Strong Female Roles

In today’s story marketing, we often hear the cry for “Strong Female Roles!”

Now, I’ve never been quite adverse to the idea that there are extraordinary women out there, even physically talented women. However sometimes in hollywood and anime what we get is one or the other, we get a very stern, unfriendly, unrelateable, super geniuses with a touch of personal angst or insecurity. But it’s not like they have much reason to be insecure. They are the chosen ones! Destined to win! Of course, even in such situations the best of them might be insecure, but for me, all this feels forced.

Insecurities are deep seated. They are based on failure, continuous failure, and all the while comparing yourself to someone who isn’t that. Or perceived failure. In these situations we don’t get that. We get someone who has all these gifts, is incredibly admirable, no one is comparably better than they in their own hometown, yet we are supposed to feel pity for these insecurities about their glorious destiny? I salute those who can, but I could never do it. It always felt like a farce. I need something more than “I’m merely human” sometimes, especially if your a kickass, Marine, Navy SEAL, rough, tough, Special Forces, battle babe, who is a genius self taught engineer with the ability to master the Force in like, a day.

If you haven’t guessed, Im not a fan of  Rey from the star wars franchise. We just get all her virtues slapped together even though it’s no consequence for the plot line that they exist, or neither for anything that has to do with the audience. One thing that I really wouldn’t mind, is if the creators demonstrated that they understood what it is to be a genius engineer, a moment to decipher how a mind of such a person works. A step back and analysis if you will. I think that was the glory of the BBC Sherlock series, and why I didn’t mind at all the presence or characterization of Irene Adler (even though in the original book she was vastly different, and I didn’t nor do I now care for (I actually despise it) the over sexualization of her episode. I wish they would take that out honestly.) I did, however question the characterization of Mrs Watson. I wouldn’t mind if they made her a thoughtful, yet ordinary woman with a sharp wit that could verbally battle with the best of them, while adding insight into the various cases, and supporting her husband in his endeavors. But they had to make her a super secret agent spy and kill her off. I was dismayed at that part. Again, it felt forced, and while the producers managed to make me grudgingly accept this reality while still enjoying the character, something still felt off.

In Moana, the familiar tick was even more exacerbated. I could not enjoy the show at all, it was just not my style. The interactions of the characters were cute, but there was this feeling of everything being forced, especially since I could predict verbatim some of the ‘inspirational’ or ‘angsty’ lines before they were even said.

As you can tell, I hate things being forced.

(also some of the transition cuts were rather poorly executed for a disney movie, and in this case they seemed to rely on music to make people like the story and I really hate when they do that. It just gives me an annoying headache.)

I think this is the greatest problem as well for the Christian fiction and media community. Often times we get a forced message and an unrealistic story, or at least one I nor the neighborhood atheist cannot relate to diddly squat. While I admire Michael D O Brien, and I used to be a great fan of his words (and still am quite intrigued by them) I do get that feeling in some of his more ‘preachy’ works. I like the message, but the portrayal needs work. It’s partially a reason why I became so taken with Utopia, because none of it really seemed forced, in fact what we get is a very strong, but subversive, message in the compendium of less than 100 or so pages. It’s quite a marvel actually, and it’s the reason why scholars today are at odds as to what the message is. It’s one of the reasons I’m a fan of satire, because you have to be clever when writing in that genre.

I think it would be a great step in the direction for equality if we didn’t have that. Or more importantly, if women weren’t degraded all the time.

So what would be a good strong female lead? Well I think that there are certain roles that have not yet been experimented with, at least at a popular level.

They are wide and various, but the most interesting ones in my opinion are those who are naturally weak on one or multiple important aspects, and strong in another, but let the strengths and weaknesses be realistic, complimentary, and relevant to the plot and meaning of the story. Furthermore, the weakness cannot be resolved or made better by the strength, for that has to be filled by another, be it in a friendship, alliance, family, or spouse.

I say I appreciate this in female characters, but I also like to see this in male characters. Often, in male characters these days, their strength is sacrificed. Either they are seen as total losers, weaklings, or jerks, or they do have strength, but it pales in comparison to the strength of the strong female character who naturally has to be better at everything that the male character does. In this manner, the sexes are not seen as complimentary, but one must be inferior to the other by default, and in this day and age it’s the female that comes out on top instead of the male. Personally Im more irritated by that than when the male always comes out on top (which still irritates me sometimes, especially since in those situations where it causes the female to just fall in love head over heels for the dude. Yeah, no thank you.). It irritates me more because it’s done in the name of equality, when what is only being done is the reverse of what was originally done, which is not good at all.

 

While I don’t think I ever thought about this before, it is one of the reasons why my story arcs center on two protagonists, one male and one female, who are markedly different in several ways, but still without overshadowing each other.

Im really big on the idea of complementarity, and although not everyone shares my values, I have attempted to imbue them in my work.

My favorite female characters that I have devised are: Fayelin Raye, Victoria Doraine, Serian Felvinorai, and Margo Lannas.

***

See, Fayelin is not strong, or particularly adept in the institutional academic sphere. She’s weak physically, and gets sick all the time. She’s clumsy, rather eccentric, and has diagnosed dyslexia, making it somewhat troublesome when reading, a trait she got from her father’s side of the family.  Her social capabilities manifest with rollercoaster results. At times she is the apple of her class’s eye, and other times she is virtually an outcast. She’s friendly and outgoing, funny, extroverted and always on the lookout for new friends, however she’s very impulsive, which sometimes causes her to say more than she should or do things that are not necessary. Thus, she’s often called ‘annoying’ or ‘rude.’ She realizes that she isn’t very traditionally feminine, but she tries anyway, in her own way.

Furthermore, she goes through periods of borderline insanity, triggered by competitive sentiments, that help her achieve great results, however at the expense of others.

Even so, she’s quite pure, naive, and simple to the point of being of the disposition of a child. Often times when the other protagonist in the arc, Malin, criticizes her, he compares her to a five year old little girl. Alternatively, she generally is quite thoughtful, even though she’s unable to show it academically. But this aspect allows her to often dialogue with Malin at length about human nature and the state of things, at the benefit of the plot and the central themes surrounding it.

Her greatest strength though is, like a child, whenever she falls, she gets back up. Whenever she is hurt, she is quick to forgive. She can’t comprehend manipulation fully, and wears her heart on her sleeve. Whenever everyone else is afraid to take the next step, she will bound forward. In times when everyone else will give up, she will continue to drag herself, and everyone else, forward. When she feels she can trust someone, she does so without hesitation. Constructive criticism, she embraces, and she tries to see the good in everyone, even herself, especially in times when it is difficult. She doesn’t judge people for their habits and idiosyncrasies, but rather enjoys that which is different and foreign, and is willing to help out even the worst of them. This is what allows her to be able to use the golden gun and form a misfit family around her by the end of the storyline, a family which becomes important to the storyline. She has a strong heart, and a valiant spirit that is never really dismayed for long. She is the energy and life of the team, and they could not stand without her.

However, she has a slightly muddled sense of right and wrong, not that this makes her do evil things, but rather she seems to allow for behavior that is not entirely just or at least she might condone it. This is where she differs from Malin who, although well versed in the existence of evil, is firm in his morals and determined to do what is right as much as he can.

One example of them clashing is when Malin finds out she cheated on a test because it seemed like everyone else in the classroom was doing it, and the end prize seemed pretty good, and down with the system amiright? Malin came back with a firm rebuttal that if she did not value the grade enough to study for it, then it should mean nothing at all to her, and that she proves it meant nothing to her if she cheated for it. A delight to easily succeed, yes, but

Of course, her moral murkiness extends to things of a slightly more imperative nature than cheating on tests, but that is one incident. She does not, however, commit moral wrongs out of malice, but rather a misguided mental understanding of the world due to early influences that were not very positive, but as the story progresses, this flaw is somewhat remedied, as she truly wants to be good to others.

Ultimately, Fayelin is an independent, unique, and unorthodox figure that acts all on her own whims or convictions, and is the catalyst for many things that happen in the story arc. Even though she is lacking in many of the things the world values, much like a hurricane she manages to shake the parts of the world she comes into contact with because of her influence on people she meets by the mere force of her personality, as well as her connection to a most important ally.

 

***

 

Victoria Doraine is my second favorite of all my female characters, mainly because she is what every girl might in some way admire or aspire to be. Except the reality of Victoria Doraine is much more complex than a mere idol or ideal version of the business woman.

Cold-hearted, ruthless, practical, and efficient, Victoria is a natural born politician and could never under any circumstances ever let anyone see her as ‘common.’ Since she was five she began to learn 7 other languages and could speak them all fluently at the age of 18. After all, it is important for a future politician to speak the language of the people she is addressing, and that’s what she’s going to be, a politician. Her parents were stunned when at the mere age of 6 she announced to the family she wanted to be an Ambassador for the Central Court.
Her interests isolated her for awhile from the rest of the student body, however she quickly was re-instituted into the social sphere when she learned that the most important quality of a future senator was to manage people. So, she started attempting to do just that. Fortunately for her, she had a very social mother whom she observed on a daily basis to find out the tricks of being liked. She also had a family who was in the artistic side of the propaganda business for the nation. From them she learned human psychology and the art of manipulation. Fortunately for her, she picked up the tricks quite rapidly and soon became the most popular girl in the grade even with her cold heart, average looks, and constant academic achievement.  She does have some enemies, but she tends to ignore them, since she strategically build the social ladder in their school to make any moves against her an affront on multiple individuals. Therefore, the fear of retaliation is greater than their hate for her, just as she planned it to be.

While she is fit, her ability in athletics are only average as she generally spends more time sharpening her wit rather than her reflexes. She generally exercises because image matters a lot in politics.
It would be safe to say, from all the lying and the hardships at home (for her mother died when she was ten, and afterward her father became an alcoholic) she ended up developing a cold stone heart, or at least at second glance she did. A few factors, two to be exact, prevented her complete petrification. She has a maternal side, and a quite fierce love for her little sister even though she is never truly able to open up to her as she tries to protect her from everything, even herself.

As someone can easily see, Victoria at times, seems to act without conscience, manipulating whatever system or the life of whatever individual she can. However she has some values and truths that she would rather allow the whole of her hard work crumble than to give up. However, these values are few and vague, and at times she wonders herself why she keeps them. They are that the innocent should not be killed, and the city should not be destroyed

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thoughts

One thing that I found is that in a lot of children’s books the protagonist tends to beat the enemy by the power of love or friendship. It’s been done so much that it’s become an official trope to some people. I haven’t noticed it until recently myself, because recently I’ve not been reading or watching those kinds of books or media. But here are my two cents on friendship in fictional stories.
I think it’s important to not take an extremely cynical or extremely optimistic view on friendship. The former will make you loose the majority of a sensible, non-depressed, audience. Regarding the latter, it would just be venting to impose a cynicism that most would recognize as false.
The former, is not as harmful but can become so superficial to the point that your audience will either cringe or not see the point in it at all, labeling it as unrealistic, soppy,  yeah, sure, we get it.
In the Aureylien Inheritance, we get a mix of friendships, none of them perfect, between various players. At the center of it all, however, is the friendships between two people who are fundamentally at odds due to their allegiances and or beliefs. I use those most often because of how fun they can be. Dialogue or debate aplenty, we are luckily deprived of a category 4 echo chamber. Furthermore, this allows the character’s personality’s to become more contrasted as they play off each other.
Example, Cairns signature smirk versus Goldie’s trademark half smile. Cairn’s Machiavellian and Nihillistic bent, even though he is a prestigious academic, versus Goldie’s Humanism and Spirituality even though she is a lowly scavenger, residue of a war among politicians.
Comet, although she is optimistic overall, has a slight pessimism when it comes to being a moral creature, and can be said to hold some questionable morality at the outset, even though she is a native Aureylien, versus Malin who is Iskorin has very firmly held righteous beliefs that he will not bend under any circumstances.
Their friendships are not smooth, and, in the case of Cairn and Goldie, sometimes absurdly maintained. But they are, and in some ways I feel as a result the pairs sacrifice so much more for so little. What is a friendship after all, to those one who is dedicated and loyal, and the other who is rather self-centered, but accepting and generous.
They love each other like siblings, but it’s hard to love a sibling all the time, especially when they act up. But sometimes, it’s easier to forgive.

“Its scary how easy I can become like a villain.”

Malin glanced at Fayelin. She was perched up on the wall, looking at the sky. Her words dropped softly as if she couldn’t believe them herself.
It’s something all humanity faces. We are prone to a duality between good and evil.
Failing opened her mouth to say something. “Even though we do not exist as a duality ourselves.”
Fayelin paused. Thought. Then resumed. “But… it never feels natural.”
“In your case, it’s less ‘ordinary’ although I wouldn’t say it can ever be ‘natural.’ It’s part of the curse of Iskorin. Even though your Aureylien blood cancels out the majority of the evil, a trace is still left. That’s why you can do so much damage.”
Fayelin shuddered, then looked at Malin warily. “Have you ever felt like that?”
“Yes.”
“Does it happen a lot?”
“No.”
“That’s odd don’t you think? Because you are pure Iskorin, and Isdore to boot.”
“That’s exactly why I don’t let it get the better of me like you do.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Because the few times that I have allowed myself to feel that way, the damage was much, much, much more severe. To know evil is to commit it, and I know evil Raye. More than you will in your entire lifetime. I know how it moves, I know how it tempts, I know it’s sound and I know it’s scent. And I hate what it’s done when I let it overtake me for even a second.”
Fayelin perked up. “But, you know evil is evil.”
“Yes.”
“That means you know good? Otherwise you wouldn’t know evil as evil.”
“Sure.”
“That means you are good?”
“Listen Raye, and believe what Im about to tell you. You can never trust an Iskorin. Just because I can choose good now, doesn’t mean I always will. I have known evil, which means if I so choose I can commit it.”
“But you won’t.”
“You don’t know that”
“Perhaps… But…I know…you?”
“You don’t know the first thing about me.”
“I know that you hold noble values.”
“Noble? Debatable. Some would call them ridiculous or superficial.”
“I don’t.”
“Oh well, go on oh wise one, your attempts at justifying me are flattering, but they don’t eliminate the truth as you will see eventually.”
“And… you don’t want to.”
“Don’t want to what?”
“You don’t want to betray people.”
“Well, NOW I don’t, but who can say-“
“In the future, I know. But you take that risk with everyone you hold dear. So, It’s alright, I think, If Im friends with you now for being who you are now, and not thinking about future hurts.”
“That’s naive Raye.”
“That’s faith, Isdore, and faith is not naive. Faith is always based on some reason. Let’s be friends, you and me.”
“I’m not like other people.”
“Neither am I.”
“You’re insane.”
“So I’ve been told.”
Malin paused. “I didn’t think I’d ever have a friend after that day.”
“I never thought I’d have a friend period. At least, one that would last.”
“How are you so sure this is going to last?”
“I just have a feeling… that’s all.”
Malin got up and started walking away. “Good bye, Raye.”
“See you, Malin.”

Requiem for Crimson

Shot to the head,
Something I read.
Pages a flurry,
Destroyed in a hurry.
Lines a-blur,
Am I crazy? Yes, sir!
Forgotten innocence,
Present decadence.
Remote sanity,
Alien humanity.
Single joy,
No more, A-hoy!
I work for death,
To it, my last breath.
I’dv righteously destroyed,
My creation alloyed,
Evil strain,
A line of our Bane,
For centuries, to choke,
Tried I, but failed! Called a joke!
Read, read more,
Until you are sore.
Pages of history,
Tell they o’me?
Show me who won,
Darkness or Sun.
I take leave today,
Depart from this fray.
What I couldn’t, immortal,
You child, with morals,
Chosen by chance,
Or for how you dance.
Time runs out.
Im sad, I pout,
Barely alive,
By enemy’s love I thrive.
Cast my colors,
Red’t white wonders.
My grave calls.
Reaching, I fall.
And so it ends.
Begin reading, my friends.

Renegade

[In which Arya Kane is trapped under some boulders. She had been tricked into coming to the battle front by Timbre and had been injured alone. She is also with child. Crimson finds her, but as he is about to kill her she begs to be spared, not for her sake but for the sake of the life inside her. Crimson is reminded of his own family and how much he loved them as a result of Elyian’s golden gun that also evoked memories of love. As a result Crimson fights the shadow within him who wants Arya dead and eventually takes out the wrong gun and shoots himself in the head. It was the golden gun, that is actually harmless but shoots Light into the darkest of people. After the shadow is expelled, Crimson lifts the boulder trapping Arya, and tells her to get out.]
“Run. Now. Get out.”
“Why… why are you doing this…” Arya stumbled out and faced the foe.
“I don’t know… Quickly! Before I am possessed again!”
Arya felt a surge of pity rise in her. “But to be possessed is your choice!”
“My will is weak. Out of course I will die. NOW RUN! TIME IS UP!”
Arya jumped back, stunned, and then turned to leave. As she scampered up the rubbish, she shielded her unborn child protectively. “It’s okay, It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
Below, Crimson released the boulder and it crashed onto the rubble with a grand crash. Violent explosions could be heard in the background. People screaming. Yes, what was he thinking? Iskorin, Isdore especially, would create this hell forever and ever again. They were an abomination, a plague, a curse. Devils incarnate, forsaking humanity as soon as they take their first breath. Why did he just save their spawn? Why did this Aureylien plant this trap? He looked over where Arya had been heading, but she was gone.
“Quick little insect.” He snarled. “This is the last time Ill ever let my guard down, the last time I will show mercy. Especially to a son or daughter of Isdore, no matter how young and innocent. They will rise again, even more terrible than the last.”
He took out his sword. “But now… I can’t worry about future perils. I must save the city…” A black mist began to hover over him. “Yes… I must save the city… from that wretched Renegade, as according to plan.”
[In which Cairn and Crimson battle face to face for the first time. Crimson causes havoc on the city while battling, and Cairn can do nothing but stand helpless. Crimson lies to Cairn, saying that Arya is dead and further elaborating how he got as powerful as he was, by the ring. Crimson leaves.]
“We’d better go Cairn… Victoria is not going to be happy about this… Cairn?” Timbre stopped and looked quizzically at their leader. Cairn was just standing there, his face soaked in blood and his arms were no better. It seemed like he was in a trance, but his eyes told different.
“Timbre, get back.” Lester appeared near him and hissed. “Things are not going to look good. Something’s wrong with him. Lets go before something happens that we all regret.”
They left. Quietly, and fearfully. Wondering how long it would be, until the broken missile, finally exploded. And he did.
Crimson looked back as he heard the new explosions and sounds of destruction. There was little left to destroy, and nothing left to kill. What Crimson had done, Cairn merely finished. The city would be completely leveled after this. “ What is it, Cairn Isdore, that broke you?” He mocked. “Was it the shame of loosing? Oh how pride drives us to madness and despair eh? Now you know my pain.” He twirled his baton for a moment. “Or is it something more raw and real. Is it the pain of loss? Who knew Isdore could actually feel eh? Especially a child of Edna White.” He put his hands on his hips as he saw the fireworks dying out. He had run out of energy, even that which was latent. “But then I remember, you are also a child of Caesar. A pitiful man was he. The most pitiful of all the Iskorin. Take him for a villain, but he is no more than a puppet. But all the same… now you know my pain…”
Crimson narrowed his eyes and looked at the shadow forming behind him.
“What is it you want? Im monologuing, can’t you see?”
“You let them escape!” The shadow hissed.
“Escape? Oh you mean Arya and her little pest.”
“Why?! Why did you fail!? Why did you cast me out!?”
Crimson sighed. “Oh I don’t know. It was a trap, set up by that Aureylien peasant I killed. Don’t worry, I won’t happen again.”
The shadow screeched, “THERE WONT BE AN AGAIN! THAT WAS THE LAST OPPORTUNITY TO KILL THAT CHILD!”
“Since when were you clairvoyant? And as far as I know, the Bombuburs would rather die systematically than let you see through their own mirrors.”
The shadow said grudgingly, “I have my ways… News travels fast in our world.”
“What’s so important about that child anyway? Will it be the next, Alcazer?”
“No… But, this line must be eliminated… it is not beneficial to… our plans… This weakens our forces, and sets us back 20 years, and time is of essence!”
“Well, sorry. But the results are as you commanded. Cairn Isdore is out of his mind, and won’t be sane for a good while, and the city is destroyed, saved from the empire, as according to plan.”
The shadow cursed.
“What now?”
“There is only one way you can amend for this trespass.”
Crimson’s chest began to burn furiously. The sign of Raisciot. He cried out and fell to the ground. His baton rolled out of his hands and dropped between the rubble.
“Do what I say now, without question. Or else you will receive more than just this!” The shadow hissed.
“W-what do you want.” gasped Crimson.
“You will find Orlaith Raye, and you will end her before the end of the month.”
Crimson’s eyes widened, but then they narrowed. “Daughter of Eylien Raye? Why her?”
“DO IT.”
The shadow disappeared. And Crimson was left gasping for air. Another seal had been scorched on his skin. “The things I do for you Cairn Isdore…This will be the tenth time… an innocent had to die… to protect you and your interests… not counting your mother of course…” He turned and look towards the city.
“But only you can end this… madness… I’ve seen the virtue within you… End the empire… and end Iskorin. For good.”