar!”

If you look, these ideals are two sides of the same coin. What about a combination of the two? The best of both sides, so to speak. This is where we, as romance authors (of any genre) play a very important role in the lives of women everywhere. We do combine the two elements, some from the old and some from the new, to create the heroine we all dream of having been or of yet to become.
The women we usually write about have inner strength and stamina. They are intelligent, they are beautiful in their own right and they have – or will - overcome obstacles that test all of these and more. Our heroines prove, without a doubt, that they can be independent and stick up for themselves. They don’t need anyone else for their survival. Proof of point number two above.
What about the first point? A man to take care of her? We dose this into our stories as well, but we make it work in our favor this time. Our heroine may not need a man. Hell, she may not even want one, but we create our heroes in such a way that our steadfast heroine falls for him regardless of what she thinks she wants. We create heroes who are dependable, trustworthy, and sensitive to our needs and desires. So even though the need isn’t necessarily there for the woman to have to have the male, his sense of rightness makes it okay to for her to lean upon him from time to time.
Most of us have grown up with either the first or second belief system instilled into us. Older, we tend to have that tiny voice in the back of our minds that insists on indignation when our man is not living up to our expectations – basically, of providing for us. Another portion of us grew up with the ‘screw men’ mentality and have worked ourselves into frenzy of doing it all and proving that we can do it all, yet we still cry out when our man is not there for us to lean on from time to time.
C’mon men, work with us. It’s only a simple compromise. Jeesh.
Years ago I heard a Bill Cosby comedy bit where he was poking fun at women, specifically Eve, if I remember right, indicating a woman, to a man, is like this, “come-here-come-here-come-here. Then when he comes ‘here,’ it turns to go-away-go-away-go-away.” It is funny, because it’s true. But not in an ugly sense. No, it’s quite simple.
We want our men on our own terms. If it’s not, it’s because he’s a damn smart man to know when we do need him, even if we can’t always see it for ourselves.
With the “come-here” side, our men would be able to come to us when we call, if he knows we sincerely need his presence. Likewise, if we call, he might stand back with silent support if he knows we truly need to overcome and succeed on our own. He’d be there either way with open arms.
On the “go-away” side, our men would be able to step back without injured pride or ego when we state the need to be independent, yet he would be strong enough to know when we’re posturing, and he would be able to ground us when that’s what we truly need at the time.
Still, the reality of a strong, smart, independent woman actually finding the kind of male who will love her, be there for her, and take care of her when she wants or needs? *snort* I haven’t seen in any of these men in my lifetime. Have you? Maybe it is all a fantasy. Either way, real or not, at least we have the heroes of our books to stand us through.
Happy reading everyone!

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