A while ago (as I was running on the Blogging A-Z hamster wheel and had no spare brain cycles for anything else), I read an amazing blog post that I want to share with you. Here it is, from Sara C. Roethle: A Rebuttal to the Attack on Strong Female Characters.
Sara presents a strong, well-argued case that when we define male dignity as relying solely on protecting women, and therefore see any strong woman who defends herself (or, even worse, defends a man) as robbing men of their dignity, we shortchange both men and women. Yes, she says, it is right that the strong protect the weak, but this doesn’t have to be locked to gender. Male dignity can arise from supporting and nurturing others as well as from protecting others, just as much as female dignity can.
This doesn’t excuse one-dimensional characters who are strong-strong-strong without any complexity or depth (the kind of character sometimes called a Mary Sue). I recently read a story that was likable enough, except for the female lead who was an orphaned waif in Georgian-era London who was tougher, stronger, and more determined (and luckier) than anyone else, who still displayed a heart of gold and unbreakable loyalty to the male lead she just met (earning his love and trust), while never losing sight of her personal dreams, throwing aside her lifelong experience without hesitation to travel through magical doors and fight unstoppable enemies, wisecracking all the while….You get the point. My problem with her wasn’t that she was strong, but that she wasn’t anything else. I would have felt the same about a male character who acted the same way.
Anyway, here’s the link again to Sara’s great blog post, because I know we don’t like to scroll back up. Read, enjoy, and share your thoughts in the comments.