In the early 1980s, I was working toward an MFA and one of my courses was a self-directed project monitored by a faculty adviser. The project was my memoir of fighting in the Vietnam War. A few years after completing the memoir, I took it to UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program where the professor convinced me to convert it into fiction—a suspense thriller. The professor was a woman, who later helped find a literary agent to represent my novel.
I spent several years in the program with her as my advisor, and the final product after endless revisions and feedback from the professor and other authors in the program was “Running with the Enemy”. It was fiction but true to my experience of war and its horror.
Fast forward to publication and then June 11, 2013 when a reviewer by the name of “S” posted a 2-star review on Amazon—a review I’m actually proud of.
S concluded her review with: “I was sucked in by the nitty gritty feng shui of the book, then repelled by the over use of sexual violence and testosterone dousing. Even though the ending was predictable, I still liked that the good guys won and the bad guys lost. However, the limited roles by the female characters left me feeling that half the story still lies buried and voiceless.”
I’m proud of that 2-star review because the book I wrote was about the war I fought in—not the story S wanted me to write that would have been a lie. In the 1960s, the only American women who served in Vietnam that I knew of were nurses and they did not serve in combat units. There were no women in my battalion. Not one.
What I think S wanted was to see women kicking the shit out of men and beating the men at war. But that wasn’t my Vietnam. Tuyen, the only major woman character in the novel—the others were minor characters—was a half breed, a Eurasian, who had been sexually and physically abused by her half-brother since she had been a young girl.
If you have ever seen the film or the stage play of “Miss Saigon”, you might understand how women are still treated today in Southeast Asia and when that woman was a Eurasian like Tuyen, the treatment was worse, and the term for her was Bụi đời, the “dust of life”.
In fact, “Life was frequently difficult for such Amerasians [and Eurasians]; they existed as pariahs in Vietnamese society. Often, they would be persecuted by the communist government and sometimes even sold into prostitution as children.” [Benge, Michael (22 November 2005). “The Living Hell of Amerasians”. Front Page Magazine]
I think what “S” wanted from me as an author was to write a story that would fit a world she wanted—one that didn’t exist in my world. She wanted a kick-ass female character.
The latest example of this popular political correctness demanding that history and literature be rewritten may be found in the film “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”. Tauriel is a female elf who is a kick ass super warrior. The problem is that in the original Hobbit written by J. R. R. Tolkien, there are no major women characters and another fire-breathing modern day feminist—another S—also wanted the plot of this novel rewritten when made into film.
This revisionist was Nicole Lyn Pesce writing for the New York Daily News who said, “The women’s rights movement has made it to Middle-earth. The first ‘Hobbit’ film was criticized by some—like me—for its testosterone-heavy cast, so director Peter Jackson has brought in a kick-ass chick for the sequel.”
Does this mean we should rewrite history due to a modern, popular, political-correct movement? I don’t think so.
My novel was a man’s story just like “The Hobbit” was written by a man. In fact, you may want to read an essay about how J.R.R. Tolkien’s service in the British Army during World War I may have influenced his fiction. [JRR Tolkien and World War I by Nancy Marie Ott]
If Tolkien were alive today, would modern feminists be criticizing him for not including kick-ass women warriors in his novels, who didn’t exist in his day as they didn’t exist in mine?
I have news for “S”. If she had read my novel to the end, she would have discovered Tuyen kicking some serious male ass in the Golden Triangle near the conclusion of the novel. In that scene, Tuyen is so violent she even shocks the kick-ass recon Marine who loves her. Maybe Tuyen just didn’t kick enough male asses to satisfy S or someone like Nicole Lyn Pesce.
Here’s a bit of advice for today’s modern day feminists. Don’t wish for something you know little to nothing about. Take it from someone who has seen war up close and personal, you really don’t want to go there. If men are willing to go to war and die to protect women from that horror, let them.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.
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Whenever a professional man, Black or White falls, no Black woman is ever behind it but whenever a professional Black man falls, check out who is normally behind it. Always White women.
Interesting opinion. Where’s your proof and how does this fit the topic of political correctness rewriting history?
In fact, I think that when a successful professional black man marries a white woman—and I think that not all successful black men end up with white women—he marries her as a trophy wife after he becomes successful. The white woman had nothing to do with the black man’s success.
While I agree that history shouldn’t be rewritten out of political correctness, the concept of Tauriel isn’t necessarily rewriting history. In the Hobbit, there was little to no detail on any individual wood elves, and even the Elvenking wasn’t named until Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings. The fact that Tolkien himself wrote little about the elves of the Woodland Realm meant that the filmmakers can use their imagination to fill the void. As such I don’t see a problem with a female captain of her kingdom’s military, as it really isn’t rewriting the Hobbit.
What shouldn’t happen is shoving this character into a common stereotypes, such as being involved in a romance for no seeming reason. Neither should this character actually change the overarching plot.
I have no problem with Hollywood adapting films from books and adding new plot threads and even characters because film is a different medium and sometimes this is called for, but when modern political correctness is the reason instead of for plot purposes, I think it’s wrong.
Adding a female character because there is vocal group of feminists demanding that women have more roles that usually go to men is caving in to blackmail.
As for the female wood elf military captain, I actually enjoyed the addition—just not the reasons she was added.
Definitely agree with you here. Some things, i.e. historical films, should not be influenced at all by political correctness.
Yes, but sad to say history is often written by the media; by the victor of a war, or the leaders in power. For instance, China’s history books in the West and in China paint the last Dowager Empress, Cixi, as a ruthless monster, sex addict who had her own son murdered (the truth is her own son died of syphilis because he wasn’t satisfied with several thousand virgins and often slipped out of the Forbidden City to visit a whore house).
Then in the 1970s, Sterling Seagrave proved from primary source material from the reporters own journals that the material used to document this false history was all a fraud. But no one has made any attempt to correct the history books.
Imagine what the history books would say if Japan and/or Germany had won World War II.
To learn the truth sometimes takes centuries until some historian comes along researching a book who finds primary source material that was ignored due to the political correctness of the time and then that author writes a book and sets the record straight.
For instance, in the 19th century the British Empire needed to make China look evil to cover up their own crimes against humanity as they spread their empire around the world through endless wars. And to fund the growth of empire meant the British king/queen needed money. That money came through the sale of opium to the Chinese after the British started two wars in China, the Opium Wars, that forced the Emperor to sign treaties that allowed British merchants the freedom to sell their drugs to the Chinese. The revenue that came from the sale of that Opium was enough to support the British Empires military in war after war after war.