On real feminine strength in fiction

I recently watched this You Tube video on Eowyn and feminine strength, and why her big moment against the Witch King of Angmar WORKS so well in Tolkien’s “The Return of the King.” I was hoping it might get me thinking about the craft of good, inspiring, believable fiction, especially seeing the first novel in my trilogy is about a magical civil war, and I have a handful of female characters active in the resistance against sorcerer Zalski Forzythe.

(As of now, I’m shooting for release of second edition May 30, 2023!)

I haven’t been able to get it out of the back of my head. It was so insightful and encouraging. I just LOVE “The Lord of the Rings,” which is utterly unsurprising for a fantasy author of any stripe, I’d imagine. I especially love the kingdom of Rohan and, in particular, Theoden and Eowyn. As far as this You Tube video goes, I was blown away by the references and comparisons to the Virgin Mary– I’m Catholic, and they really resonated with me. I was unfamiliar with that You Tube channel and had no idea before I hit “play” that it would come from a Catholic perspective.

This video helped me consider not only my own strengths, weaknesses, and field of influence in a more positive light, but it also helped reinforce that I’d taken my female characters in a positive, realisitic direction.

I really, really love that my female characters don’t pretend to be men. They don’t feel like they have to do what men do or beat men at a man’s game, such as swordplay. They don’t physically beat up the bad guys. Even Malzin Forzythe, Zalski’s wife, has an influence and role in his regime that largely plays upon a woman’s ability to nurture, encourage, and strengthen others, and I say that despite her role as the head of Zalski’s elite guard.

You see, Zalski and Malzin understand their unique strengths, and it gives them a functional relationship and makes then truly formidable. As for the women in the Crimson League, the resistance movement, they act from the gift and the beauty of their femininity, I think, and it’s largely why their movement has any chance of success. They don’t try to be the doubles or duplicates of the men around them, friend or foe, and that’s truly critical. They never could be that. They don’t need to be that. They understand they’re not MEANT to be that.

WISDOM/ INTUITION/ COUNSEL: Laskenay really embodies this gift of the feminine genius, especially in her relationship with Menikas, the real head of the League. She keeps him grounded, and she considers the human cost and toll of things in a way he simply isn’t capable of. His gifts lie elsewhere. Their relationship isn’t romantic like Zalski and Malzin’s, but I think it exemplifies just as well that man and woman need each other. Not that everyone must get married or some such thing; that’s simply not true. What IS true is that men and women have different abilities and gifts that complement each other and help minimize the threat of the blind spots each one has on their own. The Eowyn video definitely brings this out.

NURTURE: You see this in Laskenay’s relationship with protagonist Kora, but especially in Kora’s relationship with her brother Zac. Her main concern is to guide, protect, and secure a space for him to grow and thrive. In my opinion, I’ve always considered this, objectively, the best aspect of her character. It’s the most selfless part of her and her deep motivation. It’s the form her love takes–the love that keeps her going.

EMBRACING VULNERABILITY: As mortal beings, we all share a DEEP and inescapable vulnerability. One beautiful gift of the feminine is that, considering feminine weakness compared to men, it’s harder for women to deny or forget that vulnerability–especially in circumstances like a civil war. Their presence reminds men of that and is meant, I believe, as the video on Eowyn suggests, to bring out man’s protective, guardian instincts, one of masculinity’s great powers and driving forces. The more I think about my characters, I realize this is where Bennie comes in and truly shines. This is the superpower that gives her strength, ironically–knowing and accepting her weakness.

In a world that I feel is striving in so many ways and for so many awful reasons to suppress, destroy, and disparage real femininity and all that it uniquely brings to the world, this beautiful video about Eowyn made explicit one of the reasons I love “Lord of the Rings” so much. You can see that Tolkien understand the gift of femininity, probably due to a health relationship with his wife and to his Catholic faith, which understand the gift that woman is. I definitely hope, in its own way, certainly on a lesser scale, that my fiction might show what the feminine and masculine are in their complementary beauty.


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