A while ago, I decided to put under self-scrutiny my unrelenting fascination–nay, addiction–to heroines. Read that again, and check the spelling–I don’t mean the chauvinistically spelled chemical downer but the concept encompassing all the virtues and vices of strong women. How can I be so addicted to both admiring heroines in every form of storytelling available to me (from books, movies, and films to freaking blogs) and writing/creating such characters in my own stories?
Perhaps it’s genetic, for my great-grandfather and my grandfather, both of whom I admire, proved with their histories (such as the way they raised their daughters and with whom they romantically involved themselves) that they too shared such an addiction to heroines. Perhaps my addiction stems from the overwhelmingly obvious influence of strong women in my own life, thanks to an upbringing machinated by fierce she-wolves and amazons, supportive fairy godmothers, and inspiring muses. Yet, I figured that there should be a more personal explanation beyond the almost-cliched nurture-or-nature aspect of my circumstance. Or at least I could construct and deconstruct some philosophical-sounding explanation that I could fall back on in the future during interviews and press panels.
After much reflection and a spiraling journey analyzing past experiences and stories, I think I’ve come to the best conclusion I’ll be able to concoct. And I know that’s the case because not until now have I had the urge of writing about my verdicts in the matter.
I’m addicted to heroines, mainly to writing them and about them, simply because I’ve come to realize that they’re not only fascinating but also extremely rare creatures. Before, since most (if not all) women in my world would fit so easily within the category or archetype, I believed that strong women were, to put it in a word, “normal”. However, bitter experience and a broader view of reality has taught me the contrary–they’re the extraordinary exceptions among a population of, well, the mediocre. As muse-expert Pablo Picasso would put it: “There are only goddesses and doormats”–and there’s no abundance of the former. They’re fascinating and rare to a mythological level, for their lack of perfection constitutes the source of their power and appeal. Their flaws and character imbalances would cripple most individuals, while those work for them as precisely the traits that prompt their grandeur and strength, either by reaction (by that I mean that in their struggle to overcome a vice or tragedy they develop their strength) or by alchemy (meaning that a bad trait becomes good in the combination of their personality and circumstances).
I’m addicted to heroines as well because humanity and the entire world depends on them to survive and excel. It’s no coincidence that all cultures deem nature as a female higher power. Civilization has survived and evolved thanks to strong women and their figures, thriving on the empowering influence of the Athenas and the Valkyries, the inspiration brought by the Muses, the traumatizing motherly pressures of the Olympias, the unmanly rule and lead of the Elizabeths, Victorias, and Joan of Arcs, and the norm-defying spirits kindled by the Sor Juanas and Amelia Earharts. A single strong woman has more power to reshape history than most of the prominent men doing so as well–who most likely themselves were inspired or pushed towards greatness by a strong woman. After all, there would’ve been no classic Fitzgerald without Zelda, no everlasting Diego without Frida, and no triumphant Odysseus without Athena’s favor and Penelope’s love.
And in comparison to everyone else, heroines have more complexities and layers of their selves that resembles a barbwire mesh of self-reliance, insecurities, self-determination, sex appeal, manipulation, independence, ambition, drive, uncertainties, defiance, beauty, doubts, overcompensation, strength, and, above all, passion that vexes and hexes their worlds.
Whereas mediocre men are plebeian and simple, mediocre women are predictable at worst, and great men tend to be tragically haunted, great women encompass, represent, and provoke much more. Ultimately, great women, whether they be goddesses, muses, or mothers, stand out in mythology, history, and reality as the most heroic–as mighty and phenomenal as the foam of the sea, like the Ancient Greeks would relish in symbolizing. And I happen to find such addicting heroine stories truly worth writing about…