Looking Back at the Women who Influenced me

For International Woman’s Day I’m hard-pressed to find anyone specific to talk about. But I think I have a “first” that set the stage for all that were to come. But before we get to her, I think I should look at the women I admire now, and work my way back.

RIght now I’m blessed that the women I admire most are already in my life. My wife, Gillian, is naturally among them. She has an unbound level of compassion and when she gets angry it’s rarely for herself, but the injustice that’s levelled on others.

My friend Nita is perhaps the strongest most determined woman I know, and a force to be reckoned with in whatever she sets her mind to. She also carries herself with a grace that reminds me of Galadriel… if she got hold of the One Ring.

(Don’t worry, she’ll take that as a compliment.)

I also work with a number of women who write in a number of genres, and often have discussions with them about the changing roles taking place and how it affects their stories. Not just in romance, but mystery, science fiction, and young adult as well. These are people with one eye on the future, writing for where women are going, not just what they’ve wanted in the past.

Going further back, my oldest female “buddy” would be Mellisa, now married to my friend Jason. But we’d known each other since they were just dating and never had any problems just being ourselves around one another, even in silly or awkward ways. That’s an important thing to have in life, friends who happen to be girls. Same can be said for diversity in general–gender, gender preference, race, all of it.

But then, before that, I didn’t really have any female friends.  So my perceptions were largely media-based as to what traits I liked to see.  I’ve mentioned some of these icons before, from the most kick-ass mother of them all, Ellen Ripley in Aliens to the karate-chop-first and look fabulous doing it diva of Miss Piggy.

But every trend has a start, and if I had to point out my first female icon it wouldn’t take me long to find.

Amelia Earheart.

Not the most original choice, I know, but it’s rather specific to my upbringing. My dad was a helicopter pilot, and I lost my mom at an early age. At that time the mystery of Amelia endured and part of me wondered if she was still alive (Spoiler Alert). I guess a shrink might make a connection there. Fair enough.

But what she embodied to me was the spirit of adventure and defiance, and that meant a lot to me. It not only reinforced the idea that I could do whatever I wanted, but tore down a brick or two in that wall we erected between boys and girls back then. From that point on I thought “tomboys” were cool. Still do.

I guess the moral of the story is, you need to break those barriers down early, or better yet, prevent them from going up in the first place.

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