Strong Female Characters | The Truth


Everyone. EVERYONE. is going on about strong female characters in fiction.  Dude.  Should we have them?  Shouldn't we have them?  If not - why even read this?  If so - then they should be like THIS and they should be like THAT, and they shouldn't be like THIS (or, at least, only in moderation), and THAT is overdone and unnecessary - STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS GET A LOT OF PRESS.  Mostly people are genuinely in favour of the strong female character, a lot of people struggle with the balance between the strong female characters and in the inevitable male characters (who should also be strong and not milquetoast, please).

I'm not here with the answer to that balance.  Personally, I really love strong female characters (oh hey, hashtag MY NOVEL PLENILUNE), but we're forgetting one teensy-weensy but ever so crucial little tiny detail.

WE'RE ALL STRONG IN SOME WAY

STOP THE PRESSES.  True beans, folks!  Are you surviving?  Are you alive?  Are you pulling through?  Do you wake up each day and keep going?  Do you not murder annoying coworkers?  Do you smile cheerfully at the irrational clients?  Do you wash your laundry?  Do you take your dirty dishes to the sink/dishwasher/actually get them clean again in some way?  I've got news for you.

YOU ARE STRONG

Life. is. rough. okay?  Whether you're living in middle class America where the socio-economic dance is some bizarre footwork, or ethnically tense Europe, or poverty-stricken Third World countries - YOU ARE STRONG.  You are alive.  You get up each day.  You work.  You put your life in some kind of order.  You are strong.  You are amazing.  You could give up.  You could descend into a morass of self-inflicted depression (I have post-partum, folks; I get to talk about depression), you could just live a life that's hollow and dark and terrible because you're too tired and depressed to get up and change your situation and make the best of it.  NO.  YOU ARE STRONG.

So YO all you writing bloggers grappling with the topic of the strong female character and what she looks like?  She's gonna look like she's surviving.  She's gonna look like she's going from day to day with purpose.  She will look tired.  She will look worn.  She will depend on others (delegating is a strength - trust me), but she will get things done.  She will meet her obligations.  She will live.

IF THAT ISN'T GRIT, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS.

image via pinterest. thanks, pinterest.

15 ripostes:

  1. Coincidentally, I was thinking last night about writing a post on strong female characters, but this just says everything wonderfully. So thank you.

    I'm getting tired of everybody shrieking about strong females (or diversity, or tolerance, or bullying issues, or ANY of those tired old issues). Is it not obvious? Do we have to highlight all these issues all the time? Can't our characters be strong in their own ways, 'diverse' or not diverse in their own ways, etc? Can't we just write good books without wondering what the million minority groups are going to think?

    Pardon the rant. You hit on something I've been stewing over for a good long while! Excellently worded post, Jenny! :)

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    1. "Can't our characters be strong in their own ways, 'diverse' or not diverse in their own ways, etc? Can't we just write good books without wondering what the million minority groups are going to think?"

      I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE.

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  2. Thank you so much for this post! There is so much truth here. A female character doesn't have to carry a sword to be a strong character (although, swords are rather awesome!). Sometimes life is just hard, and living is what makes you strong.

    Love this post!

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    1. Let's be honest here. I have STRUGGLED with wanting to be strong and feeling that I fall short. I have a toddler - I've been pregnant, I've given birth, I've raised a baby AND dealt with post-partum depression. I'VE BEEN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL. Learning that I //am// strong, in my way, in my sphere, that I am a remarkable woman just for living my life, it makes a huge difference to see that truth. So this is me, reminding us all: we're strong!

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  3. YES! (in a tone of exasperation and relief)

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  4. YES. I haven't been following this discussion much at all beyond reading and loving the "Why we should jettison the Strong Female Character" article and I don't know if you read it, but its main point was pretty close to what you're saying here: a concern that "strong" female characters whose strength is basically physical combat does the real-world strengths of real women a great disservice.

    Which, you know, I loved what you did with Margaret in PLENILUNE (and also, THANK YOU times a billion for making Dammerung strong to match her). And the female lead of my current WIP is in fact an action heroine too, so I'm not opposed to action heroines in principle. But, I feel most people do tend to overlook that strength is needed in EVERY circumstance of life. An unbelievable action heroine like I must admit I found Rey to be is no less annoying to me than a wet sock heroine from a Victorian novel who can't even jab a kidnapper in the eye.

    I have more thoughts, but maybe I'd better write my own post. Thanks for this, Jenny, it's very thought-provoking.

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    1. I feel like authors who only have a "strong" female character and leave the man hanging are missing a masterful punch to their writing which would take their story through the roof. I mean, "Plenilune" with a strong Margaret but no strong shoulder-to-shoulder fellow? That would be a bust. That would be a horrible story. Ugh. I think I just threw up in my mouth.

      (May or may not have an author's crush on Dammerung, here. Just sayin'.)

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  5. Did I not comment?! WHAT.

    Well, here's a few words to say, "Hey! I appreciated this post!" We so often forget that strength is a beautifully multi-faceted concept. We're all strong in some way—you've said it well.

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    1. Okay. But. You were one of maybe two people who taught me this about myself. So this post should really be dedicated to you. So...there.

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  6. YES! I LOVE THIS! My take on the SFC debate is "how about a girl who's got a brain, and always speaks her mind?" (Spot that reference.) Because I'm kind of sick of people saying "Celaena is really sassy and rude and good with knives and sometimes kills people in a really immoral fashion, WHAT A STRONG WOMAN!" Not that I don't like Celaena (I do in fact quite love her), but, actually just because she's a good fighter doesn't mean she always makes good choices. So I'd rather have more moral heroines, please? But yes, I love this! Female characters don't need to be The Chosen One with a sword and a prophecy to be awesome. They just need to live their lives!

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