Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rise of the Female Robin Hood

I’ve noticed a trend in Robin Hood literature lately. I first noticed it on Figment, when, out of curiosity, I searched for “Robin Hood.” Basically the results could be divided into two categories: 1) BBC fanfiction and 2) girl Robin Hoods.

One in particular struck me: it was about a girl (assumedly Marian) who has taken on the name of her friend, runs a band, and wears a hood to disguise her gender. The book started out with her finding him in the forest.

This isn’t an isolated case. One of the reasons I dislike Hawksmaid is that it makes Marian the mastermind of plans. Rowan Hood has a version of Robin that I very much like, but apparently the reason his disguises always worked before was because Rowan’s mother protected him. So Rowan has to rescue him. At the end of the first book, Rowan establishes her own band. Even BBC Robin Hood, which I like, has a Marian who dresses up and plays a Robin Hood-like role.

It wasn’t until I saw this picture of my childhood Maid Marian turned into a wanted outlaw that I fully realized this trend. My first reaction was: “cool!”

Then I enlarged it, and it began to disturb me. She looks ferocious. She isn’t with Robin--she is him.

Like that story on Figment, she has usurped his place, and what is he going to do now that she’s controlling everything?

Before I go on, I’d like to address something I imagine those who know what I write are thinking: “Woah, wait, Nai. You wrote a Maid Marian book.”

This is true. I think Marian does need updating. In older stories, she’s often just a bit of a cutesy addition, a typical damsel in distress. Or, if not always a damsel in distress, then she’s underdeveloped (Vivian and Green are good examples of likable but vague Marians).

Lovely Olivia is both rather vague and damsel-in-distressy.
Further, though, I would argue that though Marian controls the POV of my story and is thus the main character, she is not quite the hero. She goes through a character change--one could even say she becomes softer, more feminine. Because of Robin Hood. She wouldn’t have gotten involved in his life if he hadn’t brought her in. He knew from early on what her motives were, and he let her stay anyway. He let her hurt him. I think my readers would agree that Robin is the true hero of Forest of Lies.

My Marian has fire and strength, but she doesn’t attempt to be Robin Hood. Women can be strong without becoming men.

And in this roundabout way, I’ve gotten to the heart of the issue.

Marian has usurped Robin because that is the age we live in. There seem to be two extremes: the raging feminists who want to be treated as men, and the most conservative of homeschoolers who believe girls need to own dolls and play harps. As a girl who likes both cross-stitch and stabbing people (fencing), I don’t think these extremes are necessary.

This isn’t just important in our world, but in our stories, as we build heroic men and women.

Just as Robin doesn’t have to be clonking everyone on the head with quarterstaffs to be a man, Marian doesn’t have to steal his name to be worth something. At the same time, she doesn’t have to always be weaving tapestries to be a woman.

They can be partners. Partners in love, partners in adventure. Equal and different.

Man and woman.

Robin and Marian.
H. G. Theaker

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tribute to OYAN Summer Workshop 2012

2 hours, 59 minutes. Name tags. MNU. Nervous laughter. Apprehension. Bell. Enthusiastic welcomes. Tables. Name tags, name tags. Narwhals stolen. Red fedora. Twisted strings. Rolling tables. No room keys. Familiar faces. Unfamiliar hair. Platypi as bush babies. Laughter. Nerves. Joy. Sian. Sandy. Jonny. Braden, Blaine. Kyle. Isaac. On and on. Music, dancing. T-shirts for sale! Room key mess. Survive. Line, line, endless line. 174. Is this 174? Pizza. Time-travel. Brain dead. Hello to strangers. Real names, fake names. Not strangers. Friends. Surprise. Sheepish. Chocolate. Cards. Love. Foot circle. Spider-man and friends. Introduce yourself. Tianna. Hug. Hug forever, please. Just the beginning; not even the beginning. Bed. Sleep.

Dress. Sleeves. TARDIS. Seats. So many. Oh, so many. PenKnights in fedoras. He has the clicker. Mr. S. Every book is a TARDIS. Every writer is the Doctor. Every reader is a companion. It’s here. I can’t believe it’s here. Life. Precious. Important. Shipwreck. Value. On stage. 12th century. Belong. “Food.” Sleeve adventures. Nerves. Owls. Kalina, Lindsay, Miles, Justin, Sandy, Sierra, Brian. Bjorn. Where is Bjorn? Bjorn is late. Uncomfortable. Awkward. Read. Critique. It’s okay. Sporks. Afternoon blur. Skype Er. Hug Tianna, I’m sure. Platypi supper. Laughter. Memories. Stuffed platypi! Gross greasy grouse. Man vs. Cafeteria. Laughter. Pictures. Video. Mark Twain in TARDIS. Golden arm. Amazing. First fifty pages. Cheers. Drink. Cheers. Drink. Cheers. Question and answer. Good stuff. Grassy Knoll. Search for Blaine. OYANers go poof. Curfew. Die. Not really. (Love you, Mr. S.)

Mrs. S. is a pirate. Celtic day. Hug Tianna. Gaelic Gangsters. Dancing Texans don’t dance. Bolts of lightening. No useless knowledge. Leaf. Niggle. Knight of Elyon. Write, always write. Of course. Write. Never stop. Write. Description. Pain in head. Description inhales air quickly. I will learn. Lunch. Light saber fights. Costumes. Costumes. Costumes. Critique group. Bjorn late again. More comfortable. Lone Wolf, Chelsea Smile, Third Time, Forest of Lies...Sporks again. Hug Tianna. Celtic singing. Trash can? Drum. Kilt. Scarborough Fair. Amazing Grace. Food and laughs. Silent football. Mister Gamemaster, sir. Platypi row. Christian Speculative Fiction. Largest group in nation. Too many good books. World details. Long list. I am sunk. I can still learn, right? Music, music, music. Mr. S. is Scottish. Hug. Sing. Dance. Laugh. So many groups. Fiddler on the Roof. Shared cookie. Halfway. How can we be halfway. How?

Pony coloring book. Robin Hood in afro. Or William Tell? Pen mightier than arrow...Publishing houses and proposals. Good with me. Panel. Critique groups. I am late. Mentoring session. Exciting. Editor. New York City. Return. Pepperoni animals. Parliament of Pepperoni Animals Eating Owls with Sporks? Maybe. Just maybe. Whovians. So many. Everything grows. Awful lot of running. Dinner. Ice cream sticks. Laughter. Sides hurt. Contest videos. Braden sings. Crush on characters? Yeeeeep. Adventure box, God box. Same box. <3 C. S. Lewis. Improv. More laughter. Book quotes. Wal-mart. 95% of the Earth. Rebellion! D.y.i.n.g. Posing with TARDIS. Improv team becomes cooler. Kor’Vare is mature. Tired. Sprinklers. Refuse depression.

Prey on the weak that you might be strong. Wow, Sarumon. IRS agent. Accents, accents, more accents. On stage. God through me. Blab. Hope they get it. Think they get it. Jesus won. They must get it. Laughing Lothlorien Ladies. Dudney and Jonny. Mr. S. and Mr. Oswald. Changing world. Exciting. Platypi lunch. Signing t-shirts. Mocking signing t-shirts. Laughter. So much laughter. Late to critiques again. Denouement is working. Hurrah! Important things: signing, signing, signing. Music and tumblr. Disney face swap. Braden. Taped. Execution. Out with the...cameras. Photo shoot of Addison’s face. Mini-Ten and my hat at supper. Calleigh’s swords. Poking. Ice cream contest. It’s almost over. How did this happen. Enjoy it. Enjoy it now. Eat sugar for supper. Real food is bleh. CELERY. CoatRack. Singing. Marxist turtles. Quilt. War of Two Trees. Life and Death. Tears. Thunderous applause. We’re bigger on the inside. Testimonies. So many. More tears. Good tears. That’s love. Love hurts. Beauty hurts. Extended curfew. Still too short. Last hug. She’s gone. Winding down. Prayer. Talking. Ninja. Goodbye, Elizabeth x 6. Cry. Countdown. Love. Tears. Laughter. So. Much. Love. Heaven. Hugs & Tears. Flying man-hugs. Inside jokes. Change the world. O.Y.A.N. Life is good. Very good. Beautiful.

So much to come. Separated. Strong.

OYAN Workshop 2012.

My image.
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