I thought I would do something a little different for this week’s Friday Favourites, I’m not talking about a genre, or an author, or a series, or a particular book this week, instead I’ve chosen a bookish topic, something that I like to see in books to discuss. I was inspired to do this post by a post the Feministas did on their blog yesterday actually (if you haven’t checked it out then do, it’s a new blog discussing feminism). They were talking about Joss Whedon, and how he writes these great, strong female characters for his TV shows and they showed a clip of a speech he made about equality, where he basically said that he writes strong female characters (amongst many other reasons) because people still ask him why he writes strong female characters and I really liked that response, the fact that people still ask why strong female characters are needed, is exactly why they are needed.
I feel like there’s been kind of an upsurge in these strong women characters over the past few years, probably in part due to the success of books such as The Hunger Games which feature strong female protagonists. Now it seems like everywhere you look you can find books with strong female characters. Some people might be getting tired of it, after all when you read books with the same type of lead character over and over again, it is likely you will get bored of reading that type of personality, but personally, I am not. I love reading about strong women in books, there’s nothing I despise more than when the lead female protagonist in a book is whiny, weak and obsessing over some guy (or two guys as the case seems to be in most YA nowadays). Why you ask? Because as a girl I want to see these characters. I want to see women that I aspire to be like, women who are strong, confident, independent, smart and know their own minds. Women that I can hopefully recognize myself in.
One of the reasons I loved Harry Potter so much growing up was because there were so many female characters that I loved and admired who had all these wonderful traits, particularly Hermione, who I always wanted to be like and identified very strongly with. It’s important to have these females in books, we need to show young girls that they can be strong, confident, independent, smart, all these wonderful things, through these characters, so that they understand that they are allowed to have opinions and it’s okay to speak out and share their opinions, it’s okay to let their voices be heard. Personally, I like to see books where the girls are the ones who are kicking butt, who says that the guys should get to have all the fun? The damsel in distress trope is old and tired now, I like to see the damsel taking action!
These women have their own distinct personalities and they are not defined by the men in their lives, which I think is a very important message to send out to young girls. We need characters like Hermione to counteract messages sent by protagonists like Bella Swan, that you should have little faith in your own abilities and should always rely on your boyfriend to save you, if all female characters were like that and there were no characters like Hermione to look up to, then female readers would not be getting very positive messages about their own self-worth at all, hence why strong female characters are so vitally important. We need female characters who are defined by their personality, not their looks or relationships with men because that sends a positive message to women that they need not be defined by these things either.
It’s important to show fictional portrayals of what women are really capable of and this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be physically strong, mentally strong and emotionally strong women are just as important to see (particularly the emotionally strong ones as I feel we as women get a bad rep for being overemotional, which isn’t always true), we need to see a wide variety of strong female characters, not just ones that are able to kick butt, so that all women can find a female character to connect with and aspire to be like.
A strong female character doesn’t have to be emotionless, she doesn’t have to be flawless and she doesn’t have to be strong all the time, in fact a strong female character with flaws is the best type of character (I feel) & it is not the fact that she doesn’t have weaknesses or that she is not emotional (heck Aelin (Celeana) from the Throne of Glass series is one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever come across and she spent most of Heir of Fire completely broken), it is the way that she deals with these weaknesses and emotions that make a strong female character just that.
So I say, keep up the good work with all these awesome female characters that are coming out of books nowadays. We need these strong female role models, we need characters that we can connect to and aspire to be like. In the words of Joss Whedon, those who ask why strong female characters are still needed show exactly why, strong female characters are still needed because people still ask that question.
So that’s my two cents on why I like strong women in my books. Do you like strong female characters? If you don’t then why not? Do you feel the ‘strong female character’ trope is getting tired? Please, let me know what you think of this topic in the comments. I’d love to hear what you guys have to say.
I will be back with another Friday Favourites next week, and I will have another Sidekick Showcase Saturday for you tomorrow (hopefully, I’m leaving to go to a wedding today, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to write the post and schedule it to be published tomorrow before I leave, if I can’t then the post may be a little late (as in on Sunday!).