Today I am happy to introduce you to Jennifer Bosworth, author of Struck!
Girls Who Play With Fire:
Why we need kickass heroines
I was thirteen years old when I saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day for the first time. I wonder now, would I be a completely different person––a person I don’t want to be––if I hadn’t seen T2 when I did?
Yeah, I think I would have. I think T2––specifically Sara Connor’s character––saved me from going down a long, dark, hopeless road.
When my parents dropped me off at the theater, they had no idea I was going to bluff my way into an R-rated movie. That was because I’d lied to them and told them I was seeing something else. They also had no idea I was meeting my boyfriend in the theater, and that I didn’t care what I was seeing because I was there to make out, not watch a movie. I hadn’t even seen the first Terminator at that point.
I stood on tiptoes while I paid for my ticket, hoping my dark blue eye shadow and the wall of bangs––it was the 90s––I’d constructed around my face would convince the cashier I was old enough to see cyborgs shooting people. I met my boyfriend inside and we started making out immediately. But for some reason, when the movie started, he lost interest in kissing. So I grudgingly tamed my raging hormones and focused no the screen.
The movie was good. It was better than good. It was one of the best movies I’d ever seen in my life.
But it wasn’t until Linda Hamilton’s first scene, when Sara Connor is introduced in the psych ward, her bed flipped on its end so she can use the mental frame to do pullups, that I lost all interest in going back to my make out session. For the rest of the movie, my eyes were glued to the screen. My boyfriend pawed at me a few times, but I ignored him. It was all about T2 at that point.
Amendment: It was all about Sara Connor.
That was the day my perspective on women changed. That was the day I stopped wanting to be the girl guys wanted to make out with, and starting wanting to be a girl who kicked ass.
Ah, the formative years.
I have a point, and it is this: strong female characters don’t just have power inside the world of their story. They have the power to change the audience. They can change whole lives. I know that for a fact.
See, I was going through a hard time when I saw T2. I call that period of my life “Black 13,” because those were my dark days. I was at my very worst as a human being, both in
the way I treated myself and how I treated other people. I was horrible to my parents. I hated myself and my body, which led to an eating disorder. I let guys sexually harass me because it made me feel wanted. I didn’t just cut myself; I burned myself. My grades plummeted. I got an F in woodshop. I was in woodshop, for the love of God. What was I doing in there? Aside from learning how to make a toolbox, which, I have to admit, is harder than you’d think. Lots of rivets and machines that bend metal and can crush your hand to a pulp involved.
All in all, I was never more miserable during any other time in my life than during Black 13, nor have I been since.
Years later, when I had some perspective, I began examining that time in my life, trying to figure out what had been going on with me. Why did I go crazy for a year? Why was I so unhappy, so destructive, so obsessed with anything and everything that could get me into trouble?
You would think, being me, that I’d have an answer to that question. But I didn’t. Then I discovered a book by Mary Pipher called “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Lives of Adolescent Girls.” After I read it, I began to understand what was going on. I learned a term called “girl-poisoning,” and realized I had been a victim of this cultural phenomenon.
For a more detailed explanation of girl poisoning, please do read the book. If you have teenage girls or were ever a teenage girl, please, please read this book.
I don’t want to belabor the point, so here it is, in a nutshell: when I was lost in Black 13, I felt like I, as a female, had little worth to society even though I was growing up in an age when feminism was on the rise. You’d think that would have empowered me, but it didn’t. It divided me inside. I had no idea who I was supposed to be. Should I be who my parents wanted me to be? Or who the people I went to church wanted me to be? Or who I needed to be to have cool friends? Or who I needed to be to get boys to like me? Or who society wanted me to be?
Eventually, there wasn’t even a “me” left. I was just a series of split personalities. I was not a whole person, the sum of my parts . . . I was just parts that were coming unglued, and eventually I would have fallen to pieces.
I would have, if it weren’t for Sara Connor.
I saw that badass female character up on screen, and suddenly my pieces started to seal together again. That was my watershed moment. I may not have known who I was, but all at once I knew what kind of person I wanted to be.
Strong. Powerful. A force to be reckoned with. And I wouldn’t have minded having Linda Hamilton’s cut arms either.
My life changed after I saw T2. Correction: I changed my life after that. It wasn’t instantaneous, but once I had the catalyst, it was inevitable.
And that, my friends, is the power of the kickass heroine.
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.
Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.
Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.