I'm writing a novel for the NaNoWriMo contest thingamajigger and I am in desperate need of advice when it comes to women! Let me explain... I'm trying my hardest to avoid cliches and stereotypes, all the while writing a fantasy novel. It's been hard thus far. Nevertheless, the one thing giving me more issues than any other topic is that of strong women. I've always hated the typical waif of a woman who acts like every other woman and is in no way strong or definable other than by her endowments. It's the same, mind you, with the typical brute male who uses massive weapons and resembles more of a caveman than an actual human being. So to avoid both of those, but more importantly the weak/overly sexed woman stereotype, I am clearing the slate in my novel. Women are in the military, they are equal to their husbands, and they have jobs just like anyone else. The problem I am having is defining how that woman reacts to everyday situations. The biggest issue with this is that I cannot describe a strong woman as a woman who goes against the male dominated world since... well, it's pretty much equal to both genders. I've pulled examples from my own life, including my aunt who was perhaps the strongest person I've ever met, but even then I remember distinctly that much of her strength came from proving she was just as good as her husband. So how do I define a strong woman? I think I know the general answer to that, but I'm also coming into conflict with the idea that strength is not always what men describe it as. I was always taught that a strong man is someone who provides for his family, never shows emotions, and is willing to put himself in harms way for those he loves. So these so-called strong women I am to describe are then to be deemed emotionless? I can understand the other two, but I can't help but think emotions are one of the many reasons why women are so important. The reason I bring all of this up is because the main character has an argument with his wife and the wife ends up crying. As soon as I wrote that I took a pause and realized that I had fallen into my own trap. Then again, what he says is terrible and I think it would have brought him to the point of crying if she had said it to him. The only difference is I would have immediately written that he sucked it up and carried on. ARGH! I'm so confused by this. Do I make her emotionless or packed full of them? In our society it is acceptable for a woman to cry, while men are generally thought less of when they do it. If, however, we were all honestly equal with few exceptions would it be alright for anyone to cry? I suppose this is the problem when you live in a society such as ours, one that is defined entirely by our gender or our race, our beliefs, sexuality, or whatever group we cling onto as though it truly matters. I do not mean to start a rant, but it feels as though we divide ourselves so that we may find strength in those who are alike, rather than finding it from within and... right, I'll stop before I start preaching. Sorry. As always, any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.