I love it when the WordPress Daily Prompt is something I am already thinking about! The challenge today is: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a member of the opposite sex for a day? What do you think life would be like?
I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between Portia Adams and her partner, Constable Brian Dawes. The differences in their personalities aside, what benefits and issues does Portia face as a woman in 1930s London.
Imagining her as a man is an interesting exercise in this case. For example, the fact that she is anti-social and doesn’t really care about her manner of dress or place in society would probably be more acceptable if she were a male of her income and stature. Of course, her choice of profession would be more acceptable, I’d guess that 99% of detectives at this time were male.
In addition, many of the obstacles she faces chasing down her cases would not be obstacles as a man, from the physical restraints to the assumptions made about her ‘place’ in the world. BUT being a woman also means that Portia is often under-estimated, and is able to gain the upper hand simply through surprise. It also allows her access to people who might not naturally trust a man of her background. Finally, I think being a woman of her demonstrated intelligence (and I say demonstrated because there are many many intelligent women of course, but she has had the opportunity to publicly display her own prowess) sets her apart even more so than if she were a man amongst many other men all of whom were encouraged to flourish in her chosen field.
So that’s my take, being a male detective in 1930s London as Brian Dawes is lucky enough to be is all well and good, but Portia, she’s a class all to her own, and that’s what makes her a memorable character.