So far, one of the best things about the parade of powerful men being outed and brought down for sexual harassment is that the controversy has transformed feminist from a dirty word to a hot topic. Women have been dealing with sexual harassment forever, of course, and it’s too soon to know how or if recent revelations will will change things systemically; but at least we can finally talk about it without being shunned, condemned, fired or disbelieved. Now that we get to let our feminist flags fly in all their brightest colors, I’ve got a few things to add to this topic: First, I’m a woman and a writer but I’m not a woman writer. In a genre where a good half of published authors are women and more readers are female, it mystifies me that we need to be labeled at all. I really don’t get it. To me, it’s just one more example of how women get sidelined and, well, I don’t like it. So stop. Okay?
While I’m at it, I’ll tell you why my protagonists, who are often women, get to be the ones to pull the trigger in the key scenes. It isn’t a coincidence nor is it in any way a mistake. Because women have been allotted so little power in the real world, from the beginning of my writing life I’ve been keenly aware that, as I get to control what happens in my stories, I can empower my female characters while also trying to reflect the conflicts women face in reality. Her choices are never easy. It often costs more than it might be worth. But she always has the weapon in her hand at the pivotal moment because she deserves it, it’s her turn and, well, I want her to have it.
And she uses it, too.
A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis is published by Mulholland Books