I found Erika Johansen’s book The Queen of the Tearling on a list from the Calgary Public Library. I can’t remember what the list was about, but I glad I stumbled upon it because I really enjoyed this book!
This is a post-apocalyptic book that also shows an attempted fail at creating a utopia. It’s good to get out of the real world and imagine what could happen if…
The book revolves around Kelsea who was raised by foster parents in the forest and on her 19th birthday becomes Queen. She sees the devastation and poverty of the field workers as she makes her way to the castle. She see the horrors of a complete unfair treaty with the neighbouring country and stops it her very first moment entering the keep gates. As she tries to create a country that is equal, fair, and good for all, she faces years of corruption and violent resistance. Yet she has a strong and loyal Queen’s Guard to protect her and guide her and she has two magical sapphire stones around her neck.
My favourite part of the novel was the scene where Kelsea, who in her dreams is able to see visions of what is happening in different areas of her kingdom, tries to convince her body guard and the head of the Queen’s Guard to leave in the middle of the night to go and save women and children from being exported to the neighbouring country by the black market king in order to keep his relationship with the corrupt Queen next door. In the scene, Kelsea orders her Guard to get up, pack, and leave. They try to convince her that it was just a dream, that she was acting hysterical, and that she needed to get some sleep. They continued to dismiss her and even tried to physically restrain her. Luckily for her, the magic sapphires allowed her the strength to push these men through the air and against the wall, and that convinced them to follow her direct orders. Think of what they missed out on by ignoring her and treating her knowledge as unreliable. Think of what would have happened to hundreds of women and children if she didn’t have the power of the sapphires to help her.
The frustration of being told she was just a young woman, that she was crazy, and that the men around her knew better made by blood boil. That powerlessness, and that feeling of righteous anger hit me hard. There are moments in life where men wield their historical patriarchal power and physical power to try to control a situation that they have no business controlling. There are also moments in my life where men have tried to tell me they knew better because they were men and that I was crazy. I don’t know if men ever have these moments of complete and utter removal of power. Do they even know what it feels like to be dismissed and controlled?
Today I am joining millions of women around the world to march. I am marching because we have a lot of work to do in North America in regards to the treatment of women. We need more say in political arena, businesses, schools, and homes. We as humans need to recognize the benefit of giving power instead of striping away power. It is a privilege for me to live in a country where it is a Charter Right that I am allowed to gather, meet, and march with thousands of other women in my city to show my solidarity with women’s rights and the fight for equality.
Today I remember all the women whose voices have been taken away or silenced. Today I remember all of the women whose power was taken away simply because of their sex. Today I celebrate that women can make a difference and that we are persons. The meeting point for the march today is at the Famous Five statue, a place that honours women fighting for equal rights.
“Phallocentrism is the enemy. Of everyone. Men stand to lose by it, differently but as seriously as women.” (Helene Cixous)
“This is how women are trained to stay indoors, she thought, the idea echoing in her mind like a gravesong. This is how women are trained not to act.” (Erika Johansen)