The Issue With Strong Female Characters

So… I am reading this book at the moment. It’s a trilogy and I am at the second tome right now. So far, I love it: the storyline, the concept, the characters, the suspense. Just so you know, it is not the first time I read a novel from that author. Back then, the first chapters had me upset and frustrated. Yet, as the story went on and the characters developed, my opinion shifted. In the end, I adored the book. That trilogy, I really like it… except for one thing: the strong female character.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I love her. Honestly, she is the perfect heroine: brave, generous, kind, powerful, smart, bold. You got to know her through her past and present, through her struggles and her accomplishments. As a matter of fact, she is the focus of the book. Which you might not expect from a male author. It’s always easier to write about something you know I imagine. So everything is perfect, right?!

Well, no… Absolutely not!

The problem is not that she is a strong character. Actually it kind of is but more on that later. The problem is that she is the ONLY strong female character, or interesting female character at all. What does the absence of other significant female characters tell us? Women don’t get involved. They are not essential to stories or don’t deserve the same attention and development. I mean, they still male up for 50% of this planet’s population so not an audience to neglect!

Furthermore, let’s be honest, Harry Potter did not do it alone, he had help. Loads of. All heroes get help. Since there are not any other female characters, the only persons our heroine can turn to for help are men. Thus, she will kind of owe her accomplishments to the men who helped her, making men essentials to a woman’s success and stripping it away for her. We need a balance. Indeed, more diverse secondary characters would show that everyone has a part to play, can contribute and gets involved in the victory.

Next thing… readers identify with a novel’s characters. Yet, they might not fully identify to the hero and will find themselves in secondary characters. Having just one interesting woman will limit the possibilities for female readers to identify with the characters, and develop a deeper emotional connection with them. If the only significant female character is strong (and often flawless), what does that mean? That only one type of women can succeed? Is worth writing about? And what if you are not strong? What if you are not bold? If you are not assertive? Or do not have amazing and powerful magic? Can you not be different and be a hero nonetheless?

But most of all… if there is only ONE female protagonist, that means that while many men can make it to the top, only ONE woman will have a piece of the cake. Are very few women worth being heroines? And you also know how it works… the smaller the cake is, the harder the competition is… Here we go with the cliché on women competing with each other all the time. How bad for young girls who are looking for a role model!

Finally, if they is just one woman character… what off female friendship? What off sisterhood? Who do you get advice from? Who do you talk to? What about female solidarity? And what if you are not straight? Not white? Not cisgender? Who do you identify with? Would not these aspects make a story more interesting? Should not books reflect the diversity of our world a bit more?

Despite the lack of significant secondary female characters in the first two books, I am still loving that trilogy. For your info, it is Mistborn from Brandon Sanderson. Turns out, a new addition is making the second half of the second tome interesting and I am waiting to see (and hoping) that she will be more than just a love interest.

If you are looking for books with diverse female characters, I suggest you check out:
A Court Of Thorn And Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Quest of Ewilan by Pierre Bottero
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz

Shop the look:
Blazer – New Look
Dress – Boohoo
Wedges – New Look
Straw bag – Topshop
Watch – ADEXE London (15% off with CORINNE15)
Shades – Boohoo

I hope I was able to express myself clearly and you understand where I cam coming from. Am I the only one who gets a bit upset when reading a book with only one female character? What is your take on the topic? What do you think of strong female characters? Don’t you think we need books with more diversity in their characters?

Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.

See you soon,
Love,
Corinne

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28 Comments

  1. April 26, 2018 / 9:59 am

    Love this post!
    I think there is a lot wrong with Strong Female Characters and that you’ve hit the nail on the head. So many books have one token “strong” female character and have her surrounded by bloody men and owing everything to them. No ta.
    I’m personally trying to reclaim the term as someone multi-layered, who is strong and different ways and not afraid to be caring or vulnerable (as I think that takes a lot more strength than just physical/magic power).
    Female friendships and female power dynamics are my *favourite*. I’d recommend Six of Crows, Sky in the Deep and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

  2. April 26, 2018 / 10:31 am

    I totally get you. I hate when movies and books only have one strong female character and then the rest is dominated by men. It’s not really a good thing to have because readers and watchers want to relate but with that they really can’t.
    http://sugarcoatedbears.blogspot.com/

  3. April 26, 2018 / 12:48 pm

    I will check out the books you mentioned! I always love finding strong female characters.

    One of my favorites is Wonder Woman. She just rocks.

  4. April 26, 2018 / 2:22 pm

    It is hard to find a strong female character, which seems to tick all the right boxes, there is often something just niggling and annoying going on, no matter how much you love the other things about them.

  5. The Mami Cam
    April 26, 2018 / 4:19 pm

    We need more of these books! I want my daughter to grow with the idea of a strong women.. not the princess idea..

  6. Minakshi Bajpai
    April 27, 2018 / 8:20 am

    I will check out the books you mentioned. I love those movies based on strong woman

  7. April 27, 2018 / 10:20 am

    Great book recommendations. I feel like because we tend to say that women are discriminated we just put them in books and movies in a way to shut people up. I don’t remember what movie was, but it had only female characters, well, that for me is also discrimination. I like strong female characters, but it’s great when there is more than just one. At least a female friend she should have.

  8. April 27, 2018 / 4:41 pm

    This is one of the many reasons why I love the entire Harry Potter series, Hermione is a strong female character and while she isn’t the main character of the story, she is still widely important in almost everything that is done. We need more books like this.

  9. April 27, 2018 / 7:14 pm

    This is really interesting because I love strong female characters but never noticed the issues about the particular ones. Thanks for the book suggestions.

  10. April 27, 2018 / 7:17 pm

    You look amazing in these photos, I really want to get myself this dress (:

    I absolutely agree when it comes tot strong female leads, I struggle to find books which have more diversity in them.

    I will definitely check out the books you recommended! (I have such a problem with the amount I read, I’m always up for something new!)

    Alys / alysgeorge.blogspot.co.uk

  11. April 27, 2018 / 7:38 pm

    This was really interesting to read, I’ve never read any of those books you listed so I’m going to have to check them out. It’s empowering to read about strong women in books, I definitely think there should be more than one in every story. Great post Corinne and your dress is gorgeous! 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  12. April 28, 2018 / 2:45 am

    I have never had an issue with the amount of strong female characters, as long as there IS one!

  13. April 28, 2018 / 2:50 am

    Agree with you. I will check out those books to. You look stunning in the pics. I love your bag.

  14. April 28, 2018 / 5:47 am

    I agree that we need a balance! You’re right about needing more strong female characters. It’s great that there’s one but how about her empowering other women to be just as strong or stronger? I totally agree with you about this! Thanks for bringing this point up.

    PS. Love your outfit! Your wedges are gorgeous.

    exquisitely.me

  15. April 28, 2018 / 3:39 pm

    I will have to check out some of the other books you recommended here! I agree that it would be nice to see multiple strong females in more books.

  16. April 28, 2018 / 7:32 pm

    Love this look so much! I am completely with you for more strong female leads!

  17. April 28, 2018 / 8:10 pm

    I mostly watch movies and shows, and I am all for strong female characters/roles. I would recommend any of the books you listed. The tides are changing where there’s more than one main female character in movies, and the most recent Marvel movies have them!

  18. April 29, 2018 / 4:15 pm

    I love a Court of Thorns and Roses! Also your purse is amazing!!!!

  19. Kristy Bullard
    April 29, 2018 / 7:08 pm

    First, I love your outfit, especially the wedges from New Look! I would like for my daughter to read about strong female characters and not the princesses who need a man to “save” and “rescue” them. The world doesn’t work like that any more.

  20. April 29, 2018 / 10:39 pm

    We need more strong and powerful women around. Thanks for sharing where outfit is from, I’m loving it all.

  21. April 30, 2018 / 2:32 am

    Even today, many authors are not able to capture the essence of strong female character and tend to be stereotypical. I would love to check out Melissa De La Cruz’s work 🙂

  22. Pooja Kawatra
    April 30, 2018 / 3:44 am

    This seems like a great read and well i always feel showing one character too strong make the story very one sided but would love to read it.

  23. Blair villanueva
    April 30, 2018 / 3:47 am

    I love reading books with strong female character, but giving too much emphasis on that character makes me feel boring. I admit, that strong women are cool but not too much. We need to give light to other strong characters (in my opinion).
    Hey I like your pink top!

  24. April 30, 2018 / 9:29 pm

    I must admit I too get tired of reading books with only one strong female lead, I love the idea on common front amongst women working together not just one strong lead who still runs to the men {not women}for support, though nothing wrong with it we just need more balance

  25. May 3, 2018 / 11:26 pm

    i like this title The Issue With Strong Female Characters Thanks for sharing where outfit is from, I’m loving it all.

  26. May 21, 2018 / 5:16 pm

    I do too feel like there should be diversity and balance.
    Doing only one strong character is a little bit unrealistic. There is no such thing. I think a good story has many layers. Even the timid, and shy girl can be the unlikely hero that we may need in the end. Because she makes us believe in ourselves. I feel like there should be more depth and more thinking. So what i take from your post is that whilst the author may have done a good novel, he could have paid more attention to the creation of his characters.
    I also think we need to review what the take is on a strong female lead. Strenght doesn’t always mean that you save the day. Strenght is in personality as well. Such as the ability to ask for help when needed and showing emotions. Because in a world that rather not see us cry i think people who show their real selves are the strong ones.
    Loved your post corinne!
    love,

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