Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A good example

When my daughter was born I knew that all I wanted was for her to be happy, to be fulfilled, no matter where life took her. As she got older, learnt to speak, she began to have some very definite ideas about what she wanted to be and, like most children, has changed her mind a lot.
At 4 she wanted to be a vet - and then she realised that that involved blood, pus and death, so she ruled out that along with doctor, nurse, dentist.
When she started school she wanted to be a teacher.
Then she wanted to be in a band.
Then a fashion designer.
For the last year she has wanted to be in the police. For anyone who knows my daughter this is probably not surprising.
But yesterday she changed her mind. It would be too hard to be a police lady and have children, she told me, maybe she would be a lady who helps out in schools.
My heart broke.
At just 8 she thinks having a career and a family are incompatible, thinks she can't reach high.
Although I took three years off when she was born she doesn't remember that, she has always known me working and it has always been part time. And she is really proud of what I do, although she has a very tenuous grasp (apparently I work in the bird team! I'm actually a Fundraiser for a regional environmental charity). Of course I have made sacrifices to work part time, entering back into the world of work at a lower level than when I exited, swapping salary and management for school pick up and drop off, attending assemblies and chauffering to activities. And I don't regret that for a moment. But I hate the fact that an 8year old girl sees her life choices as limited.
There is a popular school of thought that sees romance writing, popular women's fiction as regressive but one of the things I love about writing romance is that my heroine can be whoever I want her to be; a lawyer,a journalist, a party girl searching for fulfilment. Open any Mills and Boon and you will see a huge variety of jobs; a medical heroine may be a nurse, she may be a doctor, she may be an occupational therapist or a radiographer. An office romance heroine can be a PA, or a PR specialist, a CEO or a temp. Heroines run their own businesses, own florists, bakeries, coffee shops, hotels, event management companies. They teach, lecture and train. They are many things and by the end of the novel they are strong, empowered and happy. Just like I hope my 8year old will be when she's grown up.

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