Friday, November 27, 2015

Tehanu

girl on cliff
Detail from "Therru's Star", Fanart for Ursula Le Guin's Tehanu. The titular character Tehanu (aka Therru), is a survivor of horrific childhood abuse.

I wouldn't say I enjoyed reading "Tehanu". The pages provide continual reminders of the ever-present threat of rape and torture directed towards women of all ages and social circumstances: innocent children born into abusive families; young women who run away from home, only to run into abuse and exploitation; and middle aged widows whose only crime was to be female.

You don't have to read a fantasy novel to see stories like these. Just read the news from around the world.

On a more positive note, you don't have to read a fantasy novel to find people who triumphed over their experiences of childhood abuse. Here are some real life Tehanus. Some transcended their trauma and went on to impact the lives of many other people in a positive way. Some may be more controversial figures. But none of them allowed the rest of their lives to be defined by past victimhood. Like Tehanu, they became dragons, each in their own way :

  • Phoolan Devi - former Indian Member of Parliament
  • Arn Chorn-Pond - Cambodian human rights activist, founder of Children of War
  • Antwone Quenton Fisher - American director, author and film producer
  • Oprah Winfrey - American philanthropist and media proprietor dubbed "the most influential woman in the world"
  • Maya Angelou - American author, dancer, actress, and singer

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