paving the way for nurturing heroines

The article I have selected for this week’s blog post is “Women Warriors and Earth Mothers,” written by Janrae Frank for The Washington Post in 1985. In this newspaper article, she directly mentions Joanna Russ’ The Female Man as an example of the first wave of feminist fantasy literature. The primary point Frank makes is that the first wave of feminist fantasy literature often contained many female warrior characters who embodied the aggressive and violent nature associated with men, whereas the second the wave of post-feminist fantasy literature contained nurturing heroines who embodied wise and passive nature traditionally associated with women. She believes that this nurturing heroine is more virtuous within our violent world. To provide evidence for each of these types of heroines, she provides the reader with specific example novels that contain these types of heroines. For the violent, warrior type she cites Russ’ The Female Man,  Lee’s The Birthgrave, and Karr’s Thorn and Frostflower; for the nurturing, mother type she cites Clayton’s Changer’s Moon, Tarr’s The Golden Horn, and MacAvoy’s The Book of Kells. Through these nurturing. mothering heroines, Frank shows that the aggressive and violent behaviors seen within the warrior heroines are not just undesirable in men, but also within women. She instead opts for a world in which the wisdom and care provide an alternative to our violent world. While this provides an interesting insight into the alternative nature that can be displayed in fantasy heroines, this article is clearly a period of its time. When Russ was writing The Female Man women had not yet gained their place within fantasy fiction, therefore it was necessary for her to develop violent and aggressive heroines to pave the way for these nurturing heroines that would soon follow.

Frank, Janrae. “Women Warriors and Earth Mothers.” The Washington Post. 6 October 1985: p.10. Print.


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