Female Characters and Feminism

First off, I want to make it clear that I am a feminist. And no, that doesn’t mean that I hate men or that I want to remove all men from positions of power and replace them with women. It means I believe in equality. For everyone. I believe everyone, regardless of gender, should have the same rights and privileges, and that the only way for a society to truly function successfully is for this to be the rule, not the exception. It seems odd that I feel the need to explain this, but the term “feminist” has gotten a bad rap and its original meaning has been misconstrued by those who feel threatened by its implications. So there you go. 

Now, what I wanted to discuss is how feminism relates to female characters, particularly in Young Adult literature, or YA. There has been a surge of awesome female characters lately with the likes of Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, Karou, and Alina Starkov leading the way. And that’s just to name a few. These characters are independent and strong and brave. What I would like to point out is that even with all of their strengths, they also have moments of weakness that in no way negate those strengths. I think this is important to note because it makes these characters three dimensional and engaging. What readers (yes, of both genders) have been craving for a long time is female characters that are real. Because real women are flawed and messed up in the same way that real men are flawed and messed up. But they are also strong and brave and it seems that these characters reflect that. Now, we are still a ways from complete gender equality and these characters have faced some backlash, even from those who claim to be feminists. There was an excellent post on tumblr about this about a month ago. But it is heartening to know that the ranks of the strong female protagonist are continuing to grow and that older heroes such as Tamora Pierce’s Alana and Daine have gained such kickass company. 

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