Sunday, April 7, 2013

Are Your Heroines Wimpy?

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This post appears in the Christian Home Magazine. Check it out!

     I was introduced to Christian fiction when I read the Zion Chronicles series by Bodie Theone in high school. I went on to read Francine Rivers, Randy Alcorn, and others.

     I guess I was a little bit spoiled because the first several Christian books I read boasted strong characters, plenty of drama, and beautifully redemptive plots. Since my glory-days of high school Christian reading, however, I've picked up several books that have left me feeling, well, a little bit like I felt in my first trimester when my husband was cooking steaks in the kitchen.

     Seriously, I can't tell you how many times I've read books about contemporary Christian heroines who are wiping tears off their cheeks on every other page of their stories. Now, I'm all about tear-jerkers. (In fact, the lady who proof-read my recent Christian novel had to take several extra days because the story had her crying too much to check for typos during her first read-through.) But don't you think that your heroine could find something else to do besides cry? I've been known to choke up a little bit during particularly touching Adventures in Odyssey episodes, but I don't go around sobbing whenever I experience any strong emotion, be that joy, sorrow, embarrassment, etc.

     I don't faint, either, by the way. I feel dizzy when I stand up after soaking in a scalding-hot tub. That's all. But I've read book after book with weak-kneed Christian heroines who can't even remain vertical when they're faced with harsh realities. I've never fainted from bad news, but I did throw up when the nurses told me my newborn son was without a pulse. I wonder why don't heroines in books ever barf during trauma?* It seems a little more realistic, at least based on my own experiences. (Baby Silas survived, by the way, and is now a happy-go-lucky five year old who gives me at least ten minutes of side-splitting abs workouts a day with all of his jokes and silly antics.)

     When I open up my Bible, I don't read about wimpy heroines who cry and faint whenever things get hard. I read about strong-stomached women like Jael who hammers a tent peg through her enemy's skull. I read about strong-hearted women like Naomi who survives in spite of numerous tragedies, including widowhood, displacement, and famine. I read about strong-headed women like Abigail who circumvents her husband to save her entire family from the wrath of David's mighty men. I read about strong-kneed women like Mary who delivers baby Jesus in a stable almost a hundred miles from home.

     I always chuckle at people who claim the Bible is demeaning to women. Maybe they need to take a closer look at how strong these Biblical heroines really are. I doubt Ruth went around fainting whenever Boaz passed her by in the barley fields. And we have no indication that Esther turned on her water faucets when pleading with King Xerxes for deliverance for the Jews.

     Whether you're a writer, a reader, or just a daughter of the King, I hope you are encouraged when you look at the strong believing women God gives us in the Bible as examples.

     And I hope you pass your day without any fainting spells.

What about you? Have you read any books lately with weak-willed heroines? Or do you have any favorite women in the Bible who exemplify feminine strength and dignity (sans the tears)?

Random Fact #3: I have never had a brain freeze in my life.

[*Bloggers note: I recently picked up "First of Her Kind," a fantasy novel by my friend K. L. Schwengel, and am happy to report that her heroine does in fact throw up after a particularly dangerous and traumatizing scene. 4/17/13]


  1. Sadly, I have fainted. Only, not because of shocking news. I was pregnant. Our theory is I was dehydrated or malnourished or both.

    Maybe it's that pendulum-swing thing again? A lot of the female characters in pop-culture are wonder-women who are sexy, brilliant, and have mean right hooks in spite of their lack of bulging muscles, popping veins, broken noses, or unsightly swelling and bruising. Maybe the authors writing the emotional types are trying to counter that? Women are too manly so let's make our characters more like puddles instead?

  2. Much of the blame for these wimpy characters should fall on the shoulders of the industry's "gatekeepers" -- literary agents and editors whose powers of selection limit the choices for everyone who reads commercially published fiction.

    --Josh Langston

    1. I had never thought of it that way, Josh. Thanks for your insight. It makes a lot of sense.

  3. I've not read a lot of Christian fiction or women's lit so I haven't come across this issue quite as much as it seems you have. However, if I read any book where ANY female protag faints simply because she's overwhelmed I'd just put the book down. The only exception would be that they are returning to the scene of where they were emotionally and physically tortured... and in which case they need to vomit all over their own shoes first.