Bad Women Make History

I usually don’t do this, but I’d like to weigh in on the subject matter of another blog written by one of my most favorite bloggers, Kristen Lamb. I was going to just comment, but the subject is way too big and I have a lot of opinions on what she wrote about.

Belle depicted as Sexy

Belle depicted as Sexy

Before we get to that, I have to repeat something my brother told me once years ago. He probably read it somewhere, since I’ve seen it repeated a lot but never anyone given credit for it. “Only bad women make history.” That’s not the direct quote, but that’s what it means.

So it comes down to, what exactly do we have to do as women to be considered bad? That would be different from what it was when my brother quoted that to me, probably in the 1970s sometime. Let’s admit it, a woman has to go a long way today before she’s considered bad, but back then if a woman stepped out of the comfort zone created for her by men, she was bad. If she worked and left her children with a sitter (today called a nanny); if she didn’t cook from scratch but bought prepared food; if she spoke out during a discussion in public; if she wore anything that showed she was a well-endowed woman. I could go on, but you get it. Any of these things are perfectly acceptable today.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht

So, what do we have to do to be classed as bad now? By whom? For you see, today this is much more subjective than it once was. How do we perceive our fellow women today? Do we think of them depending on what they achieve or how they achieve it?

The Victorian women were known for being sedate, but that wasn’t always the case.

Example: As I’ve grown older I’ve changed my writing style somewhat and write with much more sexuality. I laughingly told one of my publishers that the less sex I get the more I write about getting sex. She told me that was perfectly all right and had no objection. However, certain friends my own age do object, one even called my writing porn, though the younger ones love that I write explicit sexual scenes in all my books, be they mysteries, paranormal, mainstream, or romance.

Funny story: A man came over to my book table at a conference and picked up one of my books, not a romance, and said he liked the book but was disappointed that there wasn’t enough sex in it. It was written a few years ago, but still being available I always carry a few copies. Hmmm. Since then I have really gotten down to business with the love scenes in my books. Not because of what he said, but more because of what I told my publisher. I warn readers, though, with the brand: sexy, dark, and gritty.image

Please check out Kristen Lamb’s blog post this week and you’ll see what sent me off on this tangent. She is writing mainly for women writers but it applies to others. I’d be happy to know how you feel about this subject.

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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7 Responses to Bad Women Make History

  1. cjfosdick says:

    Velda, I just read Kristen’s blog. She certainly generates a ton of comments from her followers! I think she was challenging women writers to put on their big girl panties and own up to some brassos! I have a slogan on my frige that says: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Kinda same idea! I do agree that male writers get more attention. Just like in politics, brave, pushy women are branded with the “B” word, while men with same behavior are “bold, brash, bright and ambitious! Just look at the Republican field to corroborate that! I found myself apologizing to my daughters, my 88 yr. old stepmom and Christian friends for the sex in my novel. My daughters thought it was fine, a Christian friend scolded me for apologizing, and my stepmom said it didn’t bother her as much as the time-travel. (I laughed about that!) A women from church was vocal about her distaste, though, and my response was to hold up my favorite author, Diana G., as an example of a bestseller who has broken the mold for sexy historicals. I asked her if she read many mainstream books today? My Austrian niece also couldn’t believe her aunt put the “F” word in my book. I did let it get to me, nevertheless. My next release is a sweetheart rosette (PG rated) for Wild Rose Press coming out in Jan. I’LL let you know how the “experiment” turns out. .

  2. Thanks so much for your comment. CJ. Yes, that’s the exact quote. Do let me know how your experiment turns out. I believe there are audiences for all kinds of books and we need to write what we enjoy writing. I also believe that we should not let other people influence that. I’m having a great time writing the way I do now, but I always enjoyed writing. So who knows? I appreciate you following my blog.

  3. It saddens me just how many ways women are considered bad today. As you know, I’m particularly concerned with “slut”-shaming, and similar bullying. We should all be free to be ourselves, and give ourselves permission to do so–creatively and otherwise. Very thoughtful post, Velda! I learn from you.

  4. Thanks August. I’m always happy when you take the time to read my blog and comment.

  5. gina amos says:

    This is an interesting subject, Velda. I never thought of including sex scenes in my crime novels until a reader (a man) made a similar comment to the one you received. I was told it was a good read but it needed sex scenes. So with book number three about to be released (the first book in the series to include sex scenes) I must say I’m a little nervous about the response I’ll get from my children, my friends, not to mention my husband!!

    • My husband asked me where I learned some of those things, then he laughed. We can’t worry about reactions from friends and family. We’re writing for what we hope are a large collection of readers and need to give them what they want. Beyond that we need to write what we feel like belongs in the story. Thanks for commenting.

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