Sunday, February 18, 2007
This weekend was awesome. Really. I met Heleen van Royen. Now for those of you who don’t know who she is, let me tell you a little about her. Heleen is what I would call a woman with balls. I’m not going to try to package this post up nicely and attempt to be too politically correct, because it’s about Heleen, and that’s definitely not what she’s about. Her novels appeal to the modern woman who is not afraid and who goes after what she wants. She writes openly, talks about sex in ways that make the average person blush…or gasp, and she tells it like it is. She is what some may call a “bitch” (especially after the notorious political scandal) and that’s why I love her. Still, I see a softness in her. I think she’s one of those few who has used her life experiences to her advantage. I admire that.
The first time I read one of her books, I kept thinking how this could never be as popular anywhere else as it was in The Netherlands. Freedom here takes on a whole new dimension. The country knows little censorship and I’m all for that. After all, people can choose what they want to read and what they don’t. Heleen writes about the fantasies and fears most women have but are afraid to admit. Now please, don’t go confusing her work with chick lit, because it’s far from that. This is modern Dutch literature at its best. Her work encourages women to think…and to laugh. They are like a kick in the behind and they scream, “LOOSEN UP!”. It’s not the stuff you get by the check-out aisle at the supermarket. These books will be exemplary for the spirit of the enlightened Dutch woman at the beginning of the 21st century, just like Vondel was exemplary for the spirit of the Dutch renaissance during the 17th century.
Yesterday we went to the city for a walk and dropped into our local bookstore and there she was. It came as a total surprise. I knew she was promoting her new book which she wrote in cooperation with lingerie designer, Marlies Dekkers, but I didn’t know she’d be there that day. I quickly bought a copy and got in line, a little nervous. I wanted to tell her that I admired her and her work and that as a matter of fact I had done a paper on her a few semesters back at university. Well, all I could muster was a few words and a “thank you”. She seemed so down-to-earth and so open. Just like I imagined her. I started leafing through her book immediately and I’ll be honest, I blushed. Normally speaking, I am not at all shy and demure when it comes to her work. I understand it and know it’s not just about sex. However, if you’d take one look at this book your eyebrows would go up, just like mine did. The title of the book is “Stout: Over flirten, success, macht, lingerie en erotiek”, or “Naughty: About flirting, success, power, lingerie and eroticism”. Aside from the pictures and the title, and let’s just say the pictures are art and leave it at that, the book is again, not just about sex. It is an invitation for women to push all boundaries in life and get what they want. It includes interviews with powerful Dutch women who have made of their life exactly what they wanted by knowing no inhibitions. It is about the real emancipation of women. I’ve read the first few chapters and I’m already captivated. It’s a deal, Heleen. I vow to be “naughty”.