I think stories are powerful because they are rich with characters and values one can relate to and identify with. I read stories because I want to be drawn into a world of possibilities, enjoy the action and return to reality with newfound strength for personal growth. When I find characters like myself succeeding I feel validation that I’m moving in the right direction. When I see inspiring parts of the characters that aren’t usually my stronghold (confidence, courage etc.), I feel empowered to maybe, somehow, express it outwardly, once in a while, perhaps.
There is an infinite number of stories out there that can be told and retold to anyone who is willing to listen to them, which makes it impossible for one to not find stories that touch them in a very special way.
I don’t really know when it started, but I’ve developed a habit of supporting stories written by females, about females.
Interestingly my earliest memory of a book is a chinese story book about the Little Mermaid, and it is the version where she turns into bubbles. (I have since lost the book, which is such a regret.)
But yea, I decided that stories about females – fictional or non-fictional – really draw me in since it is just easier to relate to. It’s like common sense when you realise it right? But you know, you go through the whole process. You first like fictional Princesses, then realise they are no good role models unless you only want a prince in your life and have a huge amount of self-pity. You then move on to (nope, not the Princes) real-life heroes – for me they were mostly political ones and well they were mostly males. And then you realised you don’t get the same deal as them, since you are female.
Since representation is always the problem, we females will simply have to dig a little deeper, have a bit more google SEO skills to discover those gems.
Okay, let’s get to the stories.
The History Chick is one of my favourite sources, and this two weeks I have been listening to their series on females who have ran for President in America’s history, Belva Lockwood and Shirley Chisholm.
I also listened to the Halloween Special which was on Lizzie Borden, the woman who could have murdered her parents (hacking her stepmothers’ face, and splitting her father’s eyeball in half, to put it simply). The interesting part was how her house had no corridors, and how you can stay in the house now, if you dare to. This link shows a picture of the floor plan, and one person’s experience.
(I just google-imaged and saw the picture of the dad’s dead body sigh.)
Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one
I also enjoyed the one on Mulan, which basically raised the issue of Oriental representation by Hollywood as well, which is always quite as usual, pretty nasty and definitely worth exploring.
This reminds me of the episode on Chinese American Stars and Entertainers of Old Hollywood by Lazlo Montgomery, which is really the story of Anna May Wong, who was not cast as the main Asian character because she is too Asian (the role went to a German).
Which really reminds me of the recent hoo-ha over Tilda Swinton’s role in Dr Strange – which I need to watch because it seems like a good case study of white supremism in Hollywood.
The last one I would share would be Moana – which is AMAZING. Realistic, healthy body. Respectable, relatable values. I basically didn’t watch the trailer and just watched it because 1) Dawn said it’s good and 2) The poster looked cool since Moana is a girl. And it turned out to be a story about balancing one’s responsibilities and ideals. Which means I cried because I’m a idealistic millennial who doesn’t know what I want but knows what I don’t want, which is to be trapped by my circumstances.
I would also suggest reading this article which will summarise and piece together Moana’s qualities which make her so incredible. The gist is that girls can be girls – they don’t have to be like guys – and be great leaders in their own right.
Although Moana isn’t exactly “girly,” her greatest assets are traits we generally associate with women: Empathy, humility, and a keen sense of observation.
This article links to another incredible piece on why creating ‘strong’ female characters as a knee jerk reaction in the name of equality undermines the fight itself, and why MORE female characters rather than a few, stereotypical ones should be the way to go.
…has the spotlight. However weak or distressed or passive he may be, he’s the main goddamn character.
Okay I’m just going to recommend a few more below, which I read wayyyy back.
I first heard about Josephine Baker from the History Chicks. She actually hails from the same era as Anna May Wong. She was also the first celebrity stepparent who Angelina Jolie and Michael Jackson probably modelled after.She adopted one kid from each major race/ ethnicity and put them on display to prove that living together peacefully is possible, even as each kid retained their own ‘culture’ (some of it was quite farcical though). They were called the Rainbow Tribe.
李香蘭 is this other super duper kickass woman, one of my favourite characters from those Chinese TV shows about female characters. Her story is one about national identity – she was raised in China but born in Japanese. To save her life she had to admit to the world she was Japanese, but you know.. And of course, she was part of war time propaganda, at an age she was too gullible to even know, which makes her story really bittersweet.
So yay, that’s my first round up of female stories. I wish I started earlier because I’ve read so many!!