Saturday, 7 April 2012

Girls Need Role Models

Greetings from Iceland! I am currently on a brief holiday, and typing this on an Icelandic-language keyboard.

One of the double-edged parts of the realisation that male characters dominated childrens´ and YA adventure literature is that authors decided to create a plethora of ´strong´ female characters. This is certainly a positive thing-- it´s very affirming to see someone from your identity group, be that ethnic, ability, gender or whatever being awesome. Fiction and imagination are such a big part of childhood and development that making sure kids can see characters who are ´like them´ is pretty important.
On the other hand, this spawned a ton of Minority Sues, characters whose major conflict was overcoming straw sexists by being outrageously good at everything, with the occasional smattering of interview flaws-- ´too loyal´or ´too nice´.  Flawed female characters (or female characters who don´t conform perfectly to someone´s ideas about feminist role models) get a lot of crap, which in turn discourages authors from writing them.
As hard as it is to get away from the feeling that in writing a lead female character you are Representing Women Everywhere Forever, it´s essential for creating female characters who act like humans. We don´t expect our real-life role models to be perfect. We want humans to relate to. The same is true of fictional characters. Having an aspirational, intensely human character who the reader can relate to is much better than sending the message that your choices are Superwoman or loser.

3 comments:

  1. When I think about books from my childhood, many of the lead characters are female. Mainly because I loved horse stories and we all know girls love horses! Plus my sister had the Trixie Belden books and I fell in love with them. So...I guess I was lucky so many of the books I read had female characters. Except Tarzan the Apeman of course.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amen to each and all of your words!

    We want authentic, "normal" heroines... not space creatures and aliens unless ofcourse you are writing science fiction!

    I am also a member of Team Tina with the #AtoZchallenge... I am trying to get around to everyone to meet & greet.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday~

    Julie Jordan Scott
    twitter: @juliejordanscot
    G is for Gabriela Mistral
    #atozchallenge

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amen to each and all of your words!

    We want authentic, "normal" heroines... not space creatures and aliens unless ofcourse you are writing science fiction!

    I am also a member of Team Tina with the #AtoZchallenge... I am trying to get around to everyone to meet & greet.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday~

    Julie Jordan Scott
    twitter: @juliejordanscot
    G is for Gabriela Mistral
    #atozchallenge

    ReplyDelete

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xx SB