I’ve spent my fair share of time in romantic situations, just like anybody else. I’ve recently had this epiphany. Romance has changed in my generation. For the better possibly.
I’m a child of the Buffy gen. Love took a little bit of a dark turn for the women of the nineties as they changed the way they viewed themselves. It seemed that women everywhere woke up to Joss Whedon’s vision of them, as slayers of monsters not distressed damsels. And, I honestly believe this metamorphosis can be traced to this iconic show. It was the first of its kind. Extremely influential for me and women like me.
And so began our battle with the bad boys.
After that, you see an emergence not only of women in books and movies as badasses, but you also see them begin to question their relationships. So, we flew from Buffy to Twilight to Jessica Jones for our daughters. I wonder if that isn’t somehow telling. Buffy and her friends fought with champions who sometimes turned evil, making every relationship a risky business. Twilight is one long public service announcement about the dangers of stalking and obsessive love, and Jessica Jones finally seems to paint men as flawed, human creatures who just happen to be able to bench press a Buick.
I submit that the tendency to paint men as caregivers and champions may have been the root of our society’s rather silly view of women. By admitting that men aren’t the hero, and neither are they always the villain, women can finally come to terms with who they are. From slayer to reluctant heroine, we really had to think about who we wanted to be.
Let’s face it. Women have our hopeless moments in life. There are times when you feel like you have to be the Slayer, and other times when you know everything rests on your shoulders and you just wanna sit in the dark and drink, maybe throw a client out a window. I really believe we’re coming to grips with our own darkness, and books, especially, tell that story. I see it even in my own writing. Female identity in our entertainment is morphing into a warrior paradigm that used to be reserved for men. They are just as likely to be the violent anti-heroine like Jessica Jones or the misunderstood scientist who made a mistake like Shannon Donnelly’s Edgewalkers heroine.
Heroines are becoming more empowered even in their weaknesses, as are men. I believe it’s a healthy place to be. None of us are superheroes, yet isn’t that what we all aspire to be, or maybe feel the pressure to be. We’re expecting ourselves to pay the bills, cure cancer and fight our own demons, and it’s hardly a realistic expectation. We’re only human, and, worse, we’ve saddled our husbands and wives and lovers with that expectation. Where the idea of a champion riding in to slay the dragon used to be our romantic ideal, is it not more romantic to be equals, partners in the fight? Healthy human relationships allow for moments of weakness without descending into abuse or obsession.
I’m not saying we’ve reached a pinnacle of feminism or that abuse has been eradicated from society. I’m saying I see hopeful signs that women and men are starting to adopt realistic expectations of each other, and that’s a good thing.