I am the Dragon

I am the.png

I wasn’t going to write about The Thief again, as I’ve moved on to the new Thea Harrison and Faith Hunter books… but I couldn’t resist.  Life has imitated art recently. I’ve had to get up close and personal with anachronistic idiots who haven’t gotten the memo about modern women. Bottom line up front:  I am not a princess and I don’t need saving. I’m a queen and I got this shit handled (to quote a Twitter meme). But why in the 21st century is this shit still on women’s ‘to do’ list? This queen has more important shit to handle.

One of themes running through The Thief, by J.R. Ward explores how various men view women—generally as a gender, and specifically as humans. The book offers a number of perspectives on the spectrum of opinions about a woman’s place, her value and the prejudices against her both explicit and subtle.

As The Thief shows us, there are many kinds of women, just as there are many kinds of men. In J.R. Ward’s world, both genders can be badass; they clad themselves in leather and shitkickers and fight for all they are worth. They can also be healers and counselors and homemakers and parents. None of these roles is mutually exclusive to the others.

The truth is that I wish this fantasy were real. In the real world, we have the misguided Madonna/whore dichotomy. This piece of nonsense divides women into two categories based on their sexual expression. This is the whole, “Do you kiss your babies with that filthy mouth?” scenario. In response I would ask, “Is your big head capable of independent thought, or is your cognitive ability inexorably linked to your gonads?”  Unfortunately, labeling women is a universal undertaking. In mythological archetypes, we find the classic maiden/ mother/crone categories. Sometimes, the crone archetype is represented as a wise (read “old”) woman or a witch. Which is only marginally less offensive. 

As a woman who is definitely no maiden, and whose children are just about to leave home, I’m here to tell you that I have no interest in being labeled a crone. Nor in looking like one. I am not ready to hang up my sky high pumps or my little black dress or my bikini. There has to be another stage in there. Let’s call these women, myself included, the warriors. We’ve been around long enough to know our minds and our hearts, giving us the confidence to kick the butts of those asses determined to pigeonhole us into boxes where we don’t belong. There are so many women “of a certain age” (WTF, by the way?) who consistently and gloriously defy these limiting labels. I count myself among them. All my amazing friends, too. 

Labels are convenient and probably necessary to live in the world and differentiate between friend and foe. But when the labels get in the way of seeing the person in front of us, then it’s time to re-examine our preconceived notions. For example, I’m working for a man who sees himself as a gentleman. He almost certainly thinks of most women as “ladies,” which engenders a certain kind of behavior toward them. I take no umbrage at a man holding my door or pulling out my chair (although I certainly don’t expect it or think less or differently about those men who don’t). The problem is that for this particular kind of gentleman, his behavior is derived from a world view in which by offering such physical deference, he conveys his belief that women need protecting or saving or some such shit. 

If the price of that kind of deference is an obligation to submit to the superiority of that big, strong male, let me off this train immediately. This “gentleman” has been heard to say that men have only one thing on their minds, and it’s not conversation. His courtly behavior masks a more lecherous inclination. When it comes time to pay the piper, and the price for his manners is a little nudge-nudge, wink-wink from the fairer sex. Just yuck. 

This is the same kind of thinking that, taken to a more insidious extreme, forces women to cover or mutilate themselves to avoid tempting men. Thus, we have the burkas, and the wigs and the hijabs. No tempting the men! Please don’t feed the animals! And they call us the weaker sex?! You’ve got to be kidding me. 

Traditionally, it is never a man’s fault when he can’t control his base instincts. It’s our fault for inspiring them. News flash, dickwads: we’re not doing anything wrong. It’s the 21st century. We’re allowed to do whatever we want. And that doesn’t give you permission to leer, touch or grope. Anything. Without permission. Check out the tea and consent video. So easy even a five-year-old can understand it. 

But we were talking about labels and how to change them to shift the balance of control. Madonnas, whores, maidens, mothers and crones. Warriors and queens.  So, let me clarify, for myself and all the other women out there: Don’t fashion me a maiden who needs saving from the dragon. I am the dragon