Thoughts upon Female Characters

As much as I love feminism and fighting for equal rights, some people take the concept of “independence” too far. Critics are saying the new Jurassic World is sexist because of Claire’s character development throughout the movie. She goes from cold, calculating Claire to caring, reckless Claire. In my review earlier this week, I pointed out that her character was the kind you’d want to see eaten in a Jurassic movie. My opinion completely changed halfway through the film.

Does caring for her nephews make Claire a weak character? Does caring for the death of dinosaurs or people make her a weak character? Does caring for a guy she chose to ignore because of work make her a weak character? The answer is: No, it does not.

People are so focused on females in movies or literature being strong and independent that they forget that females are people, too. They don’t always have to be cold and distant. They can be strong and independent and also have a significant other, a sensitive side, and motherly instincts. The beauty of women is that they have personalities. Go figure, right?

I saw the same problem surrounding books this week. People were making cruel comments about how this or that book featured two main characters (one female and one male) and how the book would end with the women being redeemed by a man’s love–or rescued by him. Yet if this plot was to completely flip and the man would be the one in need of redemption or rescuing, no one would bat an eyelash. It would be acceptable.

People judge females far too harshly in literature and media, and because of that I worry about my own writing. Someone reading the blurb of Sky Knight could make the assumption that Taliah falls into the above mentioned scenario (she doesn’t, if you’re wondering). Yet in the sequel Taliah will find herself in a difficult situation–a situation she can’t get out of without help. Is she now suddenly a weak character because for once in her life she has to depend upon someone else for assistance? Absolutely not, but some will judge your female MC if this happens.

So am I going to rewrite the scene to make Taliah get through the situation on her own? Nope. Scenes like these are what bond characters together and reveal character traits the characters themselves didn’t know they had. And having a character rescued by another character doesn’t make them weak or any less independent. It just shows they’re human and not some robot hybrid.

Some people are easily offended when female and male characters work together to achieve a goal, each relying upon the other for support and strength, but what is equality if it isn’t this?

Happy writing,

Sandra

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One thought on “Thoughts upon Female Characters

  1. That’s one thing I’ve noticed in writing, and that I find incredibly frustrating. It really does feel like female characters have to fit in a tighter ‘box’ than male characters do, and that severely constrains the kinds of characters you can have and the stories you can tell. It’s like you say, if the situation is reversed, no one bats an eye at it. When that happens, we’re dealing with a kind of literary hypocrisy that can be hard to deal with.

    Even worse because, as you said, it means that we actually do the opposite of what the stated goal is. By focusing on the Strong Female Archetype, we’re no longer dealing with unique characters and stories, but rather just archetypes, even stereotypes. Or to put it another way… in the attempt to get more and better female characters, we actually get less and worse. Which is truly unfortunate, because it’s essentially just a new iteration of the tired old social demand for women to behave and be a certain way.

    Haven’t seen Jurassic World yet, planning to on Sunday, but I’ll keep my eyes open for Claire’s development. And thanks for this post, it’s definitely an issue that deserves more attention and discussion.

    Like

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