I recently read an interesting article (http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters) about the double standard set for female characters in literature and media. I find it rather disturbing that we have to characterize female roles as ‘strong’, as if it weren’t inherently implied like with men. I won’t use this blog as a soapbox for a feminist rant; I simply want to raise awareness for the way that female characters tend to fall into one of two categories: the damsel in distress, or the token team member who can keep up with the boys, yet plays no major part in the story. In some cases, the women who are supposed to be ‘strong’ are so violent, they could be considered abusive. All for the sake of establishing that they can ‘keep up with the boys’, that they don’t need to be rescued.
I hate this type of character the same way I hate the stereotypical goofy sidekick or the sensitive male hero. Like the article says, you can’t fit any character into a simple box and expect them to fit comfortably.
One of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale, often tweets about the growing trend of male protagonists. Men, especially young boys, are less likely to read a book with a female main character, while girls have no preference. But there is no rule that says books about girls are for girls only, simply society saying so. Instead, we should encourage boys to read books about girls to better understand the people who make up half of the world.
I tried not to make this a rant, but it’s something that truly bothers me. Instead of making our female characters strong, we writers need to focus on making them real. Human beings are complex creatures and the characters we write should reflect that.
Until next time fellow wonderers!