10/30/17

Why I Hate Strong Female Characters

      
          Why do I dislike strong female characters?

            Well, I don’t necessarily hate them.
            But I hate the fact that the writers don’t understand that there are different kinds of strengths.

            There are more powers and strengths than just the whole “girl kicks butt whilst wearing high heels” stereotype.  
            The whole “we need stronger female leads” movement has created dozens upon dozens of the exact same girl in every YA book.
            Same angsty dull personality, and of course, she’s so not like the other girls. She hates everything feminine, because makeup and personal hygiene will give you cancer and make you look like all the other weak females, duh.
            The difference in every book? She looks slightly different and her name has been changed.

            I hate strong female characters, because instead of building women up it tears us down. Instead of giving credit to our normal personality traits and strengths, it gives credit to the brawny tomboys, and only them instead.
            NEWSFLASH: Most girls AREN’T as strong as guys, ESPECIALLY IN HIGH HEELS. Sorry, YA authors!
            Kuddos to the ones who are, but most of us aren’t.

            It’s okay to have girl characters cry, it’s okay to have girl characters like girly things, it’s okay to have girl characters who want to be pretty. It’s okay to have girl characters need a guy to help her sometimes.
             Nia Wingfeather is one of the strongest female characters I've ever read. She is a single mom, who has lost almost everything but her father and her three children.
              No, she does not lead a revolution or fight a bunch of armed men with nothing but her heels, instead she loves her children and teaches them grace, dignity, and reassures them of who they are.
               She makes countless sacrifices to save and protect the ones she loves, and she doesn't need her fists.
             THIS^. Is an example of a real woman in YA.
 
            Not all girls are body builders.
            Not all girls are sarcastic and mean 24/7.
            Not all girls are angst filled creatures, who hate the happy airhead wearing frills.
 
            What is wrong about the happy airhead wearing frills, anyway? I’d like to read about her instead for once.

            There are so many different kinds of girls with a huge range of different strengths and weaknesses, physically and emotionally.
            Why just write about the same one over and over? 
 
What do you think about females in YA?
 
 
Happy Writing,

 

73 comments:

  1. Uh, yes! I am so tired of the 'quote on quote' strong female characters out there! I want people to see the TRUE definition of STRONG! It's not the annoying sarcasm or never needing help from a "sexist" male that makes you strong! People need to learn that!

    You should try Storming by K.M. Weiland if you haven't read it, I love Jael, the female MC. She is a great female character, I love her balance of capability and sweetness.

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    1. I am too, it's annoying after a while! They do, honestly.

      I haven't read that, but I will now. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

      Delete
    2. Yesss, I love Storming so much.

      Delete
    3. You bet, girl! It's a great book!

      Delete
    4. I guess I'll add this to my TBR list! :D

      Delete
  2. Gray! I agree!! The "tomboy" approach really doesn't work. It just puts that charcter like they want to be a boy, not a girl. This is very well written, Gray!

    (btw, sorry I haven't commented here in awhile! The header is awesome!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, MC!

      I haven't been the best on commenting on your blog either! XP
      Thank you!!!

      Delete
  3. Great post, Gray! I agree with you - this world doesn't need more 'strong female characters' in fiction. We need female characters who are willing to be real. Characters who aren't always strong enough, because none of us is perfect.

    -Madeline
    towerofjoy.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you!

      I 100% agree with you, oh my goodness, we really do need actual empathy in YA.

      Delete
  4. Yes to this post! I don't want "strong female characters". I want realistic female characters; ones who are all strong in different ways. <3

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  5. This is so true! As girls, all of us are strong in our own way, and I would love to see that reflected in YA.

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    1. I would love to see it too! Goodness knows we need it.

      Delete
  6. You're right! Every girl is different and unique and special, and have their own way of being strong. The girls in most YA books are so...so...perfect. They don't have any flaws. They have a sarcastic answer to anything, can do anything theirselves, and don't need help from men. Actually, I like girls who have flaws better than girls who are totally perfect. They are so much more real! I mean, everyone has got flaws! This was great, you wrote it very well!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes. We have WAY too many Mary Sues in YA.

      Thank you, Ruth!

      Delete
  7. PREACH IT!!! As women, we are all varied and different. Some of us will be bodybuilders. Some of us will be afraid to bulk up that way. A lot of us will cry because girls cry more than guys. We'll never be as strong as guys. Why? BECAUSE THAT'S HOW GOD MADE US!!

    This is the truth. Girls are weaker than guys. Now, obviously, a girl who works out might be stronger than a guy who doesn't, but I'm speaking in generalities. This post is great. Thank you!!

    Keep speaking the truth!

    ~Ivie
    iviewrites.blogspot.com
    <3

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    1. We are! And that is so true, why be ashamed of it?

      Thanks, Ivie!!!

      Delete
  8. I'm 100% with you, Gray!! I sick and tired of this trope - I want to read more about the easily scared, kinda fragile female protagonists, tbh. Because then I could relate to them more! :P

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    1. Same here, it would be nice to have some more realistic female for sure.

      Delete
  9. Ugh, the "strong female" stereotype is really getting old. So. Sick. Of. It. What I love reading about is protagonists that I can relate to more - and I honestly cannot relate to strong female characters at all. Because guess what? I'm not drop-dead gorgeous, I'm not insanely strong, and I need help with things from my brother and dad. I WANT A CHARACTER THAT I CAN RELATE TO, NOT A STRONG PERFECT GORGEOUS STEREOTYPE.

    Sorry for the long comment. This is one of the things that really drives me nuts. XP

    -Zane
    simpleimpossibilities.com

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    1. It IS. I'm not drop dead gorgeous or super strong either, and it would be nice to have more relatable characters.

      Don't be sorry for the long comment! I 1000% agree with you, rock on!

      Delete
  10. Well, this is an interesting post. Maybe the pendulum has swung to one side and will hover back in the middle again.

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    1. It is strange how a while back women were the ones who were constantly weak and tied to railroad tracks waiting for a hero to save them, and now they're always the hero.

      I hope we find a middle ground soon!

      Delete
  11. Yes to this post a million times, I need many types of strong women and to my ideal that doesn't always mean physical strength.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, emotional, spiritual, and mental strengths are a thing too.

      Delete
  12. Yess everything you said is so true! It's rather insulting to read about female characters who seem to think that feminine things make you weak. And you're right - lately it seems like all of these YA female characters are the same.

    Nia Wingfeather is seriously one of my all time favorite fictional characters. She's definitely one of the strongest ones I've ever come across, and she shows that strength by putting her children first and remaining relatively calm in the face of all the crazy stuff that goes on. I wasn't so happy when I saw you used her as an example - she's amazing!!

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    1. It is pretty annoying and insulting to read that. And they do seem to becoming clones in every book, take Katniss Everdeen and compare to other girls and WHOA, they're ALL Katniss!

      YES. NIA IS AMAZING. I love her and the whole saga a lot. XD

      Delete
  13. I understand your point of you and I agree with you when it comes that strong girl stereotype. Girls can be super feminine and enjoy makeup and cute things and still be strong. There are multiple types of strong, not just physical strong and sometimes this is the only type of strong that is portrayed on those books. However, I don't think it's all bad. Some of these characters to inspire young girls to accept themselves and strive to be better - like Katniss. But I understand what you're saying and I think other types of strong women should be mentioned too! Great post! :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. True. I'm not saying that Katniss is bad or anything, I think she is a good role model on her own, but the problem is that every other girl character is exactly like her now.

      I think other types should be shown too. Thanks!

      Delete
  14. I love Nia. (Leeli gets a little annoying, though, tbh...too perfect??) But I'm so tired of these kick-butt females. I don't mind one every now and then, but not in book after book after movie after movie...where's someone I can actually relate to? Because I can't take out the bad guys with a powerful kick or translate computer code and all that jazz. But I can encourage and support and get things done in my own way. :)

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    1. I love her too! I felt the same about Leeli in the last book, she's okay, but a flaw or two here and there wouldn't have hurt.

      I agree! Being a girl who encourages and supports people sounds way better than the girl who controls it all even though there's no logical way how she would.

      Delete
    2. Ugh, I felt that way about Leeli too. Not because she was too perfect, but because everyone trusted her in the middle of the war to make her own decisions. She's nine years old, for crying out loud!

      Delete
  15. I love this post! Characters are so interesting.
    My idea of a 'strong girl character' is not necessarily strong physically, but BRAVELY.
    Lots of people can be brave, even girls. If she has endurance, even when people EXPECT her to be a weak female, that is when she is strong.
    Femininity has essentially nothing to do with it.
    Love this subject!
    :)
    -Amaris

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    1. Thanks! Characters are super interesting, I love them.

      Yes, that is so true--bravery comes in different forms not just physical strength.

      Delete
  16. a) I am fairly fit + practiced in many martial arts
    b) put me in high heels and I may as well be tied to a chair, I'm so helpless. XD

    Anyway. I totally agree with this, because being a fairly physically strong girl in real life, it really doesn't show things realistically.

    I also love the example of Nia Wingfeather--she is such a strong character. And she's strong in the way that really matters. On the inside. Physical strength is nothing. Anyone can train their body to be strong. Being strong enough to love someone, to sacrifice, to serve--that's much harder.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I can't even walk straight in heels, so ack! I'm out. XD

      Nia is such an amazing character. <3

      Delete
  17. Oh yes.....we so need more variety in women characters. At least in popular literature.

    Nobody really knows the power that women have until it's not present. Sure, it's entertaining to watch a women be sweet and sassy and then flatten a jerk, but what about keeping a house going? I'm sure that when the housekeeper isn't functioning, things fall apart pretty quickly (ever thought about an angry housekeeper as a foil for a villain???)

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. WE DO! That is honestly so true.

      And an angry housekeeper with a rolling pin is terrifying and unstoppable, villains and thugs beware.

      Delete
  18. Absolutely! It's as if in order to prove girls are as good as guys... we try to be better. I love books where the guy saves the day, where the girl tells the guy he's wonderful. Where she's sweet and kind and loving, and brave, too. I like it to be real, and unselfish ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are as good as guys, but in different ways!

      Yes, I love those kind of stories.

      Delete
  19. The thing about this "strong" female stereotype is that they usually aren't all the strong or brave, it is more bravado and brashness and brassiness. And that confusion infuriates me period. Also, there is QUIET strength. And ironically I think that it is degrading to make it appear that we HAVE to be like guys to be brave. Um, what?! We can be like ourselves and be brave. I think they want showy characters, that is the real reason for these stereotypes, as if it only matters what you do if everyone can (metaphorically) see and hear you. These book (and movie, ahem some Disney characters) are LOUD. And shallow.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Umm, amen?! You just put all of my thoughts and feelings into one comment, which is seriously amazing, thank you, Livia.

      Girls are brave in our own unique way, we shouldn't have to be like guys in fiction in order to earn respect, you are so right!

      Delete
  20. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

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    1. You're welcome! Thank YOU for reading! :)

      Delete
  21. I think the big problem is they're writing STRONG females that are characters instead of Strong Characters that are female. And they're strength is their only trait. Even if you just made her like Astronomy, she would be a much more interesting character.

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    1. THAT. IS. EXACTLY. IT.

      You just wrote that perfectly in three sentences... and I totally agree with you and I like how you put it; "STRONG females that are characters instead of Strong Characters that are female." That is exactly the problem, thank you!

      Delete
  22. Preach it. Thank you, Gray. Thank you for being brace enough and willing to write this. :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. It really is kind of crazy to think that authors could dream up literally ANYTHING in their books, but that a lot of them stick to the same tired characters. I don't know why this is? I love how you said you want to read about the so-called "airhead" character for once. Gosh, I agree! I want to explore new perspectives, not read the same thing over and over. Maybe showing the weaker side of this super strong female character could be a way to diversify her. No one's that strong all the time, ya know?

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    1. It is, isn't it? It makes no sense.

      We do need new perspectives! There's no way someone's that strong all the time.

      Delete
  24. I think why people are starting to write about unrealistic strong characters is to be someone their not,for ex: if you believe you are really wimpy you write about a really string character whim you wish to be.. good topic Gray and great job!
    Ry

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    1. Maybe that's it, along with the pressure from feminists and society.

      Thanks, Ry!

      Delete
  25. I sort of half-agree with what you say here. Personally, I relate more to the tough, sarcastic girl characters who don't like girly things and aren't very emotional, because that's what I'm like as a person myself - I struggle to relate to girly girls who are into beauty and fashion and *gasp!* actually show their emotions! Also I really hate gender norms that say girls and boys have to behave in different ways, so in my writing I tend to put girls who have character traits usually associated with boys, and vice-versa, as a sort of rebellion against that.
    But I totally 100% agree with you that there are different kinds of strengths. Just because you're kind and empathise with others doesn't make you weak or silly - it just makes you strong in other ways! In my opinion this doesn't just apply to female characters, it applies to males as well. You can be strong-willed but also care about the people around you, it's not such a crazy concept. And while I might not like feminine stuff, I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with other girls liking it. We all have our likes and dislikes, and unique personalities! Everyone should be able to be who they are without fear of being judged.
    In a lot of my stories I like to put both a snappy, sarcastic, physically strong tomboy and a sweet, gentle, patient character, to make them contrast against each other, and also to make the point that neither of those personalities is better than the other - they both have their strengths and weaknesses.
    Wow this has gotten more philosophical than I intended it to lol. I'm gonna stop or I'll be rambling here until tomorrow. XD I'm slightly interested to know what you think about strong male characters - do you think the same as with female ones?
    :)

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    1. I'm not saying that all "tough" girls need to be abolished from literature, but we do need more diversity. Not all girls are super tough sarcastic creatures all the time. It's sad to see only one type shown in books.
      I like stories with characters that contrast, I think it's a fun way to show that we're all different and that's okay!

      I think that guys in books and just social media in general have been dumbed down a lot, which saddens me. I also think that most guys are natural born leaders, but that lots of women won't let them become said leaders. Guys have been being put down a lot and excluded recently, which is just wrong.
      And yes, there are many types of guys just as their are many types of girls, and showing guys to only be manly mans all the time isn't right either. We're all different, and we're all growing to become who we're suppose to be.

      Delete
    2. Can I just jump in here with- I'd like to see more male characters with emotions too? I mean, I agree with your post - "female strength" doesn't mean "women beat up men while in high heels" - but guys need the non-physical strengths too. I don't know - patience? that's something that's not really considered 'manly', but it's a good thing.

      And guys have feelings - not the same way as girls, sure, and they probably don't talk about feelings very much; but that just makes it more special when they trust someone enough to open up, in my opinion.

      (This comment is rambly and confusing, sorry :P)

      Delete
    3. Yes, that is so true.

      They do have feelings, but since they're are so many female authors we don't understand as well as we should. I need to interview a guy on here sometime... :/

      Delete
  26. YES YES YES! A thousand times YES! Couldn't agree more and it's one reason I want my girl characters diverse and not all tomboy...thank you for this!

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    1. You're welcome, and thank you! It's great to see someone else wanting diversity in this way.

      Delete
  27. AGREED. I think it's just as sexist to say the only way women can be strong is to be like men as it is to say that men are better than women.

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  28. I agree, Gray! I love Nia Wingfeather; she's so great. XD I definitely think people need to write about different types of girls. :-D

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    1. Nia is wonderful, I love her so much!

      They definitely do.

      Delete
  29. That was deep! I agree that there should be more variety in their personalities. It would be like if everyone was the same person, and where's the fun in that? :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I didn't mean it to be, but thanks!

      We totally need more variety--diversity is what makes things fun.

      Delete
  30. I so agree with this! I've almost completely stopped reading dystopian novels because of the unemotional beat-up-the-bad-guy girl MC's. They're just so bland! But I do think that authors (especially female authors for some unknown reason) overdo it when they write the girly girl authors. I think there's a lack of realistic balance in ALL characters and I just can't completely relate to them anymore. I'd like to see a character who loves cute clothes and still plays airsoft with her bothers out in the woods. :P
    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I'm on the brink of quitting dystopian myself, but I keep hoping I'll come across something original.

      They do, come to think of it. This is why we need more teenage authors, we're actually living the reality so many older authors fail to write!

      And same, that would be amazing and I could totally relate! :P

      Thanks!!

      Delete
  31. this is awesome and needed to be said. Everytime I read someone call a biatchy sarcastic, mean girl a strong character, I want to chuck the book at them. Strong characters especially females I feel are the ones that still stand strong after what life threw at them, even if they do cry, even if they do break down before they pick themselves up again - it's all good, I appreciate that as long as they have the will

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    1. Thanks, Lily!

      Chucking a book at them is something I want to do quite often.

      I agree, strength is in the ability to pick yourself back up.

      Delete
  32. Great post! I completely agree. I've been trying to create a girl who is tough and not afraid to get dirty or stand up for others, but likes to look nice and feminine and doesn't at all mind the thought of a dashing and handsome man saving her. She also is not loud and boisterous girl, but is instead modest in her behavior.

    I get tired of people making a big deal out of guys believing girls to be weak and therefore holding the door to a buidling open for them and opening the car door and helping them carry things, along with doing other acts of service. But that is how gentleman ought to act; its how knights were to taught to treat a lady. It shows a woman's/girl's great worth when men treat them with respect and honor. It doesn't make them out to be weak.
    Though of course, women are not as strong as men in some resepcts. The men were built to protect and fight, women were not. But they were built to give birth to children and take of their family and house; and child-birth alone takes great strength.
    And strength of character is a whole other thing. Crying does not show a weakness of character, even in men. Real men DO cry. Which means that real women do, too. (unless I suppose they have a personality that doesn't cry easily)

    But before I ramble off unto eternity, I'll stop and say thank you for this post. it was very good. :)
    ~Kendra Lynne

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! It is really hard to find that balance, and I don't think anyone is actually perfectly balanced in real life either!

      Same. I actually /like/ and /appreciate/ it when guys help me or hold open doors for me--it's just good manners, I would do the same for them.

      I like ramblings! (It's all I have here...) XD

      Delete
  33. Love this post! ;) (And I absolutely agree about Nia from the Wingfeather Saga and Jael from Storming. Great examples!)

    ReplyDelete

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