Today I thought I would talk about courage and what that entails. When I was younger I always saw courage in the heroic deeds of Homeric heroes, Greek myth, Viking sagas or Arthurian legend. Good vanquishing evil - usually with broadswords. I still love it but now I realize that courage encompasses so much more.
When I was a bright young thing and started reading romances I found that many of the heroines lacked gumption. Yes,we all grew up with fairytales wherein the prince always rescues the damsel in distress. Many of the novels of that time continued this message. In other words you needed a hero not just to rescue you but to complete you. Our girls would stand by looking frail and scared whilst the heroes would battle the evil bad guy. Never thinking to pick up the sword, dagger or gun which lay mere inches from them. Thank goodness thing have changed. Now we have heroines that kick butt, both physically and emotionally.
However I have come to appreciate that courage can mean a great number of things - from the standing up and fighting for what is good even when those around you are firmly glued to their seats, to finding an inner strength to face a disease or situation that threatens your life, protect those you love, whatever the cost or metaphorically picking up the broadsword and swinging into the fray. As readers and writers, we do not want to return to the bad old days when women were portrayed as being passive in both action and thought. (Reminiscent of Boccaccio, Petrarch and Chaucer's 'The Tale of Patient Griselda'). We want our heroines to stand on their own two feet, have a backbone and face adversary head on and not be whiney inactive shades whilst the story swirls about them. These are the qualities we wish to pass onto the next generation of readers. Not the awful message that a heroine should be inactive, passive and wait for the hero to act. I have read a couple of books within a series that will remain nameless where the heroine is once again seen as the helpless princess who is unable to save herself. She has become the silent and trapped medieval Griselda who is at the mercy of a damaged man. Is this truly the message we want to send the next generation?