June 14, 2015

Imagine: The Power of Fantasy






Now Trending




follow @sheisfiercehq

Get inspired by our founder and team and our network of mentors and coaches around the world!

Do you have something to share that could help lift up other women?  Let us know!


Imagine: The Power of Books

Welcome to the hallowed halls of Princess Monster Academy!

Here the future leaders of the monster world are prepared for their responsibilities.

Come walk the halls with me and view our portrait collection to learn more about some of the fascinating students who have attended our school…

“I’ve been thinking about fairy tales lately, and how they really don’t serve us.”

We are hanging out at Emily’s fourth birthday party, chatting about life and our random thoughts when AJ says this. I nod my agreement, but the conversation is stalled from going further by the cry of a child or some other distraction and we don’t have time to discuss it further. The party goes on and we leave the discussion, like so many after motherhood, unfinished. I don’t have time to tell her that I’m concerned about the stories we tell also. That I too have been thinking that our stories are not serving us in our lives.

I have been an avid reader as long as I can remember. In fact, I have no substantial memories that pre-date my ability to read. Stories have been, at various points in my life, my escape, my salvation, my deliverance. Growing up in a dysfunctional home, I retreated into the westerns of Louis L’Amour to escape the underlying tension and inevitable explosions of my father’s rage. In junior high, I hid in corners of the library reading choose your own adventure books and Sweet Valley High to escape the tormentors who bullied me. And today I escape into fantasy books to deliver me from the monotonous routines of endless laundry and meal prep that come with motherhood.

When I am reading a book, I am instantly transported to another world. Sometimes I still live half inside that world for days, which is why I love reading stories about magical worlds. The possibilities suddenly seem limitless when my mind has inhabited such a world for a few days or weeks. I love that feeling. A flickering just outside of my field of sight is suddenly a fairy. A synchronistic moment becomes magic.

Recently I attended an author event at my local library. It was wonderful to connect with other local authors and discuss the craft and business of writing. One writer came up to my table and we chatted about our work. I asked what she was working on and she said she was world building for a future sci-fi novel. What an opportunity I thought, that sci-fi and fantasty writers have. Of course, every fiction writer does world building to some degree, but in particular authors of sci-fi and fantasy have an opportunity to create without any limitations. The only rules they must pertain to are the ones that they create. Their stories do not have to be “believable” in the same way that stories set in our world do.

Lately I have been reading a whole lot of fun, escapist fantasy books. Written mainly by women, and featuring female leads as heroes, these stories let me imagine a life of great daring and adventure, without having to actually suffer the hardships of weapons training or treks through desserts. But as I plow through these stories, I have noticed a trend that seriously diminishes my enjoyment factor. These writers, who can create any world they desire, still continue to re-create patriarchy. The characters may have fantastical abilities, but the world is the same old mysoginistic, male-dominated world, in which women grow up in fear of sexual violence and slavery.

Just take a moment to really let that sink in.

If someone told you that you had the power to create a world, would your first thought be to continue re-creating a culture that de-values and debases women? A world in which rape is commonplace and women have little to no power in the institutions that run their countries?

I find it disturbing that some of our most creative writers cannot imagine equality. Because if they cannot imagine it, those who live inside the worlds that they create, then how can we?

I remember the story of how Martin Luther King Jr asked Nichelle Nichols to remain in her role as Lietenant Ohura on Star Trek. He told her that her role on that show was important to the civil rights movement because it showed a future where equality was possible. Nichols had already handed in her letter of resignation, but changed her mind when King’s impassioned plea changed her thinking. She realized that black men and women saw her character as a symbol of the future they were fighting for.

In a more modern version, actress Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin spoke eloquently about the difference having a Latina community positively represented on television makes when she accepted her Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV series:

“It allowed Latinas to see themselves in a beautiful light. When we look into that screen, we change the way we feel about ourselves; we change our perception of ourselves by the way art has created such a ripple effect. And if we can create an effect that shows Latinos like the investment bankers, doctors, lawyers that existed in my own home, I think that will change the way young girls and boys look at themselves. … we are dealing with a society that is diverse, that is so beautiful and human — we all need to remember that we all have the same stories and see them as such.”

The stories that we tell determine our reality. The archetypes that we create imbue our collective conscious with a framework that we use to build the world. So tell me, how can we create a world in which women are equal when even the most creative and limitless among us cannot? This question troubles me.

When I wrote Princess Monsters from A to Z, I was just making a little alphabet book for girls. But I wanted that world to represent the world I wanted them to live in. So I began the book with this phrase:

Here the future leaders of the monster world are prepared for their responsibilities.

I imagined a world in which girls were trained to take on a leadership role in their communities. I really hope that more authors will join me. I believe that we have a responsibility to not just our readers, but to the collective conscious.

One of my favourite fantasy writers is Canadian author Charles De Lint. In one of his novels, there exists a world entirely comprised of stories. All the worlds and characters of our stories are stitched together much like a patchwork quilt. Whenever a story falls out of favour, that part of the land and the characters die off. But the stories that are told over and over continue to thrive.

We must ask ourselves what kinds of stories we want to survive. Because AJ was right, so many of our stories are not serving us. With just a little imagination, we could create a whole new world.


Joyelle Brandt, She Is Fierce! Contributor

Joyelle Brandt

Joyelle Brandt is the author/illustrator of Princess Monsters from A to Z. She is a passionate mama and creator, and a lover of dark chocolate, iced coffees and feathered earrings. Joyelle lives and creates from the mantra LOVE, KINDNESS, GRATITUDE.

Meet Joyelle here… www.joyellebrandt.com or on Facebook orInstagram

The comments +

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get a special delivery each week with inspiration, inspiring profiles, free resources to help you up-level your life!

Jump in!





You're In! The Passion & Purpose Challenge is on its way to your inbox!