Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Rant on the Modern "Hero" and the Women Writers who Create Them

I’m recycling a blog post I wrote in 2011 because I’m reading A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness and it’s conjuring up some old, long ago feelings. But before I repeat myself, can I just ask—WHAT IS IT WITH THE WOMEN OF THE 21st CENTURY THAT ATTRACTS THEM TO GUYS LIKE MATTHEW CLAIRMONT (obsessive, possessive and controlling) CHRISTIAN GREY (I admit it, I’m one of the few females on the planet that didn’t read 50 Shades of Grey but according to the back blurb, “Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control”) and EDWARD CULLEN?
Is no one charmed by witty, intelligent, thoughtful men? Men who are loving, considerate, and supportive? Men who get that you have a life, hopes and dreams, and that you are not merely an accessory or toy to decorate their life?
Seriously, girls, someone explain this to me. Why are we breaking into sweats over controlling, possessive ego-maniacs? When Diana the witch (A Discovery of Witches) discovers that her life is in danger, why does she hide out in Matthew’s chateau in a room where anyone who means her harm will have to go through Matthew? I’m currently at the chateau and it seems to me that all Diana is doing is taking long naps and drinking a lot of wine. I hope she’ll pluck up some nerve and start brushing up on her witchcraft so she can protect herself, because if she doesn’t, I won’t be finishing this book. I get that she blames witchcraft for her parent’s deaths, but once she feels so seriously threatened that she’s forced into hiding, wouldn’t any self-respecting witch devote herself to the tricks of her inherited trade? At this point, I’m so mad at her weanie-ness, and so disgusted by Matthew’s twisted possessiveness, all I can say is…well, pretty much the same thing I said three years ago.
Here it is:
The Breaking Dawn Premier and What I Learned about Boys from Carly Simon, November, 2011 kristystories.blogspot.com

I’m sure that anyone not living beneath rock knows that last night was the midnight premier of Breaking Dawn (part one.) My brilliant, straight A, academic pentathlon competitor daughter is (seriously) the president of Tesoro High School’s Twilight Club. Yesterday she and her band of Twi-hards wrapped themselves up in blankets and were the first in line for the show.

I’ve no doubt that when Rob Pat showed his glistening face on the big screen that she and her friends screamed. Maybe they even swooned when the werewolves took off their shirts. Today my brilliant daughter went to school proudly wearing her Twilight t-shirt. I hope she screamed, I hoped she swooned, I’m happy she has a vampire shirt, but—when it comes to real boys, real flesh and blood boys, I hope she’ll listen to the best boy advice I ever heard. It came from Carly Simon.

I personally don’t know the love life status of Ms. Simon. I hope she’s happy. I know that she divorced James Taylor years ago. It’s interesting to me that a romance writer I admire who has written more than 36 New York Times Bestsellers is in her sixties has had two very brief marriages that both ended in divorce. Writing and singing romance is very different from living romance. Here’s Ms. Simon’s advice. It’s from a song Titled Boys in the Trees
I’m home again in my old narrow bed
Where I grew tall and my feet hung over the edge
The low beam room with the window looking out
On the soft summer garden where the boys grew in the trees.
Here I grew guilty
And no one was at fault
Frightened by the power of every innocent thought
And the silent understanding passing down
From daughter to daughter
Let the boys grow in the trees.
Do you go to them or do you let them come to you
Do you stand in back afraid that you’ll intrude
Deny yourself and hope someone will see
And live like a flower
While the boys grew in the trees.

So, to my daughter and to all the daughters—it’s okay to scream and swoon at characters in books and on movie screens, but when it comes to real boys, real flesh and blood boys—let them grow in the trees while you do what you need to do to be your very best self. Take the hardest math classes. Practice your guts out and audition for the very best choirs. Swim as hard and as fast as you can so that you can wear the medal at the meets. Rehearse the monologues that will make the audience cheer. Write the essays that will bring tears to reader’s eyes. And let the boys grow in the trees.

While you are your path, going where you want to go, trying to become as brilliant and talented as you possibly can be, eventually, you will meet others on the same path who share your goals. If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone to hold your hand as you walk that path.

That person won’t be hanging out in your bedroom after you’ve fallen asleep--he’ll be too busy with the very hardest math classes, swimming or singing and such. His disappearance won’t drive you to suicidal activities like cliff jumping into the waters of Washington’s Coast--he’ll be too sensitive to your feelings and goals to ever want to cause you that sort of pain. (Honestly, has Mrs. Meyers ever been swimming in the Pacific in the Northwest? It is darn cold.) He won’t pick you up and carry you away from danger—you have to do that by yourself and for yourself.

Oh, how I hope you will.


  1. So glad to discover I am not alone in this! Thanks for the great blog post.

  2. Excellent, Kristy! I'm reading A Discovery of Witches now and wondering when Diana is going to "woman up."