iamtheinvisiblehand

Posts Tagged ‘women

One year after she was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, and after months of unimaginable pain, my mother finally let go.

Upon her diagnosis, I would cry a lot, mostly because I was scared. After a few months, when the doctor finally told her there was nothing left to do, I would cry less frequently, but on the few occasions I did, the waterworks would last forever. I guess I believed that crying would make the whole thing more real. It meant accepting that there was no hope left. And now that all has been said and done, I find myself crying while I write these words.

I saw the cancer eat my mother – the strongest woman I’ve ever known – alive, and although it took a whole year to do so, when it was done there was nothing left but skin-wrapped bones and a severely swollen abdomen. Her mind, however, was untouched, which I think was even worse, because I can’t even begin to imagine what my mother must have felt when she saw herself in the mirror this last year.

And I still can’t believe that this happened to her. Or to me. This is the kind of story you hear about other people’s lives and sufferings, not your own. This is the kind of tragedy that happens to others. And yet it happened to me.

I know whoever is reading this must be thinking that I should be grateful that at least my mother stopped suffering and that in itself is a blessing. I know this is true. I saw her in pain almost every single day of this year and I am glad that this is all over. But still, I am selfish: I wish she was still here with me, nagging my ears off or constantly calling me about one thing or another, like she did while she still had the strength. I miss her more than I ever could have imagined. It’s so bad it hurts.

I find myself in her apartment expecting to hear her voice. Smell the lingering scent of her perfume. And yet I know that I’ll never get to hear her voice or smell her perfume ever again. I’ll just have to make do with whatever my memories can conjure up for me.

Why she held on for so long is a mystery to me. My sisters and I said our goodbyes many months ago and felt that she was in peace with all of us. And yet she hung on.

I guess that when you know you’re about to leave, you want to make sure that your life was worth something; that it made a difference, that you have left behind something worth remembering. Well, I am certain that my mother left an indelible impression on everyone she knew: I never knew or heard of anyone who disliked her.

Anyone who has suffered the loss of someone close knows that sometimes all you need is to say these things, get them out and sort of purge yourself of these thoughts and feelings, because they have a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. I know this too. About 10 years ago, my dear uncle was killed in a bombing. A few months later, I was at the supermarket and came face to face with a wide variety of blue cheese, my uncle’s favorite.   All of a sudden, I found myself crying and couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Gushing, actually. Other shoppers passing by me would suddenly swerve their carts away from me. I must have terrified them, poor people. My husband had been choosing some vegetables and was quite alarmed when he saw me. I was crying so hard I couldn’t tell him what happened. My dear husband is a good man and knows me well, so he just hugged me and waited until I was done. No questions asked. I did tell him later and he didn’t get it. Go figure.

I’ve come to realize that even when you know what’s coming, you’re never fully prepared for the blow. I knew how this story was going to end, and yet when it did, I felt like a helpless, abandoned child. Now that I think about it, I realize that at the young age of 38 I have become an orphan. Sigh. I know people will say that I should be grateful that I had her for such a long time, when there are so many who’ve lost their parents before they even got to know them. I know this is true. But again, I am selfish. This was not supposed to happen to me. At least not like this.

I am grateful that she was an important part of my 38 years of existence. I am grateful that she was my mother – I could’ve done so much worse. I am grateful that my 7 year old daughter had the chance to meet her and make the most of their time together. I am grateful that my mother was such a loving and caring grandmother to my daughter. But most of all, I am grateful that I had the chance to say goodbye. To tell her how much I loved her. To thank her for all the sacrifices she made to give all of us a good life.

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I just read an article called “Marry Young” written by Julia Shaw and published on slate dot com. In it, the author talks of how she married young and makes a series of observations on her life as a married woman,  and concludes that she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She makes interesting points here and there, although there is a strong religious undercurrent flowing throughout the article as well.

She also wrote: ” Sometimes people delay marriage because they are searching for the perfect soul mate. But that view has it backward. Your spouse becomes your soul mate after you’ve made those vows to each other in front of God and the people who matter to you. You don’t marry someone because he’s your soul mate; he becomes your soul mate because you married him.”

I married young as well (I was 26 and my husband, 27) and although marrying that young is not that common, most of my friends also got married more or less at my same age.

I knew that I was going to marry my husband the day I met him. I knew there would never be anyone else for me. So I got my undergraduate degree, found myself a stable job and managed to save some money .  My husband already had a job and was doing well, so as soon as we had some firm ground under our feet, we got married about 4 years after we first met, and after enduring a 3 year separation while I finished my studies in another continent. Our hopes and dreams for the future were aligned, we had similar cultural and educational backgrounds (this might not be an issue in other countries, but in third-world countries cultural and educational differences can definitely separate people, sometimes irreconcilably) and even though we are complete opposites, we get along fine. Mostly.

Unlike Ms. Shaw, I got married because I was (and remain) convinced that my husband was (and still is) my partner for the road, not because I was hoping he would become my partner after we got married. I got married because I wanted to, because I deeply loved (and still love) this man and because I couldn’t conceive living my life without him.

There’s a lot in the article about how it’s best to marry young. Someone published an article in response to this article stating the contrary, and how the older people are when they get married the lower the divorce rate.

I have no idea whether one position or the other is true. I do know, however, that nowadays women tend to get married for all the wrong reasons.

As women, we are educated to believe that we are complete once we’ve married and had children, sometimes while juggling a career as well. This is true no matter how liberal your parents or the society you live in are. Women who reach a certain age and have no marital prospects are considered strange animals and are looked down on with pity.  If she’s a successful businesswoman, then she is a workaholic and career-driven and for some reason that is bad. If she maintains a low profile, then there’s probably something wrong with her. If no one has ever met any of her dates, then she’s probably a lesbian. And the list goes on and on.

People like to think that it isn’t like that anymore, but it still is, so it’s no wonder some women will just jump into marriage even though they know it’s not the best decision for them.

I’ve seen it happen so many times I’ve lost count, but I’ve got two examples to illustrate what I’m saying.

I got married in August 2001. A friend and co-worker got married one month later, just before 9-11. They had been together for a long time, broke up temporarily (and they both dated other people during that time), only to get back together and get married. She was very attached to her family. So much so that she would have lunch with her parents every day and I frequently bumped into her shopping with her mom. Her husband was just as attached to his family: he worked at his dad’s company, so he pretty much did as he pleased and had a lot of time to play X-Box with his friends at home. Sometimes when she came home late from work, he’d already had his dinner and didn’t even bother waiting for her. They led totally separate lives while living under the same roof. They never got to celebrate their 2nd anniversary. I guess they got married because they thought it was the logical thing to do and it was expected of them, but they never stopped to think if it was the right thing to do.

And then there’s my sister. Sigh. She’s always been insecure when it comes to guys. She always had her share of nice boyfriends, but they all eventually ended up dumping her because she was so needy. And men dislike needy women who are always on their case. She finally got involved with this guy who treated her like crap. They moved in together but never got married because he refused, on the grounds that he had already been married once and it had gone all wrong. She did the most unbelievable things to please him. My sister, right until to the moment she got pregnant had always been a firm anti-children advocate. And yet she eventually got pregnant and had a boy because that is what HE wanted. They were always in trouble and fought like cats and dogs, mainly because this guy is an aggressive drunk. I don’t really know if there was physical abuse there, but I’m pretty sure there was verbal abuse. Anyway, even though they were unhappy together, up until the day they had decided to separate they had been trying to conceive another child in the hopes that it would bring them together. Long story short, the divorce and custody became such a nasty process that the judge slapped them with a heavy fine for their behavior and threatened to place the child under protective services  if they ever went back to court. A year later, the guy got married to another woman. The sad part is that although my sister knew what she was getting into because everyone had warned her about the guy, she had been alone for so long that she was gonna make it work this time, come what may.

Living with another person is not easy, no matter how much you love them and are willing to ignore their quirks and odd habits. I mean, I’ve been married for almost 12 years now and although I love my husband dearly, sometimes I have to restrain myself from kicking him in the butt for being such an annoying and demanding macho.  I’m pretty sure he tries to restrain himself too, but let’s face it, men can be clueless as to what affects us, even though we’ve told them time and again…

That being said, I’m convinced that not all of us are made to live a shared life. Some people prefer their freedom and feel complete as they are, which is perfectly fine. One of my closest friends is my age and remains single (and probably will remain single forever). She is extremely good at her work and still lives with her parents, since they all get along very well and she doesn’t feel the need to take out an apartment of her own. Even though we are close, I’ve never heard her talk about her dates or her love life in general and I’ve never asked her either. Many people have asked me if she’s gay and the truth is that although I’m pretty sure that she is, it’s none of my business and if she’d rather not say, then who am I to probe? Whatever her choice is, I do know that she is a happy gal and that’s all that matters. She is also aware that she could never put up with anyone else’s crap, so she knows that it makes no sense to look for a lasting relationship if she’s not going to be able to make it work. If you ask me, that is the sensible way to go…

So you see, more than it being of problem of WHEN you get married, it’s more about WHETHER you should.

 

 

My mother has finally finished her preliminary 4 rounds of chemotherapy. There is now a 3-week wait before a full battery of tests is made to see if and how much the treatment has helped. And then, all the decisions that have to be made will be made.

I hadn’t realized just how scared and stressed out I’ve been over this until this week. I was flipping channels when I found the movie “My Girl”. I’d already seen it when it was originally released and I remembered I cried. That was the time when I’d go to see just any movie. I became more selective when my daughter was born not only because of the obvious time constraints, but also because I decided that life already provided enough drama every now and then, so why pay to see something sad on my already limited outings.

Under normal conditions, I would’ve kept on flipping or just switched off to read a book (it’s currently Ken Follett’s “A Dangerous Fortune”), and yet I just stopped and forced myself to watch the whole thing. Obviously, when the time came I cried, only this time it wasn’t just a few scattered tears, no. This time it was bawling until I had no more tears left. I felt a little like Emma Thompson’s Elinor Dashwood when she learns that Edward is not married – everything she had kept inside for so long just came gushing out, uncontrolled, something like a dam suddenly bursting and flooding everything around it.  Me being so pale, the just-cried puffy eyes and reddened nose finally cleared after a couple of hours, leaving me to wake up this morning with swollen eyelids as a souvenir of the previous day. But also, I felt incredibly relieved.

The thing is, it helped me realized that ever since my mother’s diagnosis I hadn’t found the time or the strength to admit my fear and anxiety, nor was I willing to do so either. I buried myself in my work so I would never have time to think about it, and just avoided anything that would make me feel upset. And while crying is supposed to be a healthy manifestation of our feelings, when other people need your support or you need to convince yourself that things are going to be alright, crying becomes the affirmation to the contrary: it means that things probably aren’t going the way they should and in all likelihood it’s not going to be ok. And now that I know that I had all this buried deep down inside, I’ve come to terms with the fact that regardless of the tests results, life will never be the same.

I mean, if all goes well, then I’ll probably adopt a new take on life and be more optimistic, which is fine, although in my case it’ll probably be temporary; if it doesn’t, well, no matter what my relationship my mother is like, seeing your own mother deteriorate and eventually let go of this world has to be one of life’s hardest trials.  

Seeing her, a rather tall and large woman shrivel into a helpless old lady has already been tough enough. She’s lost over 30 lbs. since October when the chemo started and rarely eats, goes out or does anything anymore. I know there’s a depression component there that worsens it all but still, there’s only so much the rest of us can do to improve her situation. My mother will have to fight this battle alone and if she doesn’t find the strength to kick the cancer, no one else can do it for her.

Having said all this, I’m glad I had the chance to cry it out and acknowledge everything that’s happening. I know that difficult times are just around the corner and that I’ll probably have to allow myself to cry every once in a while if I don’t want to have another breakdown.

I wrote a few months ago that I wouldn’t be reading Fifty Shades of Grey because of the bad reviews and the weak heroine. It turns out I caved and read it, although no money was spent – thank God. I found this book in a suitcase my mother had filled up with books she wanted to donate, so I figured, WTH, let’s see what the hype is all about.

Let me just start by saying that although I didn’t spend any money on it, the hours I wasted reading it are gone forever and should’ve been spent doing something else. ANYTHING else. THAT, I regret deeply.

I had no idea that this piece of c#$% was Twilight fan fiction, but then it makes sense because the whole thing, the characters, the plot, even the location, are all Twilight-based: Anastasia is basically Bella, only this time around she gets laid every 20 pages or so. Christian has Edward’s copper tousled hair. They all live in Washington state.

I don’t even know where to start so I guess I’ll just make a bullet list:

-The bad writing. I mean , the worst writing I’ve ever had to endure. I keep wondering how Ms. James managed to pull this off. Are there no editors at her publishing house? Holy c$%&. holy s*¨#$, holy f$%&, later’s babe and all sorts of similar expressions are on every single page. “Later’s, babe”?. Who talks like that?

-I never thought I’d say this, but Anastasia is worse than Bella. She keeps asking herself why this guy wants her when she is nothing. Well, if you have to ask yourself that, then you probably aren’t worth it. Did I mention she’s a 21-year old virgin who has never masturbated, calls her vagina “down there”, has an annoying “inner goddess” and although Christian has told her that he’s into inflicting pain, she manages to act surprised at the end because she felt pain. Ugh. Oh, and she supposedly never owned an email account or a computer before Christian came around. In what century has this girl been living? AND, she is willing to put up with anything this psycho does because he is just so gorgeous, something that is said over and over ad nauseam.

-Christian has a little more depth, although psychologically he makes no sense. He’s supposed to be a 27-year old billionaire, which means that he is probably a tough guy, and yet he is whiny, insecure, jealous and a stalker. Someone that insecure could never make it big in business. I mean, the whole buying out the plane seat next to her, following her to Georgia, giving her a Blackberry and a computer so he can monitor her every move, that’s just sick and I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with him being a dom and her a sub.  

-The constant and ridiculous emails they sent to each other. Anastasia’s writing and speaking skills range from Snooki to Elizabeth Bennet in the same sentence. Who uses “avuncular” in the middle of a conversation?

-The BDSM. I’m not that knowledgeable on this subject but I’ve been told (more than once, actually) that this is a sexual preference and as such rarely reflects on people’s real lives, meaning that a sub in the bedroom is rarely a doormat in real life, and a dom is not necessarily a control freak either. So there goes the author’s research.

-These people have sex all around the place and every few pages. THIS is supposed to be the good part of the book and what has been turning women on all around the world. Let me just say that by the middle of the book I’d had enough already it was so repetitive and monotonous that I started skipping to the “substance” to see if the plot got any better. It didn’t. I can’t believe Kathy Lee and whatshername and the anchors of the Today Show actually raved about this book, saying it was a great Mother’s day gift.  Heck, even Dr. Oz had a show about how this book improved couples’ sex lives. Puh-leez.

-This stupid girl tries throughout the entire book to get to the core of his issues so she can fix him. In the process, we learn that he was abused into BDSM by an older woman when he was 15. And somehow, you never read or hear anyone criticizing this way-too-casual reference to pedophilia. Disgusting.

-Anastasia and Cristian are in an extremely abusive relationship. Stalking and wanting full control over someone is not love. Just because people prefer calling it something else or fool themselves into thinking it’s romantic doesn’t mean it isn’t abuse.

The fact that such rubbish made it to the NYT top 10 says a lot about us as a society. I mean, people can write whatever they want and hope it’ll go viral. The problem is, there must be way too many lonely, hopelessly romantic women out there to let this disaster become some sort of reading reference. Every single woman I know has read this book and loved it, and every time I’ve had something to say against it they consistently refute it, as if I hadn’t understood the darn thing, when I think I got it a lot better than all of them did. For someone who reads as much as I do, I’m pretty certain my reading comprehension level exceeds that of all of them, who have probably only read this one book this year because this sorry excuse for writing was published. 

It’s a sad day when you realize that issues such as abuse and pedophilia are being ignored for the sake of romance. I truly never thought that one stupid book could do such damage. And I don’t think I’m being dramatic here. When people start ignoring important things because they’d rather look the other way, they are accepting them by default. And shame on Ms. James. Instead of writing about a strong, independent heroine other women could look up to, she’s debased us all by serving up a spineless, immature weakling that can’t stand up for herself and puts up with unimaginable situations for the sake of a guy, who in turn, doesn’t even love her.

Writers who get lucky enough to be published have the incredible power of reaching other people’s minds and speaking to them through their characters. I believe they should take that responsibility and privilege more seriously and try to contribute instead of punching us in the face with their own sexual fantasies.

I wonder if Ms. James has daughters, and if she does, I seriously hope they are as disgusted with her as I am.

My mother was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma last week, after an endless month of tests, scans and appointments with the entire gamut of specialists.

For those who don’t know, cholangiocarcinoma is one of the most aggressive types of cancer. My mother’s is in the liver and metastasis was found in the peritoneum. It appears that the tumor that is in the liver is in the one place that makes it impossible to operate. Those in the peritoneum are rarely operated. So, chemotherapy it is. Starting today. The oncologist ordered 3 rounds of chemo and after that she’ll be tested again to check for improvement. If there is any, chemo will continue. If not, we’ll just have to let the cancer take over.

I know chemotherapy has come a long way and that nowadays, the treatment is a lot “milder” than it was a few years ago, but still, I can only imagine how she’s going to feel, being the person she is.

I’m not particularly attached to her, or my sisters for that matter, and I don’t feel that this has brought us closer, as many people in this same situation like to say.

My mother is as close as you can get to being Marie Barone (from Everybody Loves Raymond), so she enjoys feeling in control, having us all together at her disposal and being the center of attention. I don’t mean to sound nasty but it’s true. She has told every single relative, friend and acquaintance about her condition and although I can understand why she’s done it (besides being entitled to deal with this as she pleases), I truly wish she hadn’t, because now it means that she has made the cancer the main event of her life and has to rehash it every single time she’s with someone.

I’m not sure if she has come to terms with the fact that although this is a huge beast, half the task is becoming aware that she has the power to get rid of it by staying positive. Cancer survivors always say that a positive attitude can go a long way towards recovery. Of course, easier said than done, especially considering that my mother might be the most pessimistic person on the planet. It’s so bad that we’re always telling her to move her dark clouds away from us whenever she makes one of her ominous comments.

Our sisters and I have approached this from our unique perspectives and considering our own individual relation with our mother. My eldest sister feels quite dependent on her, so everything that has happened has affected her deeply. I can tell she’s truly scared. My other sister, the doctor, is approaching this like the doctor she is, meaning that she knows the facts better than we do, and she knows the outlook is grim, but she’s doing her part all the same. My youngest sister is probably the most affected, because she lives with my mother and is doing everything in her power to change my mother’s lifestyle into a healthier one, so if it doesn’t work I know she’ll be crushed. That, added to the fact that she is probably the closest to her.

Me? Hmmm. I haven’t really changed anything in my behavior or attitude. I’ve become weary of the manipulation, the phone calls every single day and the pleads for closeness, so although I hate that this is happening, I haven’t felt the need to come closer or reconcile or even mend our relationship.  I’ve come to terms with this.

I’ve been told repeatedly that I’ll regret this. But as I said, I came to terms with my relationship with my mother a long time ago. It’s far from perfect, but I’ve overcome the resentment, the anger and the disappointment I felt when I was younger and have settled for a cordial relationship. And I’m ok with it. She’s my mother and I love her and now that I’m a mother myself I know how hard it can be and I’m sure she did her best. But that is it.

Funny though, I never thought of myself as a selfish person, and yet all I can think about is how I’ll be affected if my mother dies. It kills me that my daughter won’t be able to enjoy her grandma for as long as she should have. It saddens me that my mother sacrificed so much for her own mother and that when she finally had the chance to do what she wanted she got diagnosed with cancer. That she had to put up with so much in her life already and not feel as appreciated as she thinks she should be.

I’m not a religious person, but I do have faith that my mother’s condition will improve. I refuse to believe that a person who has been deprived of living her own life for so long on account of others will now be deprived of it on account of cancer. Life’s not fair, I’m well aware of that, but that would be just plain horrific and would change our take on life radically. For the worse. Living with the knowledge that hope is useless would just make everyday a little more difficult.

All wake-up calls are harsh and abrupt, especially when they are received close to home. I’m taking this as a reminder not to let life get in the way of living it. To realize that it’s ok to strive for improvement while still appreciating the life I have. To leave my stuff in order so that no one will have to make any decision for me and my daughter will have everything she’ll ever need in my absence. To definitely take better care of myself and my family.

Men!  The only animal in the world to fear.  ~D.H. Lawrence

Last week, a terrible crime was committed against a very poor woman in the city where I live.

Not only was she assaulted and raped, but impaled as well. She agonized – while remaining conscious –  for a few hours at the place where she was dumped by her assailant. When the police finally found her, she was showing signs of hypothermia.

As if this weren’t enough, when they found her they asked her if she had medical insurance. She said no. She was then taken to a hospital about 20 minutes away from where she was, instead of taking her to another – private – hospital that was just a couple of blocks away.

The poor woman never stood a chance. She died later on due to cardiac arrest, after enduring several operations and all kinds of procedures to save her.

The worst part was the way the media treated the whole thing. It was pitiful and uninformative, to say the least.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to write this post and how to approach the broad array of issues that arise from such a hair-raising event, but in the end all I can say is that I’m sad. Sad and enraged.

Truly and deeply sad.

I’m sad because I feel like something inside of me died a little. Maybe it was hope. Because I always thought human beings were essentially good, but it seems to me that this theory has been proven wrong way too many times already for it to be true.

I’m sad because this was a monstrous crime committed against a helpless woman.

I’m sad because of the way she was treated for being poor and because no one should have to suffer what she suffered only to die part of a health-care system that wasn’t willing to help her.

I’m sad because this is not how things are supposed to be.

I’m sad because the justice system of the country I live in had already tried her attacker before for sexual assault and murder and had released him only 15 months after his conviction. Several arrest warrants are still outstanding for his involvement in other crimes of a similar nature, and yet he has just been released, again, after being apprehended this weekend due to “lack of evidence” or some sort of BS story concocted especially to let the perp walk.

I’m enraged because impunity is, in my opinion, the mother of all other crimes. I mean, why even bother making laws if they are only going to be stomped on by animals such as these and their lawyers, who are just as bad?

But what really infuriates me is that this sort of thing happens all around the world and no one seems to know. Or care.

And I’m not only referring to random violent crimes like this one. I’m talking about systemic, reiterative violence. Against women. Against children. Against other human beings.

People will only become aware of these things if the media informs them about it. But if the media hasn’t heard of it or decides it’s not newsworthy, then it’ll just be ignored and that is so unfair. And since this case had to do with a poor woman in some God-forsaken third-world country, no one will ever know.

Because I’m pretty sure the global media has ignored this: I googled the news in English and only found one reliable source that has not even been updated: http://www.ntn24.com/news/news/outrage-colombia-rape-and-impa-13948

So, I’ve decided to inform the few people who read my blog about it. As long as just one person reads it, I’ll feel like I’ve done my part by making that one person aware of what has happened to that woman nobody seemed to care about.

She is just one of the many who are killed, assaulted, raped or abused every single day across the planet. We can’t feel regret or remorse for things we aren’t aware of, but we should, every now and then, think of those who are not sufficiently important to be on the news, but who nonetheless suffer the unthinkable – some of them, every day -.

Browsing for a new book to download on my Kindle, I came across Fifty Shades of Grey, a trilogy that has been on the best-seller list for some time now.

Naturally, I was curious, so I read most of the reviews to try and get a true picture and decide whether I should buy it or not.

The story revolves around wide-eyed virgin Anastasia, who falls for Christian Grey, a rich hottie who’s into BDSM. Hmmm. Eyebrows arching, but still visible. 

Now, even though I haven’t read the book and therefore cannot give an informed opinion on it, I have read almost all the reviews and I was able to infer one thing: it appears that the guy is the possessive type and a control freak and the submissive girl can’t do anything without his permission. You know, the “you’re mine” type. He’s absolutely charming and Anastasia just can’t let go. Brows keep rising, forming deep creases on my forehead, but still there.

After reading the reviews I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth people would feel compelled to read a story about a girl that appears to be in a borderline abusive relationship? I mean, all the symptoms are there: the naive girl asking permission to do the most mundane stuff, unable or unwilling to shake the guy off for one reason or another, and a guy that is completely irresistible, thus making it easier to dominate the girl. Yikes! I guess it may be part of the whole BDSM thing but still, sounds insane.

Again, I haven’t read the book and I may be wrong, but the reviews (even the good ones) state these exact same things.

Now, what I’ve asked myself since then is not only why people would enjoy reading about an abusive relationship (other than for the kinky sex that apparently abounds throughout the book, and at that, eyebrows have completely disappeared and merged with hairline), but mainly, why would an author, and a female author at that, create such a weak, submissive heroine.

Take, for instance, Bella Swan from Twilight. I’m an avid reader, and I’m pretty sure she is the most pathetic female character I have ever encountered in the 30+ years of my entire existence. She is sour, has no self esteem whatsoever and just seems to go through the motions instead of trying to live, turning her into an almost robot-like character. In all 4 books of the saga (yes, I read all 4 of them because I bought them at the same time, stupid me. They do make for super-light reading, the type you can do while on the phone and cooking at the same time. In my defense, I haven’t, and probably will not, see the movies), she never ceases to wonder why this perfect guy – who, thank God, is a vampire because imagine trying to convince your daughter that real, human guys are nothing like him!!!!! – chose her and can’t explain why he loves her despite being clumsy and just, well, ordinary. Imagine that: loving another person despite their flaws and in short, because of who they are!!!!  And still, her romance with vampire Edward Cullen broke all book and box office records.

Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games is fierce, strong, talented and driven, and yet she remains reluctant to show any emotion or feeling throughout the entire trilogy, and when she does, she does so grudgingly. Why take away the part of her that makes her all the more human?

And let’s not forget most of the rest of the female characters of the YA genre. Instead of creating characters that are worth imitating, all these authors come up with are the stupidest, most nondescript people ever invented.  You’d think that having the power to influence, or at least make a difference, in people’s lives by reaching them with your craft, would make them come up with something better…. 

On the other side of the heroine spectrum is Isabel Allende. Most of her leads are women and they are the most wonderful characters imaginable, full of contradictions and ups-and-downs, like a real woman. Her novel La Casa de los Espiritus es about 4 generations of women, and each one is as fascinating as her mother before her.

All of the characters in Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help” are admirable and are so easy to picture you’d think you knew them all. And they are proof that you don’t even have to like some of them in order to appreciate how real they are. Of course, I’m referring to Hilly Holbrook, a major b****,  but absolutely credible nonetheless.

There is also Steig Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander (Millenium trilogy), who is a truly remarkable character. I’m sure anyone that’s read any of the 3 books will agree with me. She is a little awkward, but she remains sensitive and driven at the same time, making it impossible not to like her.

And there’s Hermione Granger, who, IMHO, can never be excluded from a true heroine list.

But of all the heroines I’ve come across, neither Elinor Dashwood, Dolores Claiborne nor Jane Eyre have anything on Bridget Jones. Yes….I’ve read Helen Fielding’s books and even though there are things about Bridget that are exaggerated to exploit the comedic side, she still rings true to me: she’s got self-esteem issues due to a variety of reasons,  and yet she is able to just enjoy it when good things happen to her without wondering why or whether she deserves them, which in my opinion, is the only way to make the most out of any situation. 

Image

From blogdecine.com

So, anyway, I won’t be buying Fifty Shades of Grey, even if the price drops to 0.99.  I like my heroines to be as real as possible, if it’s not much to ask, so I’ll keep looking….



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  • Carrie Rubin: I don't always remember names well, but I remember circumstances. I especially remembered yours because it's such a rare cancer, and you were the firs
  • iamtheinvisiblehand: Thank you for your kind words, but also thank you for remembering it was me....it's amazing that you'd remember this considering the endless stream of
  • Carrie Rubin: I am so sorry to hear about your mother. After you commented on my blog yesterday, I remembered that your mother was the one who had cholangiocarcinom

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