Janine Ashbless, in her piece “We Need to be Wicked,” talks about the tendency we have to idealize and almost idolize women in romance and erotica genres. And how that’s not as good of a thing we might think.
Because, as I said yesterday, if we want real and honest and true stories, we need to recognize and deal with our flaws as well as our virtues.
And, beyond that, Ashbless is right; giving our characters—particularly our female characters—the agency and choice they deserve inevitably means that they will make mistakes. They will sometimes do the wrong thing. They will be selfish. They will go against social goods. They will even hurt people.
Because we all do.
And, so often, that is where our most interesting stories are. The moments that we would rather hide are so often the stories that need to be told most. There are reasons why we so often gravitate to characters like Catwoman and Harley Quinn, who so often stand as “an example of humanity’s innate desire to revel in that which we know we shouldn’t. To make bad decisions and feel good about it.”
And, to be fair, while I think that wickedness is part of their fun and what makes them so likable, I think the main reason we love them so much is that, when done well, they have the thing we all want: the ability and fuck-all bravery to do what they want. Damn the consequences. When done right, things don’t just happen to them; they happen to the world. Their choices, their actions, make a difference. For better or worse, they change their world.
And that, instead of as Ashbless puts it “stories of passive, conformist, characterless doormats pushed into a corner,” is what I would like to see more of.
I want to see us make choices. I want to see us triumph. I want to see us mess-up. I want to see us have to clean up our messes and not just wait to be rescued or taken care of. I want to see how our world changes, for better and for worse, because of the choices we make.
I want to see us matter.
Read Janine Ashbless’s piece “We Need to be Wicked,” here.