Story over Decades

And here’s another great principle about girl heroes: stories about women most often take place over a period of decades. Adventures for men take place outside of time, or over a few days and weeks until the problem is solved and time can resume.

My mother talked about a full-length snapshot of Daddy’s mom, a photo that I thought was very ordinary. Mama also made over a photo of me that included my person from head-to-toe. I realized that she responded to a woman as a full entity, while men are adequately presented in photos for head and shoulders only. A woman is about her figure and fashion choices and how she makes an entrance into the room.

Likewise, events in the lives of women are about pregnancy and child-rearing and waiting for the return of the husband.  So a woman in stasis changes slowly and her story is about patience, endurance, marshaling limited resources, and eventual outcomes such as a grown son who becomes a hero.

If fact, there’s a debate among bloggers, especially sci-fi feminists, that stories have forgotten where babies come from and why it matters.  Many well developed other worlds simply ignore the time-consuming activity of bringing along the next generation.

Within the activity of waiting, what do the women get done for problem solving and impacting the world? Penelope weaved a tapestry by day and unraveled it by night to keep suitors at bay for 20 years while waiting for the return of Odysseus. In the meantime her son grew to manhood and discussed a plot for revenge on the suitors who depleted her estate.  She had no plans of her own for changing the sequence of events. Rather, Penelope was kept in stasis, untouched and unsatisfied, until the hero returned.

And last, but not least…

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