{DISCUSSION} ‘Strong’ Female Characters

 Do we really want ‘strong’ female characters?

Since the dawn of story-telling, women have been the weaker of the two sexes. Whether physically weak or mentally weak, they were not considered at the same level as men. Women were the ones who stayed home, took care of the children, didn’t get education, weren’t allowed to handle money or difficult decisions, and were trusted with nothing, even being faithful.

From there, literature allowed them to evolve into the damsel-in-distress, the object of a man’s love. They were motivation for a hero. But they were still weak. They still needed to be protected and it’s only in the last decade where ‘strong’ female characters have become a trademark in literature. And the reading world went ballistic!

Readers were so excited to see female heroines. They were happy to see the girl not needing a man to save her because she could save herself. They loved this female character who was strong, independent, mentally-secure, and could kick butt like there was no tomorrow, but now… Now, we’ve seen the light. Now, we realize that there’s something wrong with these ‘strong’ females we’ve waited so long for: they’re not realistic.

Fighting Flaws

Tell me, how many women do you meet on the street who learned how to fight with a sword in a week? How many of those women learned how to fight with their fists in a couple days? How many of those women are perfectly calm and centered every second of the day, even when their loved ones are in danger? 0? Really? That’s what I thought.

The ‘strong’ female characters we see in literature nowadays, the ones that young readers are supposed to look up to, are not realistic. For one their miraculous transformations into fighters are not possible. Real humans can’t gain physical strength (from nothing) in a matter of days or even a month. It can take half a year or more to learn to fight and protect oneself and have the muscle mass to support it (especially coming from the scrawny physicality that many of them start at.) Some people train all their lives to be good at the skills some of these characters gain in a matter of weeks-months. But that’s not the only flaw.

One-Minded

One of the biggest problems with these ‘strong’ female characters is that the authors are trading other human emotions for strength. How many ‘strong’ female characters seem to lack appropriate emotions? Yes, they’re fighting for their loved ones. It’s their motivation and their purpose, but that’s it. That’s the only thing they think about! Come on!

Tell me of a single male hero who only thinks about saving the day. Go on. Try me! I can’t think of any. However, I can think of at least a dozen male characters who think about saving the day, and about their family, and about how they’re going to explain something tomorrow, and how cute that girl is over there. Men have this broad array of things they’re allowed to think about, but women? Nope! If she’s strong, she can’t think about men… ever! She can’t think about explaining to her boss tomorrow. She can’t think about that exam next week. She can’t be physically attracted to men (or even other women if that’s how she swings). ‘Strong’ female characters are basically not humans because they have no reaction to the people around them in regards to sexual urges.

Hormones

And don’t go telling me that’s not appropriate for young adult literature. Don’t go telling me that there are more ‘pressing’ matters to attend to. Don’t tell me that as a ‘teenager’ she shouldn’t be thinking about those things, because NEWS FLASH: teenagers think about sex and whom they’re attracted to probably ten times MORE than adults because it’s so new to them. They’re just reaching the peak of maturity, have raging hormones, and are starting to notice all the attractiveness (or not) around them, but they are thinking about it and teenage girls are no different. Yet, we act like they can’t think about a man/woman as being attractive. They can’t think about sex or sexual urges or anything even remotely close to that realm. Garbage! Absolute, non-realistic garbage!

Ah! There’s that word again: realism. And that’s what I’m driving at. These ‘strong’ female characters that authors right about to help empower young girls are not realistic and, as a result, are backfiring. Girls are not able to identify with these girls who are saving the world. They have nothing in common with them. I mean, what 16-year-old girl do you know who watched her family die and the next day bounces back like a freakin’ super ball and is all ‘alright. Let’s go save the world! Alone. Because I can’t rely on anyone and I can do this all by myself.’

Finding a Balance

Alright, that was a two part: having no emotions and not needing any help. We’ll stick to the first one: no emotions. Teenagers have tons of emotions and they are constantly bouncing all over the place because (most of them) don’t have stability yet. They’re still discovering their world and the characters in these books have twelve times as many issues as normal girls do, but they’re completely stable 24/7. I don’t believe it. No, I don’t want to read about them crying the whole book, but there needs to be a realistic reaction to traumatic events, which actually leads into number two.

If they are feeling broken-hearted, hurt, or just weak, it’s okay to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with needing a friend or two or six to help them get through the fight or even the next day. Yet, for some reason, they’re expected to do it all by themselves. They’re expected to lead the rebellion, lead the war, kill the dictator, and never get an ounce of help along the way. Psh! Unless you’re superman/supergirl that’s just not gonna happen. Normal people need help and it’s actually a ‘strong’ trait to recognize and accept that you do. Refusing to ask for help is narcissistic, ignorant, and weak. Aka the exact opposite of what writers are working for.

What it comes down to is finding that happy medium between weak and strong for female characters and we need to stop wanting ‘strong’ female characters. Rather, we need realistic female characters. I want the girl who falls into her friend’s arms because her mother just died, gains support from that friend, and joins forces with them to fix the problem. Perhaps she even finds a cute guy on the way and takes a while to realize she’s in love with him rather than suddenly being all insta-lovey. Realism is a small target what with the stereotypes and the past representations, but that’s what we need. Realistic female characters are the ones that readers will love!

Leave me your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to hear from you! ^.^


And check out my discussion from last week:
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33 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} ‘Strong’ Female Characters

  1. Very interesting article. I believe I have many more years of experiences than all of you I see here, with of course Melanie herself. Still I don’t know if I can really give an appropriate explanation to all what has been written in the article or by the others comments. According some of the views, I agree that some of it depends on how each person thinks and looks at it. Yes the general idea is that the male is strong and the woman is weak who has to stay at home to do the house work. This was how life began. As the man didn’t go to office, in the past. They had to go out to hunt and kill to bring the food home. And do all the hard work like bringing fire wood and even water from very far away places. Not having proper homes the women had to stay at home to look after the children, they did not have cars to go around !!!
    With all the modern developments all these has turned upside down. Some are still strong men and some are still weak women that doesn’t fit in with the modern society. As now the woman also need to be strong and the man needs to do some of the work the women did like sharing the house work and looking after the kids. Some men are house husbands now. Then are they looked upon as weak ?
    There are those who is realistic and those that are not. Its very interesting as I go through articles of many young bloggers and they are really in to the present moment. They are open and they are not bothered about weak or the strong. Some of the girls itself who have gone through hardships in life, are very strong. I myself as a young girl I was physically and mentally strong. No I didn’t learn to fight with the fist or with a sword Lol 🙂 That was not necessary at that time. But later in life I did go through quite a battle and although I did become weak both mentally and physically, I have now bounced back fully to my normal self, with the added bonus of years of experiences and all the knowledge through it. There will be the difference of opinions always. Some refuse to see women as strong where as some see them as equal and even stronger than some. If you see the Olympic games ect so many women do things that men cannot do !!!
    The summary I can give is that although taken separately as men and women, we are all human beings. Why the difference is for survival of the human race. And we all need each other for that. All become weak and face difficulties and happen to need another. No one is able to survive alone. If everyone looked at the bigger picture as one human race, life and the world will be a very much better place. Don’t you think so ? Love and Light from me 🙂 ❤

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    1. Hi! Thank you for joining the discussion! ^.^

      I don’t think men are weak if they stay home. That, in fact, can be a sign of strength because they have the knowledge and caring personality to take care of the children. They also show a willingness to share the burden of the house with their wife. Yet, many people still see it as a weakness. They think the man is mentally weak when he is a ‘stay-at-home dad’ because he’s not making the money for the house, he’s not ‘in control’ of his wife because he lets her be the bread winner and work. It’s an old ideology and I’m happy that it’s changing. I think it’s great when there are stay-at-home dads because sometimes that is just how life works out. Though, really, when it comes down to it, it’s not a matter of who stays at home and who works. It’s about compromise and sharing the burden of the household.

      I can’t say whether I have been tested, personally. I live in a society that offers many freedoms and equalities. I can’t imagine life for women in other countries and the hardships they go through. So, when compared to them, I can’t consider myself tested. I also wouldn’t say that I’m strong when compared to them because they have gone through such difficult experiences, ones I know nothing about, that I haven’t been tested in the same ways they have. They could be stronger than me because they have endured hardships, but people may not recognize their strength, yet see mine. As we discussed, it has a lot to do with perspective. :/ I just hope that some day we can find a balance where men and women aren’t judged by mental or physical strength, but by who they are as human beings.

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      1. You are welcome. Maybe I didn’t write exactly to the point, as my way of writing is different. I am from Sri Lanka. And have seen a bit around meaning I have lived in a African country in Nigeria too for some years. Now I am in Australia and I have been working as tutor in English. My topics are different as well as I write very simple English as there are many, its their second language !!!
        Strong comes in many different ways, even with all the modern things in the developed countries there are many who have to fight out for many things. Yes the undeveloped countries the challenges are more. Your article is good what I meant is I am much older than all of you Lol. And I just wanted to comment on how I thought best. Best of Luck with all your writings and life 🙂 ❤

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        1. Haha! Thank you for your wonderful thoughts, especially since you are older than most of us. You have a different viewpoint and have grown up in a different time. It’s wonderful to hear your point of view. Thank you again! ^.^

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  2. Fundamentally agree with you about this post. A huge problem I have with unrealistic strong female characters- it’s all very well and good to want to create something different, but they have to make sense as people. I’m glad I read this post as well, because I think it was necessary to get more from your argument in your double standards post. I think the major issue in both of these cases (having double standards or trying to break those standards) is laziness. People think that if they can just plonk characters into a ready made mould- aka casting female characters as either Katniss Everdeen or Bella Swan- then people will instantly find these characters relatable. But that isn’t how it works, cos it’s actually more important to give a character depth and to blur the lines slightly to make them more believable. I think the main issue is relying too much on stereotypes as a basis to create a character instead of trying to essentially create a life-like individual that thinks for themselves (I mean writer’s basically create people- and people are not straight forward box ticking exercises)

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    1. Ah. Your last line: ‘writers basically create people’ is actually the reason this doesn’t work because the reason these stereotypes happen is the writers inability to create people. They simply take a framework they’ve seen in other stories and adjust the face, the clothes, the world. That’s it. No personality traits change. THAT’S the problem. It is lazy. Oh, I don’t doubt that one bit. They don’t take the time to develop their own characters and rely on pre-made ones, which aren’t even developed either. So it becomes a cycle or rather ‘recycle’. :p (bad joke. sorry.)

      P.s. I am SO happy you came back to read this post after reading this week’s discussion! That makes me really happy. ^.^

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      1. Yes that’s exactly the issue. I definitely see it that way. That’s the problem with people who are, dare I say it, bad writers. They just don’t have the skill to create believable people and think that lazily plonking some stereotypes on a page will get the job done. :/ Of course it doesn’t work that way! haha made me laugh! No problem- I felt it would help me see the argument in full- and I’m glad I checked it out!

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  3. To be honest, I felt that some of this could be applied to a man. There’s plenty of male heroes that fit what you’re talking about – that fight and are strong within a matter of days, or a week. And, in all honesty, with a strict regime, one can achieve that in a month (a lot of actors do so, for particular roles, and don’t always have a large amount of time to do so). But I’ve read plenty of novels where the heroine is strong in so many ways, and her focus in further than ‘saving the day’. For example, Tally, in Uglies, focuses on far more. She’s a reluctant hero. She doesn’t want to do what she’s doing, and only becomes a hero toward the end of the novel. She’s preoccupied with her own selfish thoughts, men, and her friends. In Before I Fall, the heroine is a bitch. She’s a horrible person, out for her own personal gain – until the end, where she sacrifices everything for someone else.
    I think you’ve made some truly excellent points – which some novels address wonderfully, having that ‘flawed’, more realistic, hero. I guess it also depends on the genre, as for some people, in their situations, they have to reorder their priorities. I just it’s like the war in Syria: yes, your family might be murdered, and you will certainly mourn their loss. But if you need to leave to avoid the same fate, would you crumple or try and move on? Sometimes, I think, the force that it takes someone to move on like that is stronger, and more powerful, than them falling. (Obviously, again, that depends on the setting. If you’re in some suburbia world and your parents die, it would be strange for there to be no reaction. And, like you said, unrelatable.)
    I feel like my comment may be confusing so I’ll try and summarise: I think you raise some excellent points. I really do. However, I think some of these things can be applied to men, too, – until Shrek, we had a very stereotypical hero, and I think that’s important to acknowledge. But a lot of these women I can and do relate to. I like the strong woman as a character, and whilst I don’t need her to be cutting everyone down, and I accept her flaws and all (in fact, I prefer her that way), it beats someone like Bella Swan (was that her name? The Twilight chick?) for me. I hate that pathetic, damsel-in-distress I-can’t-live-without-my-man shit. I feel like it’s a massive disservice, and insult, to women – and leaves little to aspire to.

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    1. Ah! That is an interesting take, Carla. Thank you for bringing up men because it’s true that men are also stereotyped into a cookie cutter frame and that needs to change, too. (Hopefully as readers and writers focus on female characters, they will also start to branch out into male characters, as well, because everything kind of needs a revamp at the moment.)

      Now, I would like to ask you something in regards to physical strength. I do believe that if put on a strict workout regimen and a strict diet, one could attain physical strength (to a certain degree based on their original body type.) However, in many of the stories, these characters gain not only physical strength, but combat skills, firearm skills, knife throwing skills, gosh knows what else. The timeline to learn these fighting styles is a much longer path than just a month. You may learn basic capabilities, but if you’re also gaining body strength in that time, you’re spending a good portion of the beginning on just the basics and being able to handle the weapon. Does this make sense? (Note: I believe many actors and actresses still get stunt doubles for backflips, and crazy stunts. They often aren’t shooting or throwing actual weapons. So, while the analogy works for physical strength, I’m not sure how well it stands to combat skills and the like. Though, perhaps you know more than I on the subject?)

      Oh! I agree with you wholeheartedly! We need strong women and no more of the damsel-in-distress such as in Twilight. I’m just saying that now that we have our strong heroines/strong MCs, we need to… flesh them out a little more, give them a little more definition. It’s as if we were so focused on making ‘strong’ females that we kind of ignored everything else in order to get that right. Now, is the time to find the middle ground between ‘overly strong and having no emotions’ and ‘physically weak damsel-in-distress’.

      Again, men do fall well within this realm, too, but that should be a topic for another day, yes? :p (Because that is an ENTIRE discussion all on its own.)

      P.s. Thank you for joining the discussion! I hope you enjoyed it and offer your point of view again! I really like the ideas you bring to the table!

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      1. I really want to reply, but I have to get ready and go out! So I just wanted to let you know that I can’t wait to read this properly and will reply later on!! (Not ignoring you! And excited to be following you!)

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      2. I agree – the men definitely need to have their own ‘category’! I think that would also make for an excellent post. Like, for example, I loved John McLaine for the first Die Hard. He was, like you called it, a reluctant hero. (However, now he’s very stereotypical, and that bothers me. I liked the original John McLaine.)

        And I so agree – any hero (male or female) that’s perfect at anything drives me insane. I think a perfect example of awesomeness was Sigourney Weaver from Alien and Aliens. She was terrified, but she did what was right regardless. In the second movie, she had PTSD, and part of that PTSD leads her to save Newt, because she imagines her as her daughter, but she fights through and battles everything. Her PTSD doesn’t disappear at all, she just tries to her best. She’s afraid, vulnerable, weak; but strong, brave, and fierce all at the same time. I really like that type of hero; I feel strongly that THAT’S the type of character you can relate most to.
        Really great post, btw! I loved it 🙂 I can’t wait for others 🙂 And I’m so glad you liked my thoughts, I was worried I was coming on too strong!

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        1. I would love to do a discussion on male characters. However, I lack the source material (aka I haven’t read enough books) to offer an informed discussion. Perhaps in the future (because this topic isn’t going away soon, I fear.)
          P.s. John McClane changed based on his prior experience as the hero. That’s why I fear many characters fall into the ‘pit’ of stereotypes as I will now refer to it. :p

          That is a great example (that I haven’t seen personally), but that’s my point. The middle ground of having weaknesses and not necessarily overcoming them, but accepting them and working around/with them. That’s a better hero than the person who knows what they’re doing already. Honestly, there’s more tension then. More unexpected possibilities for the characters and the plots.

          And thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying it and you could never come on too strong! I LOVE hearing everyone’s viewpoints, especially when they differ. That’s the point of discussion. I hope you come back for more! This month’s discussions are all going to be about characters. ^.^

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  4. I think strong female character is a very broad definition. Just like strong male character. It cannot be contained to a single series of traits. It really depends on the reader’s personal opinion. And while I do agree to some extent with you, I do believe there are many ways to describe someone as strong, whether physically and mentally, and many ways to achieve that strength without being considered unrealistic. I do think male protagonists are less scrutinized on this aspect than female ones. No one ever questions their strength, whereas everyone is always trying to dissect girls’.

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    1. Oh my goodness, yes, but I think that goes back to centuries of social structure where a man was the strong protector and the woman was his charge. Sadly, we’re still trying to break out of that mold. Though, on the other side of that discussion, weak male characters are often highly scrutinized because they don’t fit the ideal picture of a male character, especially in the ‘hero universe’ like Superman and Batman.

      I also thank you for bringing up the concept of ‘strong’ being a matter of perspective. After all, not every has the same level of intellect, the same body structure for physical strength. So, strong is really a relative word and has no clear definition, which is yet another reason why I believe it is an inappropriate term for the female characters we’re looking for. Would you agree or disagree?

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      1. I disagree that’s inappropriate, because there does seem to be a more or less accepted idea of strength when it comes to female protagonists. And also, of weakness. For instance, any girl that is independent, brave, sticks up for herself, has defined ideals and morals, protects others, is strong-willed, etc., can be considered strong by the majority of people. Whereas if she’s whiny, dependent on others, a coward, can’t defend herself, is gullible and easily influenced by others, can be considered weak. What may vary is the intensity of those traits and how predominant they are.
        Sometimes I agree that they seem too forced and/or make the character too perfect to be considered believable. Unless there are some elements to the story that make that exaggeration possible/plausible (such as magic), the personality aspects are still not ruled by them and are thus exempt from such influence, so I can only count the physical ones.
        It all depends on balance – a girl can be a mix of both strength and weakness and still be considered a strong character. I think we’re all done with Mary Sues by now, and they are simply not engaging enough to even be considered. The point is, there has to be something about her that makes her stand out, have an impact. And that’s too personal to measure. So I don’t think we should stop calling protagonists “strong”; we do need, however, to stop believing everyone’s opinion of that character’s strength and simply judge for ourselves.
        I have a major issue with how “strong” traits are sometimes disguised or improperly played out. Being bossy, mean, emotionless, rebellious, selfish, loud, obnoxious, athletic, or promiscuous is not synonymous with strong. And neither are their opposites. Also, a character may believe herself strong, and everyone else in the book too. Even the author. But if you actually get deep into it and look harder, you realize that’s not the case at all. They’re trying to sell out an image that is not reality, but that many people still believe in. Again, it goes back to personal opinion but I believe there is a basic foundation we all can agree on. So why the false propaganda? To sell more? Why the inability to write a good character and put your money where your mouth is? At least try to make them interesting, if not believable. Not just another recycled protagonist.
        I’m sorry for such a lost reply but I feel like I’ve now explained myself better 🙂 Do you agree with any of the above?

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        1. Also, to clarify the main point of this article, I still want strong female characters. I do. I think they’re important as role models, whether they’re relatable/achievable or not, and they move the story along. But what I strive for the most are characters I end up loving. And some of them I would definitely not consider “strong” or even “weak”. It’s not a requirement, and it really depends on the type of narrative, but it sure helps warming up to a character (in my personal opinion).

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          1. Hmm. It almost sounds like you’re asking for a sub-genre within YA for the older readers who are empowered and maybe have a less glorified idea of the world? (Not to sound like a major downer or anything. Just a realist.)

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              1. Haha! Being picky is not a bad thing and I think a lot of it has to do with reading more. I feel the more we read, the more particular we become. Not everything amazes us as anymore because we’ve seen it half a dozen times already. We want something different.

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        2. Haha! I love how into this you got and I apologize for my delay. (Moving.)

          I understand your meaning much better with this clarification and I think that makes sense. There are certain traits that are classified as ‘strong’ and others that are ‘weak’. However, authors at the moment dem to be picking all strong traits. There is no balance. While an imbalance may be realistic, everyone still has some ‘weak’ traits. It’s part of being human. Having no flaws and no weaknesses makes for a dull, unbelievable story.

          I think society needed these overly strong female characters for a while though because we’d has such weak characters in the past. We were testing both sides of the scale and extremes don’t work. Now that we know that, we can start playing around with traits to find the appropriate balance. Or a variety of balances for the variety of readers out there, because as clearly decided upon in this discussion: relatable characters are different for everyone.

          I’m just hoping we start working toward the balance soon. If not, too many authors will stick to the tried-and-true method of overly strong females because somehow they work for many readers. (To be honest, I’m thinking younger readers at this point. It seems the older readers are the ones calling it into question.)

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          1. Definitely! Younger readers do tend to be highly impressionable and don’t have yet a critical mind to judge a book’s content… Usually. So yeah maybe middle school books will keep this type of characters but I don’t think YA would benefit from them anymore. Especially because, since they’re catching the reader at a transition in life, their role is not to solely entertain anymore, but also to guide and teach in some ways. To relate. To be authentic.
            At least that’s how I see it 🙂

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            1. I like how you see it. While books are meant to be an escape and for fun, they should also be ways to prepare readers for what lies ahead. And as much as we’d love to always live in a state of innocent bliss, sometimes reality needs to be taught as well. It may seem harsh, but I think it could help better prepare teens for what lies ahead in their lives.

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  5. Why can’t strong women (physically, mentally, and emotionally) be realistic? You actually can gain strength in a month if you’re training properly and pushing yourself. And not all women are emotional. Some are, some aren’t, and some keep it to themselves and it may not seem like they are. None of those are bad things

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    1. I’m not saying that can’t. I’m simply saying it’s not the ‘average’ and not all young readers are capable of these fantastic feats that the characters are accomplishing. I understand the need to want to inspire young women, but is setting goals the reader believes unrealistic for themselves going to make them inspired? I mean, I can’t even count the number of young readers who want a character to be more like themselves, someone they can relate to. Perhaps I didn’t quite make this point clear above. What are your thoughts on more relatable characters?

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      1. I disagree that being mentally, physically and emotionally strong isn’t ‘average’ and it would actually piss me off if I was younger and someone tried to tell me otherwise. Most people don’t expect the hero of a story to be ‘average’ and if thats the case then why is this only applied to female characters? And if you’re reading something like a dystopia novel, no one is expecting to have save the world or start a revolution but that doesn’t mean that young women won’t be able to relate to characters like Katniss Everdeen jut because they are doing those things. I don’t think that characters are unrelatable just because they’re the hero, in fact I think that goes against what most authors are trying to accomplish

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        1. Why can’t the heroine/hero be average? Why do they have to be something extraordinary? One thing that Katniss Everdeen does teach us is that anyone can be a hero. Granted, she had natural talents, advanced skills, and mild to moderate athleticism from the beginning. However, Katniss seems to lack femininity. Same thing could be said for Tris Prior in ‘Divergent’. I’m not saying a hero is unrelatable. It has nothing to do with ‘heroism’ really, but rather the traits that readers and writers believe are required to make a hero, which unfortunately at this time fall well within the realm of ‘masculinity.’ No doubt because pop culture has leaned towards male heroes for centuries (but thankfully this is changing.)

          That being said, I agree with you in the sense that we need to find a level playing field between male and female characters because there are definitely imbalances as you’ve pointed out. However, what I’m saying is that the heroines in question (not all, but many), seem to give up emotional diversity for physical strength. Not all heroines. Heavens no. There are likely plenty of examples that debunk this, but there are still quite a few that have kept with this and I can’t for the life of me understand why. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I’m hoping for a broader variety of female ‘heroes’, not the same cookie cutter image we’ve been seeing in literature as of late.

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          1. I didn’t say they couldn’t be average. Even if they are considered average the reader still expects them to DO something great even if that thing is small. Not all girls are extremely feminine so while they may be unrelatable for some it will be for others. I don’t think Tris lacked femininity but the way she was brought up in Abnegation meant that she was taught to be plain and fade into the background, she couldn’t even look in the mirror. Yes, there are plenty of characters that debunk that statement but saying that ‘strong’ female characters (in any sense of the word) is not what we want is misleading

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            1. Ah. You have a point and I thank you so very much for bringing it to the table. This has been quite an interesting conversation and I’m happy you’re passionate about it. ^.^

              I have come to realize during this discussion with you and other commenters that perhaps my terminology is incorrect. We want ‘strong’ female characters, but we want them to also have depth and diversity. As another commenter said ‘strong’ is a matter of perspective. If that is the case, then what exactly are we looking for? Can the character we want be summed up in a single word? I had believed ‘realistic’ would be more appropriate, but perhaps that too does not do justice for the type of characters we want to read about. What do you think? Is there a single word or phrase? Or are we all just looking for something a little different and therefore can never truly agree on a definition?

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              1. I agree that strong means could mean something different for everyone if it isn’t clarified as physical or emotional, etc. However, I don’t think that anyone would say that they don’t want a female character to be strong regardless of how its meant. I don’t think realistic is the right word either because it implies that women aren’t incapable of doing the great things that heroes do. Relatable could work but what you and a character have in common depends on the individual person so that’s not for one person to determine

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                1. Agree! That is why we have these discussions. ^.^ I hadn’t thought about ‘realistic’ as stating that the current characters were unattainable. However, I do believe one does not become proficient in swordsmanship in a month, but other parts are definitely attainable if people work hard enough.

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