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
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,