Where Are All the Mid-Life Female Protagonists?

So, while browsing Pinterest this morning, I came across a quote that starts, “As I get older . . .” and ends with, “Your late 20s are when you start to figure everything out.”

Late 20’s? Good luck, ladies. Those of us rapidly approaching 50 must report sobering news, we’re still busy trying to figure this life thing out.

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By Brené Brown

Which leads me to another inquiry. . .

If my experience with women all around me moving through their 40s and 50s is any indication, mid-life marks the most profound transformation period of a woman’s life. Yet, I cannot even recall a novel I have read (and that is a whole heckin lot of them) in which the female protagonist strays much beyond twenty-five.

Where are all the mid-life female protagonists?

It’s a big question, people.

Women of my generation need voices of our generation in fiction, particularly in genre fiction such as SFF and historical fiction. Rarely do I find myself in a story where I can relate to the 18-year-old heroine figuring out her life for the first time. I long for characters in which women redeem themselves, come out, or come into their gifts in the middle of their lives instead of having to get divorced and have the whole story revolve around being broken down by a man who left them for, you guessed it, an eighteen-year-old.

We’re dealing with major issues—waking up to the misogyny, homophobia, and racism that permeated our youths; watching our kids cope with tech that exploits them; our own raging hormones and bodies betraying us; careers that were marginalized while we raised children and now we are struggling to reclaim. Many of us desperately wonder what’s realistic to attempt in that reclamation, if we have the time to start over and pursue dreams, if regret will be the devil that derails any enthusiasm.

Yet, we remain under-represented in literature, film, TV. Yes, we show up, but not as leads. What is it about women reaching the middle of their lives that keeps their stories relegated to supporting roles?

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A friend’s response, “A woman at forty or fifty has reached the age that men fear the most—the age of sovereignty.”

Hmmm.

“So go write one,” you shout at the computer screen.

That’s the plan.

Elijah Gale in my WIP Woman On The Wall is 43. She’s got some business to deal with and some life to figure out and the women around her reflect that too. She’s been hammered by her own giant ego, her fear of being ostracized, and a life that has gone sideways. These are the kind of women I want to see in fiction—battle-worn, searching, dealing with their own shadows.

What do you think?  What kind of mid-life badass women of fiction would you like to see in the pages of the next novel you read?

 

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