Bravery is a hard characteristic to come by and I have not always been able to describe myself with that word. However, starting in 2016 I certainly became more brave and it felt empowering. In fact a lot of what I plan to write about and the true motivator for me to finally write is focused on empowerment. We are in an age of women's liberations and overall justice and equality for all. Truthfully that fire was not always present inside my being and I was always known as the "shy girl" to the point I became very submissive. I allowed people to use me as a doormat rather than expect them to treat me as an equally deserving person, that should be respected. The reason I want to take a moment to talk about this is because I know there are plenty others out there that are just how I was, and frankly I still require some work at being less passive. Still, I have grown a fair amount in the last few years. With the discovery that I am allowed to stand up for myself and deserve the respect I give to others, I have become that brave girl I always admired in books. Yes, books have been an immense inspiration to who I am. In fact, I started reading at a very early age and found great comfort in the words that came to life as I read them. I have fond memories of going to school library sales and buying books upon books. They would range anywhere from children's books to non-fiction, historical literature. These pages full of rich and imaginative words got me through so many difficult life situations. Most impactful towards me was the books with strong female characters. One of those characters or rather a mythical god, Athena, arose as my all time favorite. She was intelligent, wise, brave, and carried a strength I admired. To this day I see her in a lot of the female protagonists within the books I read. With all that said, I must embolden to any woman at any age, stand your ground. Believe in yourself and do not let anyone get in the way! Fear is a powerful feeling but it can be defeated, I can attest to that. Standing up for what you believe in or what you want to do is OK and does not make you an unsatisfactory person. I will now follow this up with some books I recently devoured and found inspirational towards this topic. They were full of powerful female characters that fought for what they felt was right or stood their ground against those that tried to demean their dignity.
The first book tackles female empowerment and contained a LGBTQ romance. "Of Fire and Stars" by Audrey Coulthurst is a LGBTQ fantasy novel that follows the story of two princesses that inevitably fall in love despite their given circumstances. However, one of the pivotal concepts of this stories plot line is that homophobia does not even exist in their world. Wow, why can not our real world be written by fantasy writers? Imagine an universe not corrupted by hate or judgement. Mind you one of the main characters, Princess Amaranthine, is a strong woman that does not represent what we think of a princess. The book starts with Princess Dennaleia, the other main character, who has been arranged to marry the prince of Mynaria since childhood but has a secret (dun dun dun). As she embarks on her journey she encounters his sister, Princess Amaranthine. As stated previously Princess Mare (for short) is not your stereotypical princess. She's strong, witty, and courageous. The story also includes Mare's love for horses (hence her nickname) and she spends most of her time riding and training them. In fact Amaranthine is quite the wild woman much like a wild mare. Now all things considered with her being your atypical princess, that does not mean her family approves of her being. Frankly, her family refuses to accept her untamed characteristics and wishes she was a better influence on Denna when she arrives. I will not give away the entire plot as to leave some suspense to the readers but needless to say the princesses do indeed fall in love. Being the opposites of one another yet so much the same it was bound to occur. This book is a very important read, especially for youth. I feel the majority of our youth is actually being accustomed to not relying on hate. Improvement is needed but we have come a far distance to where we were decades ago. A distance that now makes it acceptable to write books such as this one. We now encourage writing that involves a variety of races, social standings, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
Margaret Atwood has written many novels that touch on bravery and gender equality issues. She is great at writing dystopian and post apocalyptic style genres. In fact, I have found through my love of the dystopian genre that gender often plays an intense role in plots and motives within those types of books. I have enjoyed multiple books that Atwood has written but my favorite is "The Handmaid's Tale". This may not come as a surprise, since it is a hit tv show as of late. Many people have raved about the television series and had much to say on it's premises. As you may already know the television series is an adaption of Atwood's popular novel. The tv series is much like it's counterpart and it brings the book's characters and story to life beautifully. I would go as far as saying it is one of my favorite book to cinema adaptations ever made. The story is based on a futuristic world which is very much dystopian, at least for the female characters. June or Offred is the main protagonist and she is far different from the other women that are being mistreated in this novel. She is not exactly strong in an obvious way. However, she shows her strength through wit and her inner being. She knows what kind of world she is in and that she should be quiet about her thoughts of rebelling against it. That does not mean she has no plans of breaking free from her man-made prison or that she is weak. No, she is just smart about it and plots within herself on finding a way to get her family back. That's why I am mentioning this book in this specific blog post. It does pertain to the issues of women's inequality and finding how to be brave in a terrifying world. But, I want to bring attention to how she is brave in a different way than what we may normally think. Not everyone shows bravery in the usual manner we associate it with. She's not physically tough nor does she outwardly speak up for herself. Rather, her strength comes from within. She does not let those who are trying to take her power away from her succeed and they have no idea she is strong. Sometimes as women we are made to hold back and not stand up for ourself because of fear. Yet, on the inside we stay strong and fight back by not letting those captors of our freedom take away our spirit. June does just that , and I won't give away the ending in case you have not read the book, but she may or may not succeed in escaping her captors. The fact is she eventually has enough of holding her tongue and holding back from taking action to break free from her restraints. That takes courage, strength, and bravery and I commend anyone who it like her. She may be a fictional character but she is the most realistically built female protagonist I have ever read about in a novel. There were times I felt disgusted and angry reading this book but there were also times I felt empowered and hopeful. Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" gives a realistic take on what our world could be if the wrong people ruled it and gained power. She also gives us a strong female character that can help women of any age realize they can face whatever is placed in front of them.
Last but definitely not least, I read "The Lone City" series by Amy Ewing. Let me start off by saying this book epitomized the strength of women if they come together. Much like the movements we currently have that have inspired many women to stand together and fight against a misogynistic world. This novel is about a futuristic, fantasy style world that is built around "The Jewel", the inner most part of a kingdom like city. The main character, Violet, at first seems to be a weak character similar to June in "The Handmaid's Tale". In fact, this is very much like that novel but with some added action scenes. You will find both protagonists have similar world's and issues. Violet is in a world where girls are trained to become surrogates for the royals. The royals are unable to produce children and purchase these girls at an auction. Violet is purchased by the Duchess Of the Lake and soon finds out her life is in more danger than she could even imagine. Very soon after her arrival to her new home she meets a boy that she falls for and he reshapes her entire purpose without making he dependent. What I loved about this series is that she was allowed to fall in love but instead of becoming dependent on a boy, she grew stronger for herself. I have discovered that is what real love is, positively changing for yourself and having a person that supports you no matter what. Violet realizes she has found love and it gives her a strength she did not know she even possessed. Her courage inside ignites and makes her grow as a human being with a purpose. That purpose being to stop those that are taking away people's freedoms. The series follows her journey in rebelling against a corrupt world that is very inhumane. She never gives up and only gets more motivation to conquer the royals. To add onto the already action packed plot, the girls are born with magical powers which also is a difference between the aforementioned novel. They can control things, especially things dealing with Mother Nature, which I find fascinating and interconnected with the feminist theme of this story. When they come together as one, they use their powers to combat the people who made them feel so small. We can all be inspired by this story. Inspired to never give up on ourselves or let people bury us in negativity. We are in control of our lives and what we make of it. If you don't try at all you might as well say you've failed. I'd rather fail by trying than by default. I salute the authors that have created these powerful female characters for the young and old female generations to be inspired by. I have always found that books have an impact on who I am as a person. I feel as if books can give so much to our society that is so desperately in need of some powerful and positive influence. Who knows where our world may be in 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now. We could be in a place where objectification against women is no longer thought of or it could become worse. If we continue to fight for what is right, equality, then we can prevent our future generations from suffering with our same battles. Current battles that are so important in order for our society to grow and prosper. And as my piece of jewelry included into this post says, "To thine own self be true" (Shakespeare). A quote we should all live by.