How does this picture make you feel? It depresses me.
It’s a photo of the wives of the G7 leaders, currently meeting in France. (I don’t know who the dude is on the right, but I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that he’s an aide. Although he looks a little bit like Justin Trudeau.)
So the First Ladies and Dude are watching a performance by Basque dancers, although the First Ladies don’t look like they’re enjoying it much. They got dragged to a bunch of stuff on this cultural tour, including an inspection of the locally grown peppers, which they ate at dinner. I bet inspecting those peppers was a lot of fun. However, they did go to a wine tasting, so maybe they copped a few bottles for the hotel room later.
The G7 conference seems like it would be an excellent time for Brigitte and Melania, not to mention Akie, Cecilia, Jenny, and Malgorzata to slip out for a fun day of shopping and mani-pedis, or maybe check out the Louvre or La Cité des sciences et de l’industrie. They could pursue their own areas of interest and, you know, maybe bond. Unlike their husbands, back at the G7, who are more or less at each other’s throats. Peppers? Come on.
The other part of this photo that depresses me is that it’s the wives of the G7, not the spouses. (Well, there’s that Dude. Whoever he is.) Yesterday I went to see Maiden, a documentary film about the first all-female crew that sailed the Whitbread Race (now called the Ocean Race) in 1989. A race in which journalists and fellow competitors called the female sailors “girls” (although, like the men, the women risked their lives in the race), predicted they wouldn’t finish the first leg, mocked them, and called them names. That was in 1989, people.
And still today, thirty years later, six of the seven spouses of the G7 leaders are women. (Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, is married, but I couldn’t discover if her husband went along to the summit. He’s not in this photo.) Will there ever be a day when seeing women being something other than adjuncts or oddities feels normal?
Maybe I’m just being sensitive.
And maybe that’s why I write romance novels. A genre in which most of the writers and readers are women, where feelings and community matter, and the main characters are women who work toward their dreams and get them. In other words, where women are central to the action.
Yeah, that’s probably why I write romance novels.