Sunday, January 12, 2014

The real story about "strong female characters"

Okay, I hear this all the time. Young adult writers--and writers in general--should be writing "strong female characters." What does that mean? Seriously. What do people mean when they talk about strong female characters exactly. I get so confused, mostly because I think about a continuum of traits. And they can all be part of a female character that is considered "strong."

To me, there's something dehumanizing about a "strong" female character. It carries the idea of a female who is immune to the idea of love and weakness and failure. It means that she has to be all-sufficient and badass all the time. She must be independent and fierce and everything that you would expect from a male character, but she must be female. To me, a writing a "strong female character" means writing a character that has all these traditionally male characteristics but has to be a woman. I think, personally, that's taking feminism just a little too far.

I saw this thing on Tumblr recently--in fact I see it on my dash pretty often and I reblog it a lot--about writing real women. Real women are weak and hardy. They are strong and fragile. They are self-sufficient and broken. Real women are everything along the continuum. Real women can be desperate for a husband and still be kickass characters.

For a character to be "strong," I think she's got to be real. If that girl could be your best friend, with all her strengths and flaws and things you hate and things you love, then she's a strong female character. But she could be as badass and fiercely independent as Lara Croft, but if she doesn't jump off that page and invite you to the mall, honey that's a weak female character.

Just my two cents...

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Edited by - Stephanie King