There are three ladies in the story, Pauline Tate (Ted Glory’s Executive Assistant), Mrs Stevens and her daughter, Erica, and each of them is a strong character in their own right, but none of them make a huge impact on the main character, Zach Caan, or the plot. Pauline Tate does serve an important plot point, but thinking on it, she could have been easily replaced with anyone of the other characters in the story with minimal impact. This makes me as guilty of objectification of women as those cheesy television adverts that use women and their sexuality to sell products (the list is too long, but a recent example is Nicole Scherzinger moaning over a yogurt desert).
To be clear, the objectification of person, as defined by philosopher Martha Nussbaum, happens when they are just there as a tool for other characters to achieve something, lack agency or self-determination, are interchangeable, illustrate violability (i.e. okay to violate or damage) and lack subjectivity. This is the kind of objectification you will find in action movies, fiction (and non-fiction), video games, music and marketing. I’m not saying the female characters in the Adventures of Some Kid are treated with such neglect or violence, but they do lack agency and are interchangeable at times.
The Changeling King has four strong ladies in it, Karen Rainbow, a hard-nosed police detective, Salina Phelps, Katrina Standbridge and Lady Merenwen. Out of the four Karen Rainbow is perhaps the best fit for the ‘Strong Female Character’ as defined by the Tasha Robinson, the author of the original article (below). Karen exhibits her own agency throughout the book, isn’t a prop for the male characters, and remains a strong influence right until the last page. Salina and Katrina are kick-ass too and can handle their business in a fight, but it could be argued that their primary role is to be the love-interests for the guys in the story, despite often figuring strongly in the plot and remaining fiercely independent throughout. Lady Merenwen is also a strong female, being the last living member of a Ranushan Alvorn noble family and having survived alone in the Belt, one of the most inhospitable places in Kryllon, for a number of years. She features more heavily in the companion story, The Dvargar of Amundborg, In both stories, she is not a crutch for a male character, nor does she need to lean on anyone else for support.
This brings me back to The Adventures of Some Kid. Clearly there is a flaw in there, especially if you treat it as a standalone book. But Zach Caan’s adventures aren’t over yet, and the first book was always envisioned as a series. When the second book comes out, I will be introducing a new character to the Some Kid series that will not only remedy the situation but also turn the dynamic on its head. I don’t want to ruin the plot surprises for my readers, but I am sure you will enjoy the twist. I apologize in advance if the first book’s lack of female agency offends. Consider me mollified and more informed now.
In the meantime, check out the link below for the original article and don’t forget to pre-order The Adventures of Some Kid, which is releasing on 27th June in ebook and paperback formats.
Original Article: “We are losing all our strong female characters to the Trinity Syndrome” http://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/618-were-losing-all-our-strong-female-characters-to-tr