Putting women in powerful positions is still, sadly, something of a balancing act. Female characters seem to take guff from all directions -- being "too" feminine or "too" masculine. It's the same pressure to be Perfect that any working woman gets, I suppose. Perfect Worker, Perfect Leader, Perfect Mom, Perfect Housekeeper, all at once.
|Not a reference photo for Dame Aleks. Wrong |
hair color, wrong armor, there's no way this is her.
But an awesome photo! Her name's Virginia Hankins.
(If you're new here, there are more character interviews grouped under the "character development" tag. My side of the conversation is in italics.)
To have reached Captain of the Guard, you must be a capable fighter and leader. I don't think I need to prove your toughness to the readers the way I would have had to a few decades ago. Rather, I feel a certain pressure to prove you're female. The usual accusation is that you're just a guy with tits if you aren't "feminine enough."
If I've borne children, does that prove me a woman? If I'm Captain of the Guard, how good a mother can I be?
Not a feminine one, certainly.
Mother forbid I fail to teach my girls to be girls.
So how are you not a guy with tits? Do you ever wear a dress?
Each time I'm off duty, surely.
...and Captain of the Guard is 24/7 (lol)...
Prince Kiefan, perhaps, is how I prove my gentler side. I was on the King's Guard already, and a mother as well, when he was born. As beautiful a son as one could wish for, full of smiles and sunlight. I could resist him no more than any woman on the castle staff.
But you also squired him when he was old enough.
And it was an honor to train the crown prince. He'd never thought of me as a knight, though. His father had put the first sword in his hand, and women were only those he could charm for treats.
How many ass-beatings did it take to change that?
I would not have kept him on, had it taken more than one. He's never been a fool, and he takes discipline well.
How complicated is it to mother a boy you're sworn to serve and protect?
The housemistress was more a mother, perhaps -- she held him when he cried, told him stories at bed-time. I hope I showed him how to use one's gentleness in leading, rather than forget it in being a warrior. That will both serve and protect him as a king.
If you're a writer, how do you balance "masculine" and "feminine" traits in your female leaders? How do you define those traits?