It's a powerful thing, that thing called love. I have seen the remarkable power of women to feel compassion, to love the unlovable, to care for someone else instead of something other than ourselves more than ourselves called sentiment, weak, or derivative in nature. With all due respect, I disagree.
Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time features Meg, the protagonist of her story. A feminist might feel that this story does not measure up. Why? Brilliant scientist mother stays in her lab and at home while her kids go off to rescue their dad. Remarkably, this is one of the best examples I've ever seen of a woman having it all, as they say—family and career—and yet, I have read more than one feminist reviewer dislike that it was Mr. Murry instead of Mrs. Murry who got himself caught up in a mess bigger than he was. Pardon me, but if the woman wants to have it all by the typical definition, she does have to keep la familia1 as well.
Additionally, I've seen the story bashed because Calvin (her future love interest) is so intuitive, Charles Wallace (her younger brother) is an obvious and precocious genius, and her father is so wise and able, while the only part of the story she gets (besides some decent intelligence that she doesn't yet believe in) is the ability to love Charles Wallace.
Whoa. Slow down. What do you mean all she gets? Have you ever tried to love your sibling when they are being a jerk? Have you ever seen your brother go off the deep end and realized you had to be there for them, be the one to pull them back from the brink? Do you have any clue how hard that is? I've been there. For real. It's hard.
Then there's the follow up book, A Wind in the Door. Meg accomplished that task last time, but now she has to understand it, the power of her love, her anger, her hate. Have you ever truly loved your enemy? Someone who has hurt not only you, but somebody else you hold dear. It doesn't really matter in that moment if they have done good things. We blind ourselves to those or wish to. We would rather hate, be angry, hold that grudge. It is beautiful to see the ability to overcome that portrayed as a good thing and as a strength. Meg is no weak female protagonist. She's strong because she can conquer herself and love anyway.
This is strength and power and something amazing regardless of gender, and it matters to me.