Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Is A Heroine?

I had the most interesting conversation with a woman yesterday about her life. She's near to the same age as me and we were discussing racism (she's a Southern black woman who grew up in the 50s and 60s) and then raising children and doing it on your own.

This woman had 2 children by age 19. She moved to Washington state and knew nobody, had no family here. She got a job and supported her children, slowly making a life for them. She remarried and had another child. Divorced and had three kids to raise alone.

Someone dropped two children off on her doorstep one day because she was dating their daddy. She raised them. So now up to five kids. She got a college degree and graduated from waitress to office job. Then a second job.

She's in her mid-50s now and she's raising her 9 year old grandson. She was in an accident and uses a walker. She still works and works as Mom.

She'd make a terrible romance novel heroine and yet in my eyes she's Superwoman.

The real life heroine has to rescue herself constantly. She's the single Mom or the woman trying to make ends meet in a dwindling economy. She makes less money than men and gets a hell of a lot of less respect than a man does. If she's overweight or unattractive then she faces societal prejudices (as well as job prejudices) that she can't fight but decrease her wage while increasing her vulnerability in society.

My world is full of heroines. Solomon's Mom who has to get up at 3am to make it to her job because the business moved to Redmond and she has to take multiple busses. Erica's Mom who is reinventing herself after losing her job (and she's in her 50s!). All the ladies we've met and gotten to know Underground with ill parents and partners, with work stress and body stress.

These are my heroines. I salute them all.

1 comment:

  1. I think one of the "escapes" in romance literature is that a woman can put herself in the heroine's place. Hunkered down in her favorite chair, she becomes beautiful, wealthy. intelligent. witty and so sexually desirable that she's not safe on a street by herself!! We all need an escape from real life once in a while.... and some of us do it with a good book. MJ