Much needed positive female role models   2 comments

Ms. Tamora Pierce is the author of, well, let’s just say “oodles” of books. I’ve read all but the most recent of her Tortall novels. What I love most

Next on my to-read list: Tamora Pierce's Mastiff

about about Ms. Pierce’s novels are her heroines. Not only are they strong, quirky, and unique, but they are also allowed to be believable sexual beings. Most of her heroines who are physically and emotionally mature have had multiple sexual partners. What is great about this is that her ladies are responsible about it. Birth control is discussed. Romantic notions of “giving” your virginity to the man that you are certain you will marry are not brought in to the discussion. They don’t feel devalued in anyway for not being virginal. Not only that, but her heroines actively enjoy their sex lives. And they are not punished for it like in a stereotypical horror film when the sexually active teens are killed off. Yes, Ms. Pierce’s ladies suffer from heartache when their romantic relationships end, but these ladies recover and move on. With all these strong, relatable, and responsible women running through Ms. Pierce’s novels who could complain?

It would seem that some people disapprove of women taking charge of, and responsibility for, their sexuality. Ms. Pierce’s novels have been challenged repeatedly and at least one, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, has been banned by at least one institution. One of the reasons was “use of an amulet to prevent pregnancy.” Rather than be challenged, Ms. Pierce ought to be applauded for her portrayal of female sexuality. She offers young women good examples to follow. Her heroines are discreet, selective in choosing their partners, and responsible about preventing pregnancy. Additionally, when a relationship turns sour, the woman gets out of the relationship; she doesn’t hang on to an incompatible lover. She respects herself enough and has the good sense to extract

My Tamora Pierce collection

herself from bad relationship, mourns the romantic loss, and moves on. That is what I want my daughter to learn. I want my future daughter to know that sex is for pleasure but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Sex is serious enough to require that precautions be taken but it does not determine your worth as a person.

Ms. Pierece has a good handle on the heroines that a modern young reader needs. Kudos to her.

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Posted February 22, 2012 by Alicia Schofield in intellectual freedom

2 responses to “Much needed positive female role models

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  1. I love Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books, and I agree with you that her female role models are awesome! I am fascinated by the love triangle between Alanna, Jonathan, and George and I agree that Ms Pierce does a good job discussing the conflicting feelings Alanna feels between the two men. It’s especially admirable that Alanna has a healthy relationship with both men, even when “fighting” with one of them.

    This is only sort of related to the sexuality discussion, but I love the part where Alanna gets her first period. It’s a great portrayal of what real girls go through, and it’s wonderful to have it not be so taboo in the book. I love the conversation she has with George’s mother; it’s great to be reminded that we girls all go through this! (I also think George’s mother is a great woman to look up to! Brave, matter-of-fact, and very kind and caring.)

    One relationship in Pierce’s books that disturbed me a little is the one between Daine and Numair… He is much older than her (I think he’s 40 while she is 15?) and, since he is her teacher, the relationship feels really inappropriate to me. It was done about as tastefully as possible, but it still had an “ick” factor for me.

    Another awesome female role model is Onua in Wild Magic. I love that she can be tough, but still nurturing. Strict, but still patient. She is strong, but shows softness when it is warranted. I feel like girls can relate to Daine and should aspire to grow up to be like Onua. They make a great pair!

    I actually read the Lioness and Immortals quartets when I was young, and I think they did have a positive effect on me during a turbulent time in my adolescent life. I turned out pretty good, right? 😉

    • Alanna even had a third lover after Jonathon and before she married George! The only reservation I have about Alanna is that when Jonathon was trying to convince her to marry him she told him he “deserved to marry a virgin.” This is, of course, especially silly because Jonathon was the only man she’d had sex with at that point! I think, however, she meant that he should marry a virgin for political reasons (which is still stupid). Still, that gave me pause. That was the only moment where she seemed to have doubted her choices.

      I don’t think the age difference between Daine and Numair was that great. I’m pretty sure she was at least 18 and he was only in his 30s. Still, I see your reservations. And, they did take their time. Numair did his best to act ethically and he would never had made a move without Daine’s encouragement. In fact, when his feelings first came to light, he tried to talk her out of being together. I agree that it was “done about as tastefully as possible,” but there wasn’t an ick factor for me. I think maybe it was to illustrate how nontraditional they both were.

      I completely agree with you about Onua. I adore how Pierce’s female characters can be tough as nails but still giggle when given flowers or get excited about dressing up. They have depth and show different sides of themselves.

      And, yeah, I guess you turned out okay. 😛

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