I've just read OSC's Shadow Puppets. (Oh, right, warning of spoilers on that book ahead!) A great read, as expected. But there was one thing that bothered me and reminded me that many movies/books do the same thing: it takes the female heroes out of the action when they become in love/married/pregnant.
I first noticed this in the Matrix. There's Trinity - a warrior of a woman - who meets the love of her life. In the second and third movie she is reduced to being "the hero's girl". She still does some heroics but much less than before. And everything she does is in the name of the love between herself and Neo.
Starwars (the new trilogy) also does this. In the firt and second movie, Padme is a fighting queen/senator that does not let others do her job. In the third movie, she is reduced into being Anakin's girl/wife and the vessel for his children. She does absolutely nothing worth mentioning (except jogging in a dead sprint 9 months pregnant - with twins, I might add. That's quite an accomplishment; ruined the whole movie for me...).
***SPOILERS ON SHADOW PUPPETS AHEAD!!!***
The fate of Petra Arkanian in Shadow Puppets is similar. She turns from a brilliant military commander into a child-bearing machine, left behind by her husband, pushed into a completely passive role.
As said before, I loved the book. I just liked Petra's fate a little less.
Is Shadow Puppets the last one? I have to admit (spoilers possible) that I had a lot more trouble with the role she took on in the final book (which I think is Shadow of the Giant) where she basically goes missing from her kids. But I won't talk too much about that, as it's not the point of your post and you may not have read that one.
I have heard many complaints about Petra's role in this series in general. They start from the very beginning - why is it the *girl* who breaks down in the final battle in Ender's Game? Etc. etc.
I think OSC recognizes this and tries to address it in his shadow series books, and gives some leadership opportunities to some women (though mostly they end up seeming a little nutty by the end - I can't remember the name of the one in India, Vasomething?) But it's still one of the things that bothered me about his books, and yes - I've seen it in other books and settings as you've described.
The solution? To write strong female protagonists, I think. To write from their points of view. To include the roles of childbearing and mothering into the protagonists' lives. Unfortunately, though, many exciting and adventurous plots don't have a natural fit with the physical constraints of pregnancy and childcare. However, that "mother bear" icon of doing anything to protect her children is worth exploring, as are conflicts between mother's desires to reconcile the differences between her pre-child-bearing life and her post-child-bearing life. These are themes that all mothers go through, so I think there's some strong appeal in those concepts. Then there are also concepts around choosing to be childless/mateless (particularly in a society where partnering is seen as the norm) or who are unable to create the family life they envisioned for whatever reason (death of spouse, illness, environment conditions, etc.)
There's a lot of story ideas in there. I should hold onto this for days when I'm feeling depleted. Anyone else please feel free to mine for ideas that strike you - I do think these are some universal challenges women/mothers face and are well worth exploring.
Oh, this is good news for me if it's so. My female warrior protagonist has a four-year-old adopted son, and circumstances force her to take him with her on her travels.
One of my worries is that it is too unrealistic. Do any of the mothers here want to speak for how they would hold up, mentally, with their child injured in battle and in constant danger, some of which they chose themselves? I'm not a mother and I know that having a child changes you. But I want to deal honestly with the turmoil of fighting to protect your child / being unable to protect them.
People who don't have children should be cautious about introducing characters who routinely take their offspring into harm's way. Most parents who read such situations will find them hard to accept. When you're a parent, you tend to want to take yourself -- and your kids -- as far away as you can from anything even remotely dangerous. This necessarily limits what your character(s) can do. Dads and Moms both.
Now, defending those offspring against an impending harm that cannot be avoided, that's different. You could write lots of "action" stories about parents forced into "warrior mode" because something(s) is endangering the kids. THAT is believable.
One thing I did notice when my wife became pregnant: her entire emotional focus shifted to the baby. She decided she wanted to stop working, took a break from finishing her degree, and pretty much spent the first three years being a Mama. This was her choice, and I was pretty much supporting whatever decisions she made, in terms of childcare.
She eventually did finish her degree and is just now, as our daughter enters her sixth year, going back to work.
Not every woman will make the decisions my wife made. But to think that having a baby and/or being married won't change a strong female -- her decisions, her priorities, her choices -- is not really accurate IMHO.
Ditto for the Dads, presuming they are responsible. Male characters who get married and/or have kids, and keep romping off into one dangerous situation after another, should have a pretty darned good reason for doing so. Like, being under orders with the military, or something. And even then, once you become responsible for one or more people -- especially kids -- your entire mechanism for decision-making becomes altered.
Because the fact is, once you are a parent, it 'aint about "you" anymore. Everything becomes about "them" and this is the way it should be, really.
Brad (or anyone) - do you think it would be a satisfying resolution to a story if it was the child, not the parent, who took the critical actions in the climax? I know the going wisdom is that a protagonist must be proactive in solving their problems - and in my case, the mother carries the emotional focus of her plot threads. Could the parental pride evoked in seeing a child succeed be strong enough to counter the mother's uncharacteristic passivity?
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I have a recently-graduated four year old (she turns five in 14 minutes...) She is an exceptional little girl, but she is a little girl. There is little she does outside the confines of our home without permission/direction from me/approval. When we're in parking lots she holds my hand, getting into the car she buckles her seat belt, but she doesn't have a choice in what actions we take, whether we go to that store or not (within reason. She has been known to pitch large fits which cause me to change plans, but that's pretty rare.) Her emotions are still all over the place - she, like most 4/5 year olds, gets very cranky when hungry or tired, which comes to a head at about 5/6 PM (right before dinner) which today involved big huge crocodile tears because the playdate and her brother and brother's playdate weren't playing something that included her. She gets very excited about certain things and gets very fixated on things (has a good memory, too, for the things I tell her.)
One thing about these characteristics in a story would be that it would be a useful exposition method, for the mom to explain to the child what their plans are (and then non-verbal worry to herself about what the plans *really mean* as she's putting the child to bed, then cleaning her weapons once he's asleep.)
She's rational without being 100% rational, she's able to do a lot but still completely dependent in many ways. At 5 she's not into cuddling much anymore, though that's partly personality - but she's very independent, but yet acts/talks like a baby sometimes (attention-seeking behavior I'm sure.)
Anyway - not that this thread was about 4 year olds, but I figured I could offer some insights having recently done the four year old thing.
Pyrax, if you want additional insights - maybe start a new topic? You may get broader input that way, or be able to paint out your scenarios in a bit more detail. I feel like there's too much I don't know about your story to be able to tell you whether I'd feel proud of my child for takes the critical actions. I'd probably be entirely too busy beating myself up for not being the one to take the risk. If somehow I had inadvertently put my child in harm's way, I would spend every ounce of my ability to think and process information on finding a solution to get my child out of harm's way and/or in paralysis (I hear this happens) and the related beating-up-of-oneself about what stupid decisions I made that led to the situation. This isn't your average "gosh I shouldn't have done that, that was stupid." It's "I am too stupid to be a parent, I should never have been given charge over this small child. If anything happens to him I will die. My life is worthless without this small person. I am the most selfish person in the world (in the case where you're busy doing something and something bad happens to your child who is close but not close enough for you to prevent the injury) for being engrossed in that newspaper for those 28 seconds." and a whole bunch of other stuff you can't even verbalize, it's just a big dark cloud of angst and self-hatred and fear. The kind of fear that makes your sweat smell funny and your face twist into unrecognizable shapes.
I have a four year old too. If I saw my four year old 'save the day'. I would be most concerned with how it would effect her. Hopefully the child doesn't kill anyone because I would find that horrifying as a parent and immediatly put my child in counseling. Not that I would think my child is horrible but I would be so worried about any psychological damage. If it doesn't involve killing then I might be worried about the increased fame. Whatever happens my mind would immediatly begin to tally how it might effect her and would the effect be good or bad and how can I mitigate the negative. I am always proud of my daughter. Speaking a clear sentence using big words makes my heart leap. Watching her mind work, hearing her tell the truth in a difficult situation all make me feel proud. It's a daily occurence, in other words it's incredibly easy to be have overwheming pride.
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I was watching an episode of NUMBERS. This was one of the ones about rape. The lengths the characters go to "help" the victim recover from the trauma are nigh onto herculean. And I think back over history and how common it seems rape was especially in the ancient world. Just surviving rape by an invading army was a plus. There must have been a lot of seriously messed up women back then. And kids and men, too. But we as writers seem to gloss over that.
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In general I would agree that I would expect a parent to do whatever they could, avoiding conflict, to keep their child out of harm's way. But I wonder how much of that is cultural? What about a culture that might value, in certain circumstances, honor or courage or what-have-you over the value of one's life? I could see a trial-by-fire for the child, a rite of passage, particularly in a warrior society.
And on the subject of female characters dropping out of the picture for love or motherhood. (SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD!)
Alias season 5 bothered me for the exact opposite reason. Sydney's pregnant, yet is actively throwing herself into harm's way episode after episode, getting in gunfights, a tiny bit of martial arts. More than once, somebody points out that someone else could be doing this work, but not very vehemently, and she pushes on, saying something like "I won't be safe until these bad guys are gone". It struck me not as heroic, but just plain irresponsible and totally devaluing the life of her unborn child.
Actually, arriki, the ancient world didn't have the societal rules we have. People as a whole didn't look at it as we do today. It wasn't frowned upon to rape a woman when you were the victor--it was part of the spoils of war. Some cultures didn't attach shame to it, and men were not lesser for doing it or being born of it. In fact, in many cultures women were just possessions. Even as late as the American Revolution, redcoats were raping women in front of their children at bayonette-point. Also, in that time, if a girl was sixteen or seventeen, she was likely maried and/or pregnant.
So, in conclusion: If you are raised to be a possession and have no point of reference to say what's happening is wrong, your mind may not be as consumed with it.
And as far as writers, Steven Pressfield dealt with it in the beginning of Gates of Fire, Conn Iggulden dealt with it in his Emperor series, Kevin J. Anderson dealt with it in his Saga of Seven Suns, Octavia E. Butler dealt with it in Wild Seed (as a matter of fact it became a great deal of the plot), Gary Brandner dealt with it in The Howling, Jean M. Auel dealt with it in Clan of the Cave Bear, David Gemmell dealt with it in The Hawk Eternal, Sir Walter Scott in Rob Roy, Bernard Cornwell in his Warlord Chronicles.
However, I think most fantasy writers stay away from that side of a story. I've read many fantasies where if there was any type of sex, it was implied.
[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited December 09, 2008).]
I think it all depends on the age of the child. If the child in your story is between 12 and 15, I could see it as being both acceptable and realistic. A child of that age is essentially a young adult and able to operate as such.
10 years old, or younger, and it strains suspension of disbelief. As noted up-thread, younger children aren't given many choices, and also rely greatly on parents for direction. For a young child to take such a pivotal final role in an outcome that has largely depended on parental action... Hmm, I would have to read the whole story to give a more informed opinion.
My gut tells me that if the final climax of the story depends on the actions of the child, not the mother, then perhaps it's the child who ought to be the focus of the story, with the mother as a secondary?
Some nights I lie awake worrying about what if my son gets hurt, what if one of us (his parents) die, what if... it can be debilitating. And I have nothing to worry about! Just the distant possibility of any of us in harm's way is disturbing, for the effects it would have on him. And yet people do live in difficult circumstances throughout the world. I imagine them hunkering down and protecting their own.
My story has a mother and young child, with a few mild adventures, and the need for a home base where they can stay out of the way most of the time. I may remove them because their role is not significant. I can't see making them experience much action. But, they work well for other story aspects.
If my almost-five year old son faced danger, he would wet his pants and either freeze or hide behind the nearest parent. Heck, he hides behind me and won't say a word when he meets most strangers, no matter how friendly. He shakes when he's scared, and bawls when he's really scared. He loves stories of adventures, as long as they aren't too scary (and you never know what that might be). He practices killing fake monsters. The real thing... no way.
But if I got hurt and couldn't get to the phone, I could see him calling 911 with some gentle coaxing. There are lots of ways to save the day, perhaps where the child does the right thing without realizing the danger or the importance of the situation.
A different society would take a lot of careful work to make the reader accept it. Even in warrior societies, I expect young children to stay with the women.
[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited December 09, 2008).]
You know, I'm not disputing the validity of rape, right? I was merely mentioning the effects would have to have been different in a time when it was common and not considered a crime.
What do you think would happen to a twenty-five year old man, today, if he tried to marry a 14 year old? Would it be widely accpeted, like in the 1700s? Would he be called a pedophile and have his junk cut off? Would he be labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life, making computer lists and having to inform his neighbors everywhere he moved? I believe--as I have just demonstrated--that the culture has much to do with the "accepted" and "non-accepted" behavior of people, and the mentality (mass or otherwise) that they have.
Consider how The Spartans thought of helots, would there be the least bit of guilt?
I can see how it would motivate a female character in ancient times; I can see it degrading a female character in ancient times, but realistically, she may feel it more so than say the maid that finds her, or other characters that should be--by today's standards--sympathetic.
[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited December 09, 2008).]
Going back to the original post - you have to look at the society we live in now and the society the world is based on. As IB notes, the acceptable roles for women will be dicated by whether its 1776, 1876, 1996 or 2076.
In the Star Wars books, they did the same thing with Leia. She became a baby machine although she stayed a Senator. But again, you have to ask not whether you agree with the choice but whether the choice was consistent with the character.
In The Woman Warrior which is a collection of short stories, the woman that Disney later based Mulan on gets pregant while fighting and pretending to be a man. She has the child and gives him up so she can keep fighting.
I have a strong female MC who doesn't want to do the marriage and children thing because she doesn't want to "give up," in her mind, her life. Before I get flamed - Not that that's my perception, I have two sons and a more than full time job and somehow manage to keep sanity for all of us including the husband. But it's her POV and her desire to keep her perceived freedom is a main plot device.
Pryaxis - whether it's unrealistic for your MC to take the son with her depends on the society you've created and your MC. Spartan boys were training and fighting at age 7. That culture was based on the premise boys would be fighters. So, the angst level, while it would still be there probably wouldn't be the same for a Spartan mother as it would for me if my son was drafted. If toting the kid (or even if the camp followers and harlots tote thier kids) is normal for the society, AND you establish that fact before the kid enters the scene, the reader should accept it. I might have trouble with a 4 year old saving the day, but other than the age issue, I would accept (depending on what lead to it) someone other than the MC striking the final blow.
Harry Potter Spoiler So, in Harry Potter I would not have been happy if someone other than Harry did in Voldemort.
But if that story had been set up differently, I would have accepted someone else taking that final action.
And marriage is about more than love, believe me. You generally need love to get a marriage started, but as anyone who has been married longer than about 12 years can testify, love 'aint enough. You need dedication and commitment and humility and the ability to admit you're wrong even when you're positive you're not wrong.
Marriage limits freedom because marriage requires you to partner with another human being, which means most of your major (and many minor) decisions now become joint decisions. When you can't do something without consulting someone else, your freedom is limited.
NOTE: I am not saying this is a bad thing, mind you. It's just reality.
Also, marriage essentially bars you from engaging in sexual or romantic relationships with others outside the marriage. That's certainly a limit on freedom. One that many people find they can't live without, hence the huge number of divorces traced to infidelity.
Marriage also demands that you stick out the rough spots: no bailing when the road gets rocky. But people do it all the time because people are lazy or don't make good choices about who they marry in the first place.
Bold, heroic characters used to making their own decisions and doing whatever they want, will necessarily find themselves grappling with the loss of freedom and total independence, should they ever marry or become involved in a committed romantic relationship. This is why it's become a true-to-life cliche that many bold and adventurous characters fear and shun attachment, because once you get attached to a person and start owing that person things -- loyalty, fidelity, consultation -- your ability to be an at-will swashbuckler is drastically muted.
quote: So, let me get this straight: You think meeting someone and falling in love with them doesn't change you?
It changed me. But I've not become passive because of it. On the contrary.
Okay, that's you. (I'm assuming "Martin" isn't a girl's name.) How can you speak for a girl/woman, if you only think like a man?
You started off discussing OSC's Shadow Puppets and how Petra was, but, if you've paid attention, she changed over the course of a few books. Why can't she decide she doesn't want to play war anymore? In case you overlooked it, women mature much faster than us.
In Trinity's case, she was tough because she needed to be tough, and she didn't go all wishy washy (and apparently you're forgetting Jada Pinkett(?) Smith). She was just as tough, the only major change is when she found her "love", she had something to lose. (As can be said for Petra, but only with an exponentially large chance of losing her love--and she knows it the whole time.) As for Padme being a "fighting queen", I didn't see it. What because she rushed back to give the order to attack the trade federation? Because she fired a blaster? No, to me, she's always been a bit soft if willfull. Granted Episode 2 had some repetitive and drawn out "love scenes" but they involved Anakin being a wuss, too. Episode 3 was a disappointment for me on many levels--not the least of which was waiting 20 years for it to come out--but I didn't see much change in her character at all. I just didn't believe Anakin's descent or the whole "nothing's physically wrong with her, she's just lost the will to live" crap. (I fear a disagreement over Star Wars--any episode--would be like picking an almost healed scab to see it bleed.)
Yeah, being in love changes someone. It makes them more careful of those they care about, for one. How many times have you seen the warrior rushing fearlessly into battle because he has nothing to live for, and changing suddenly when he has someone to love (and it costing him his life)? Why is it acceptable for a man but a weakness for a woman?
Only a man would think that being 'domesticated' is easier than being in the middle of the action.
SPOILER ABOUT A VERY OBSCURE BOOK: One of my favorite authors with a strong female protaganist is Sally Watson. At the end of her book Lark, Lark is left with her adventurous grandmother while James goes off to rescue King Charles II. Lark complains that it's harder to be left behind and that if women are the weaker sex, they need to explain how much harder it is to stay at home. Her grandmother says,
quote:Fiddlesticks! Most men think that, poor dears, and even a good many women, I dare say. But I know better, and I think you do too...But we can endure better--both physical pain and things like fear and uncertainty and worry. And since God has given us this special sort of strength, presumably He expects us to use it.
Certainly, a woman can be a strong protaganist and do heroic things, and I love books like that. But there is nothing weak about being the symbol of what makes a way of life worth fighting for either. Deciding to take care of children is not a wimpy choice, and I think that most authors who have taken the time to craft a strong heroine and then let her take a 'supporting role' are honoring that choice.
[This message has been edited by Unwritten (edited December 09, 2008).]
What about Ripley? Getting impregnated didn't seem to slow her down. Of course, the baby wasn't human and the movies really went to the dogs from there...
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I'm reminded of Eowen of Rohan, too, who really wants to go fight with the other men. There's even some precedent in her culture for it, if my memory serves me. Aragorn says something about how it takes more strength to hold down the home front, than to go off and fight. I may be conflating the books and movies (it's been too long since I read the books).
I sort of ran into this in my WIP. I have a war going on, and my female MC doesn't get involved until later. At first I thought, geez, how boring, she's sitting around waiting for things to happen, but then I realized I wasn't thinking enough about it. Of course, she would have her hands full, and in many ways, staying at home trying to fend off chaos, fear, and support the troops is just as difficult than fighting. An especial challenge for her, because she's so action oriented.
While it's a cliche - love changes everything - and to borrow the rest of the line from Aspects of Love - and not always for the best.
It's not that love (whether of a mate or child) makes a woman passive, I'd actually argue it does the opposite. Just threaten my husband or children and you'll find out exactly how not passive I am. But what choices we make is a complex funciton of personality, society, biology, economy and thousands of other little issues.
Let me put that in a few different contexts:
In a society where people still grow their own food, it's more likely that the women will take over the child care duties at least for the first few years since we make the milk to feed the babies.
In a society where formula exists, but the cost of having a parent out of the house is more expensive than having that parent stay home, it's likely that only one parent will work. Which parent that is depends on soceity/econcomy. If the female can earn better wages, she's likely to be the working spouse. If society is closed or limited to females then the men will work.
In a society where formula exists, and the cost of both parents working is less than the costs of alternate child care OR the only way to afford true necessary expenses is both parents working, it's more likely that both will work.
In a society where formula exists, both are required to work and the "state" provides child care. Both will work.
Now take an individual and put them in those social/economic situations. If you take the first situation where the woman staying home is necessary for the survival of the child, what happens when your female MC doesn't want to dedicate herself to that requirement? Now you have at least one arch of a story. If you take the last situation, what happens when the MC (male or female) refuses to leave the child?
So I go back to my last post - the issue isn's whether you agree with the characterization but whether the choice the character makes is consistant or not.
Also, for anyone who thinks staying at home is easier . . . I offer you a weekend of babysitting my two ADD boys.
annepin, you are correct. J.R.R. Tolkien did use a mix of Celtic/Norse culture to create Rohan. Both of these cultures had female warriors. They were in a minority, but they still fought. These shield maidens were so called, because they specialised in defensive warfare.
We remember the phrase 'right hand man', the warrior who fought beside the thane (chieftain) on his right, we often forget the shield maiden the 'left hand woman'. Often equipped with shield and spear, swords were a rarity, her job was to defend the thane at all costs. She was usually unmarried with no children, but related to the thane, thus 'maiden'.
However if the fight reached the general populance, the very fact that many of the now married women could fight, changed everything. They could drive away even a determined military force. I would cite the historical example of the Romans, when they tried to invade Skye. MacDonald of the Isles had gone a viking (marauding) in Ireland, leaving the women, children and old men alone. His wife awoke from a dream where she saw the Romans invading. She gathered the women, they prepared for war and they fought the Romans from the cliffs and shore, with spears, shields, bows and stones. The Romans retreated, and NEVER went back. To this day the Gaelic name for Skye translates as 'The Isle of Strong Women'
There is perhaps a good reason why Gods of War are men, whilst the female equivalents are almost always Goddesses of Defensive Warfare who double as Goddesses of Crafts, i.e. Athena, Minerva, Brigid, Brigantia. Archetypes are alive and well even in the modern day.
Androcentrism: dominated by or emphasizing masculine interests or masculine points of view.
Hero, 2a: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work. [Webster's 11th Collegiate]
From my nonandrocentric point of view, a heroine sidetracked into biological destiny is a vestigial legacy of chauvanism from the past heyday of Patriarchal dominance in society. In it's way, it's a default fallback for how a female character is expected to have a happy outcome. I'm put off by stories where there's no good purpose for a female character to have expectable, predestined outcomes. I'm also not overly fond of stories where a female character is inserted into a male role without a uniquely feminine motivation and vice versa. I cherish stories where a female character experiences experiences I as a male am unlikely to experience, but can experience vicariously through a story.
Male and female persons have distinct and separate identities and roles predicated largely upon biology and, to a lesser extent in open societies, social imprinting. In story, portraying one or another sex as a central character requires me to ask why a man or a woman is essential in a particular role.
I believe a heroine who winds up on the biological destiny track should have that as her desired outcome or as a consequence, the accommodation of the failure to achieve a different yet relevant desire. Otherwise, it's a sidetrack, a digression, and the plot lapses out of incoherency. However, I prefer when a heroine saves the day, fails to save the day, achieves personal growth, or changes in ways that are unique to womankind without resort to biological predetermination.
As to a child saving the day, the youngest murderer on record is an eight-year-old boy. Recently, in fact, within the last several months and it's looking like premeditated murder. Apparently, chlldren have the capacity for violence when push comes to shove. Then there's the phenomena of children deployed in warfare, handgrenades placed by children in barracks during the Vietnam War. I've never believed the children didn't have some inkling of the consequences and sufficient motivation to do harm.
On the other hand, a child hero or heroine might be just as likely to save the day in exigent circumstances, but not much younger than eight years old. Younger children don't have the capacity for deliberate violence, developmentally or emotionally. Though there's uncommon anecdotes of four-year-olds saving the day by calling for help to save an incapacitated caregiver.
I don't think marriage limits as much as having kids. When my husband and I were childless we did alot, went out every night, saw every movie, played video games all Saturday. Then we had a baby and everything changed. Suddenly it was difficult to get in a TV show uninterrupted. What I wanted changed too. I liked my work but it became a burden that got in the way of taking care of my baby, so I stayed home. The older they got the more freedom returns. I can do a lot with just my four year old now, but running around fighting would be difficult. But then, as parents you do what you have to do. I'm writing this as my four year old hits her head underneath the table and comes screamming and crying to me. You'd have to have one tough or extordinary four year old. I think Ender's Game gets away with it by setting up that Ender is a one of a kind genius.
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This may have been mentioned already so forgive my poor reading skills, but the talk of culture and women's roles in culture, etc...
We currently have a very good sociological experiment currently going on here in Uncle Sam country. Namely, a war on two fronts with men and women serving two more more tours in a combat zone. Especially with the Reserve and National Guard units doing a lot of the work, our society has all kinds of women heading households while Odysseus goes to war. And men, too, as heads of households (or, is it just 'household'? anyway...).
Gender roles are blurring. A good thing or not, I don't know, but cultures change, obviously, and these wars seem to have accelerated the blurring of roles, I think.
Um. Actually don't know if any of the preceding was pertinent to anything, but I have a tendency to blurt stuff out.