inarduisfidelis: (bookworms)
[personal profile] inarduisfidelis

1. She knows what she wants.

Mary Russell was fifteen when she met Sherlock Holmes. She met Sherlock Holmes when she literally walked into him whilst wandering the Sussex Downs (near the house where she lived with her grumpy aunt), nose in a book. She was reading this book to educate herself because despite the fact that she had never received formal education beyond primary level, she wanted to go to university to study theology and chemistry. And not only that, she aimed for the best: she wanted to go to Oxford. Now, this is 1915, when it was still pretty unusual for women to be educated at all, far less to study at university. And also, combining science and faith is a pretty big project, but one that she wasn't scared of, or that seemed unmanageable. So that's pretty awesome for starters. And even if it was something else that she was doing, the determination with which she pursues her aim is very inspiring.

2. She's not intimidated by scary creatures, human or otherwise.

I think that probably comes from losing your parents and brother at a fairly young age and being forced to shack up with a mean aunt who draws your purse-strings tight until you're 21. So that must have been pretty tough. If you can deal with that then shady characters and intimidating dogs must be a walk in the park, right?

3. She can challenge Sherlock Holmes in a battle of wits and win.

And she will never forget that triumphant moment when she first beat him at chess.

4. More often than not, her gender is a non-issue in a good way.

True, she cross-dresses fairly often, but especially in BEEK it's noticeable how Holmes and her are friends because they found kindred. Unlike in other circumstances of the society of the time, when she spends time with Holmes, her gender doesn't matter. But at the same time, she's a kickass woman, so as an identification figure, she's a bit like an updated version of Watson: someone in whose shoes you can put yourself when you want to walk with Sherlock Holmes. And it helps that someone actually dared to write those shoes as a woman's shoes. Because, trust me on this, women love Sherlock Holmes.

5. Her physicality.

Women's bodies are a whole matter of their own... Sherlock Holmes neglects and abuses his own body more often than not, and Watson reprimands him because of that all the time. Russell knows how to look after herself. She has height and strength but I love how it takes her time to get used to them, how she grows into her body and learns how to use it (throwing skills anyone?). More often than not it's just kind of assumed in storytelling that people, especially males, know their bodies inside and out, and the only time females' bodies are mentioned is when they're malfunctioning or used for sex.

She's tall and blonde, and while some people find that offputting I think it's awesome. Mainly because I'm short and awkward and can never find clothes that fit, so reading about a tall person who took time to get used to being tall and who spent a long time being awkward about it was a refreshing experience. Also, I know I throw like a girl and it's probably too late to change that, but I'll keep trying ;)

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