Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thoughts for Thursday: Female Characters

Thoughts for Thursday is a discussion post mainly about book related things. It isn't every week, but we try to do it as often as possible.


Most Young Adult books have a female protagonist, but how many of those books have a heroine worth reading about? Honestly, not many in my opinion. I have a very specific idea of what makes a good heroine and you're all probably thinking that I'm going to say that the best are the badass ones that don't need anyone to save them. While I do love these characters, I find that a lot of the time they fall flat in another area.

A lot of the time I see people praising the strong female characters and bashing the ones that show any sort of weakness. But I don't think that a female character needs to be badass or strong to be a good character. There are plenty of female characters that aren't like Celaena from Throne of Glass and they are still good characters. Do you really only want to read about women that could kill a man? After awhile wouldn't that get a little boring? I'm not saying don't write those characters. I love them, but I also love heroines that show weakness and emotion. 

On the flip side, I find it very irritating when a female character is reduced to one thing like I believe Natasha Romanoff was in the latest Avengers movie. I loved Black Widow in the previous movies, but her character seemed so off in the new movie and it was really disappointing. Her character served the purpose of being a love interest and when her tragic back story was revealed it was used to further a connection between her and her love interest.

I feel like a female character shouldn't be valued or defined by a specific characteristic because that isn't realistic. They should have depth and a wide range of what kind of character they are, rather than just defined as strong or weak.


This might sound rather boring but I yet again agree with Erika here. I think that the YA genre has gotten swamped with "badass" "feminist" characters that aren't all what they appear to be. For example, the bestselling series at the moment are The Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, The Mortal Instruments, and The Maze Runner. What do they all have in common? The "uniquely strong female who surprises the male with how unfeminine they are and ends up having a romantic relationship with said male". 

Not only do I need diversity, I need pop culture to accept masculine and feminine features as equal. I need female characters who aren't put down for being flawed. I need a well-written book that isn't all about the girl finding romance. I need female characters who aren't bashed for the same characteristics men are praised for. A novel is not the place for a shallow character who can't decide which boy she should date (what makes it worse is that my description can be about several different popular books in the YA genre). The Young Adult book target audience shouldn't look at these  female characters and think that they are perfect role models and that they need to be like them. As Erika said, having specific characteristics isn't realistic. Being labeled so easily shouldn't be what's imprinted on a young girl/boy's mind. I would say the Percy Jackson and the Olympians/Heroes of Olympus does an 'alright' job with female diversity. I also think the new Ms. Marvel comics have great potential (I've only read the first issue as of now). I think it shows just what a sorry state the genre is in that I can't think of any more right now off the top of my head.

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