Feminism and the Roles of Characters

Changes For Female Characters

How do you feel about recent changes for women?

It has gotten more challenging to write female characters, especially now that the traditional role of women is being questioned. “The woman’s place is in the home” has receded into history and the permissible roles are changing. Yes, I chose the word “permissible” deliberately. There are still pressures regarding what a woman should and should not do and how she should act. This is an evolutionary process. And it affects how we develop fictional characters.

Greater Challenge

And so the author has to decide upon what a female character should be like or at least should attend to how they may be affected by contemporary views. Of course, if we are writing fiction a woman can do anything the author wants her to do. And then we will see how the reading public reacts. This raises the possibility for the author of challenging views and change. Of course, there is the matter of wanting people to buy your books.

Off Into a Changing world

And so I set off into the world of fiction and fantasy. The setting was contemporary which conditioned certain choices. And that can be challenging. There is a context for the present but if we are writing into the future there are many more contexts that become available.In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy these were women chosen for roles to lead us into the future and related to whether that future will be fulfilling or disastrous.

In history and in the present women certainly have had a variety of roles whether we approved of them or not. In this instance I began with a role where the Andromeda women were the consorts of rich, powerful and greedy men. I wanted them to be people readers could relate to and not simply courageous women who sought wealth and ease. They had to have values even if they were hidden. And implicit is that just because they are consorts they are in no way despoiled. They are their own person and have their mission. In fact they deserve recognition and praise.

What Will Women Think!

It would have been complicated to weave the history of the warrior women of ancient near Asia into the story for context purposes. It was inspiring to come to understand this part of history and the Andromeda women had to stand on their own. Of course they were not uniform and had their personal stories. I came to appreciate them more and more as I got deeper into the books. I’m pleased to say that so far I’m finding that women appreciate them. I think we all fundamentally understand that challenge in life is highly variable as is adaptability depending on need.

Coming to Comfort

The theme of an end to subjugation of women and their empowerment is woven deep into the story. I admired these “gutsy” women. They are smart and tenacious. Certainly they are not passive and retiring. They are who they are and they have joined a cause and that relates to what is happening for women and all of us now. Women have a growing opportunity to fulfill their talent and potential. And that in turn leads to value for all of us. It is truly a pleasure to see recent revelations about what women have suffered under predatory men and that those men are now suffering consequences. It is not all over, but increasingly we will now see women stepping foreword and they will receive broad support. It is more than about time for #MeToo.` 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Search for Matriarchy

 

What does matriarchy mean to you?

We Seem To Be Having a Debate

Was there a time in human history when matriarchal (matriarchy meaning female rulership) societies dominated and then were replaced with serial patriarchy which is where we are now? There seems to be real passion involved and terms such as matriarchalism, matrifocal and matrilineal swirl through the debate.

Notable in the debate is the book The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why An Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future by Cynthia Eller. Eller is described as setting out “to refute what she describes as feminist matriarchalism as an ‘ennobling lie’”. From what I could see this does not seem to be a dispassionate academic debate. Naturally it is a little hard to rush back into history and see exactly what happened. And reports may be biased. Surprise, surprise. 

And then there is the question of how to characterize periods of rule by women. In fact, Britain has a rather long history. Was the time of Queen Elizabeth 1 a matriarchy? How about Queen Victoria and the current queen? Somehow I think matriarchy is a little over the top as a description. Men did not exactly fade away.

Goddesses Are Prominent 

Throughout history women have held various kinds of power. Goddesses are prominent in human history and we invoke some truly strong imagery. We describe our planet as being ruled by an earth mother and mother nature is always with us. In fact, I chose Gaia as our Earth Goddess for my trilogy because it invoked the images I sought. Clearly many of the images relate to the fact that each of us has a mother. These are archetypes (recurrent symbols and motifs) with substantive meaning. I do not view them as part of the debate. Something else is going on.

Part of what is going on seems to be an underlying debate about whether patriarchal dominance is inevitable or whether it is a matter of dominance at this time. But, now I’m going to shift gears. The inevitability of male dominance is unlikely and at issue and we are seeing a new movement empowering women. 

Then There Are the Feminist Movements

There are other terms of interest. The women’s movement of the 1970s is described as the second wave of feminism. At the time it caught my attention and I found it well worth supporting. And more recently came the third-wave feminist movement beginning in the 1990s. It apparently arose from the backlash against second-wave feminism initiatives. And now we have something called the current feminist sex wars. That seems apt in describing the controversy flowing around Eller’s book. 

Debate Versus Goals

Now I’ll ask the question which is the real point of this post. Why are we having this debate at all? Do we have to decide if there is some great given right for men to rule now and forever or if women are brought in to rule and is it to become eternal. What a monumental waste of time.

At some point we risk wish replacing thought. That description may characterize the debate since there are surely different agendas behind the scene. And so, let me return to Sally Armstrong’s book Uprising: A New Age Is Dawning for Every mother’s Daughter. She describes the movement worldwide and the benefits derived.

Benefits and Justice

It would seem more productive if we focused on the benefits and what constitutes justice of all kinds. As noted, we hear little about the real reason for income inequality, for example. A lot of cards are not on the table when it comes to equality for women and that would be a better focus for analysis and understanding as well as outing the perpetrators.

Equality and Partnership 

It might be interesting to view the effects of matriarchy, matrifocal societies and matrilineal processes but it may be they are not going to give guidance in the current circumstances. It would seem more productive to accept the benefits of empowerment of women and to look at the barriers to equality and partnership in our present day. Then we can set an agenda and do away with squabbles about history. We have work to do in the here and now.

What are your biggest concerns about health care?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Image of Woman

 

If you were to construct one essential image of a woman, what would you choose?

Broadening Our views

This is such an interesting time in human history. There are so many possibilities. I’ll try to focus. 

Our image of ourselves is changing and diverging. When I was a kid, Leave It To Beaver was on television and a show called Father Knows Best. These were All-American families with a central male character and the woman was the housewife. What else was there? We were to find out.

Gradually our view broadened. We learned we had single parent families and divorce became more and more prominent possibly because women had more options. Steadily diversity was recognized.

Fast Forward

I won’t try to follow all the twists and turns. Now we come to a new century and there was a stunning development. I remember the two “maiden ladies” down the street and the sad specter of the lifelong bachelor. We now have new thoughts about who they might have been. And then suddenly we had the recognition of LGBT and actually (over strenuous opposition) allowed gay marriage.

At the personal level the catalogue of options is steadily expanding. As a kid I loved science and liked to tinker with our television. If I had been a little older at the time I would have been a member of a rocket building club. Wernher von Braun was my hero. If I were a child today I would be one incredible geek. My computer would be my home. Some of these choices are easy and others are more difficult.

Back to Women

Women’s roles are diverging. We are pounding on the glass ceiling and maybe some day soon we will openly deal with income inequality and the right of women to make their own decisions. No doubt you have your own catalogue of complaints about that issue. 

What I am finding fascinating are the efforts to build a pantheon of roles which a woman can maintain at her discretion. Yes, for some reason I want to call it a pantheon because there are glorious elevated choices. When we view a large celebration we see an interesting collection of people. Mostly the men look rather similar in dark suits of various kinds. Women are far more diverse and it hints at a more fundamental diversity.

It seems now a woman can display an allure in one setting and take on an image of power and competence of a different kind in another setting. And, again, I have to wonder if that isn’t part of the problem men are having with the empowerment of women.

Stepping Back

Posts in a blog are supposed to be relatively short and this subject doesn’t lend itself well to a blog post because the more you think about it, the more complex the issues become. Leadership by women can be explicit or implicit which is also true for men but in a different way. How do we define these differences and what do they mean and where will it lead us?

Women can be magnificent beauty objects in one setting and a powerful leader in another. Women are adept at accessing and utilizing vastly different roles. And is that part of the problem? This diversity in image and setting seems troubling to us. We were more comfortable with Father Knows Best. 

What do you think is going on and what are your thoughts?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health? by Roger B. Burt

Women in Power

 

The Depth of Nicole

In my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy Nicole Cloutier brought a whole different set of values and weapons to the Andromeda. Once again her origins for this series was not at all clear. She came and offered an irresistible set of talents and powers. Of course such women are found in various forms throughout history across our world. But she had a special heritage.

The Pain and Wonder of Haiti

The history of Haiti is intriguing. It was a colony of France and gave France considerable wealth until a bloody rebellion freed the people of this Caribbean island. Unfortunately the freedom did not lead to a glorious future. To this day we see an island of poverty beset by hurricanes and earthquakes.

A Rich History

Haiti has continued to nurture rich African traditions. Perhaps to many of us it is the mystery of their religion which intrigues us most. It was displayed in motion pictures from long ago and we know a central component as Voodoo. They call it Vodun. There are books which relate to the setting of their struggles and from time to time we see the heritage in America.

What Nicole Brought

To Andromeda Nicole brought depth of  richness fromHaitian traditions. She was a mulatto woman born into a privileged family in the ruling class. What she brought to the trilogy  began as innocence but with an in depth understanding and regard for the culture of Vodun. While she had privilege she also seemed to have regard for the power inherent in the mysterious traditions of Africa. 

From an early age she was drawn to the occult and it was as if it was ordained that she become conversant with the spirit world. It was that world that brought power and understanding. At the same time she had at her command the power of substances which could be lethal or heal.

Adapting to a New World

Coming to Europe she showed that she was able to relate skillfully to new cultures while harboring skills and knowledge useful for her position in Andromeda. It meant, in her interface with the Overlords that she was truly dangerous, even lethal, in a way they could not comprehend. Her facility with the nether world meant she could relate to and adapt to the spirit world in all its manifestations. And, in the end it would seem that she had been ordained and she could relate to what would almost surely become something essential for the eventual development of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health? by Roger B. Burt

A Focus on Society And Its Change – Partnership

Imagine What May Be At Our Doorstep

And now we turn to our future and what may be the potential. Women have raised the torch of their empowerment high and it is now for men to respond and join them. Men have their own empowerment at issue. What seems like power can be in many senses a reflection of the fact that too often men have been feeling powerless. That takes some thought. And when we come together in an honest dialogue in the light of this new era we can help men overcome some of their own burdens. This bears repeating because men are burdened as well.

Our Contributions To Society

This is not just about justice for women. We have a chance to enhance our societies. From time to time societies need to do an in depth reevaluation and this is one of those times. We may begin by examining ourselves and then move on to society as well. What opportunity does this bring to us? We must go much farther than simply saying this abuse must stop. It is a time for self examination, examination of the traits of society and a search of what has now come on the horizon. This is not a time to simply say men must stop the harassment and abuse. This is a time to look at what opportunities this presents to us. We have been wasting so much of the potential of our people. And it is not just a matter of opening their potential to full flower. At present what women are presenting to us is foremost and they walk hand in hand with people raising issues of race and ethnicity. These issues are not that far apart.

What is truly disturbing is that we have highlighted the need for a substantial reevaluation of all these issues. Change is needed but there are people who stand in the way “in the schoolhouse door”.

Expanded Horizons

When we expand the horizons of examination there is a multiplying effect as we explore the possibilities. These changes will have broad consequences. And now we can seize the opportunity to shape those consequences. It is not just a matter of cataloguing a list of issues. We need to scan for potential. It is when we go into crisis that there are monumental opportunities.

One Of The Key Issues Is Devotion To Partnership

And now with the opportunities unfolding before us we have one truly precious opportunity.
The very concept of partnership must be studied. With these changes we have the opportunity for substantive change in partnership between men and women but also a new form of partnership between and among men. We have recently opened to view loving partnership in paired men and paired women. We have opened self transformation and recognition as in transgender people. But now we advance a whole new frontier. The front of liberation has expanded and we can only begin to wonder about the benefits for society and the world at large. We have been so restrictive and now we can explore our multitude of partnerships. There truly may be a dynamic future for us as we unburden ourselves from constricting baggage.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women In Power

 

Above is the true inner Luisa

Luisa the Kitten

Luisa Penza is one of the most prominent warrior women in Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power. Of all the women she is closest to Brigid Lynch, their leader.

Of course each of the characters in this series had a role to play and Luisa was on the list of prominent Andromeda women but her character developed considerably as the writing progressed.

Who She Came To Be

Luisa is from a prominent and wealthy Primal family in Italy. She could have simply accepted that position and reveled in the wealth and comfort. At one point she was sent to boarding school in Virginia. It featured a wonderful stable of horses but Luisa found other outlets. By the end of her second year the school considered her too “naughty” and sent her home. But sometimes people just have to be who they are and she wanted challenge. And so she came back to Italy to build a life she chose. In the Andromeda and the company of Brigid she found a true companion. In fact, she kept on surprising Brigid. Initially she was seen as a “sex kitten”. She was darling and irresistibly engaging to men. But, of course, her position demanded much more of her and she fulfilled her missions admirably. Her choice was to use her qualities of being sensitive, lush and smart to serve her people well.

Out of History

At the beginning of the series the Andromeda women took positions so common for such women in history. They became consorts for wealthy and powerful men. In doing so they made themselves vulnerable in a number of ways. Such women are often seen as compromised and despoiled. In history sex outside of marriage caused women to be shamelessly critiqued. Luisa knew better and one of her strengths was that she found ways to enjoy what she was doing, but at a personal price. There was an independence of thought and assessment which told her she was doing what needed to be done.

Sustaining Herself

Luisa’s inner self was powerful and surprising to people who truly got to know her. Yes, she was kitten-like and loved the passion with the men she was engaging and from whom she was extracting intelligence. Her belief in herself always sustained her. And in the end she could be dangerous and strike with brutality if necessary.

Where She Came From

Given the general form of the story, the women of the Andromeda were chosen to ensnare powerful, greedy men. And such men often are fools enough not to know how powerful women can be in their own right. Each of the women had their own characteristics and diversity was chosen. Luisa, as the sensuous gamine, was a logical choice. But after “hiring” her she proved to be surprising and took over her role in ways not designed initially. This was a process that often surprised this author. But I had to own it and develop it. After all I strongly support the empowerment of women and these women were perfect vehicles for demonstrating the independence of women and that they can make their own choices. Society may try to see them as despoiled. But if they choose not to be, then that is how it is whether others like it or not. They confront our errant prejudices and how our future must be to develop the potential of humankind. Diversity, strength and independence of choice must be available pathways for all of us. What I had chosen in these women was part of our essential future.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Issues For and From Men

 

Again I come back to asking men to examine themselves and their culture. The change there must be on the horizon is not up to women alone. While there were men who were wise and made crucial contributions in the past, there are also many men in history who had devastating effects.

Exercising Power to Dominate Others

One of the issues most often noted when we discuss abuses by men is the issue of power. We see efforts to dominate and control others. Certainly women see this especially in the way women are subjugated. When men introspect many often see this issue as a force in their own lives. It begins early and may be displayed in peer groups and in the form of “leadership” they exercise in such groups. And later certainly it comes up in business and military settings of all kinds. Bullies portray it and it comes out in sports. Less often it is at issue in school performance which has an objective measure.

Widespread Manifestation

Over a lifetime these themes are manifested in ever so many settings and is something that men suffer as well as women. But women have suffered more and it is still at issue. It may be domination in meetings, harassment by other workers in various forms. Thus, it comes out in competition of all kinds, even in adult life. It is rarely brought up but it is something that we all must contend with. Now is the time when it should begin to be highlighted.

Power as a display of sexual supremacy

But the primary issue placed before us now is the issue of sexual domination and harassment. The matter begins early. “Did you get any?” one boy may ask another. Real men are supposed to be preeminently successful in not just winning favor but in taking it. Certainly when this topic is brought up it is frequently greeted with insistent denial. But, no matter how we try to push it away, there is an implicit theme especially among men at a younger age. Of course, it then carries over to later in life. It may be a matter of competition and personal belief that a man should take sexual domination because power of all kinds is the province of men—supposedly. Too often it is not examined as a principle which is right or a valid pursuit.

Failure to Examine Supports Abuse

Of course, especially to the degree that it is not examined, it may support abuse of all kinds—even molestation and rape. It may feed issues of self esteem and perceptions of strength among male peer groups.

It cannot be overestimated how much there are underlying issues in male culture. Any attempt to raise them usually leads to denial, even anger at its mention. Certainly men don’t want to discuss it with and before women especially as we enter the era of empowering women. But they do not relish opening the issues with each other either. It is a touchy and difficult subject.

It Must Be Dealt With

But again I come back to the necessity for men to air it among themselves at last. Among each other is where it should begin in an honest environment. If there is resistance, then we must ask, in a forthright fashion, why and for what reasons.

These core issues lay the groundwork for our future. The power of men is eroding whether they like it or not and realignment for the future requires the retirement of denial.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt