Beyond the Book | Badass Female Leads Deserve Equal Respect as Males

Hey, everyone!

In my weekly/monthly discussion post, Beyond the Book, I like to address issues that not everyone will talk about. Or sometimes I just discuss random book stuff. You never know with me.

As you can tell by the title, I may step on some toes. I’m tackling this topic. Why? Lately, I’ve seen a lot of hate for badass female leads facing so much negative backlash. No, I don’t see this post as a feminist slant. The journalism student in me will always see both sides to a problem. It’s more of the double-standard I see in fandoms or on social media platforms. So here are some issues I can’t stand in the book community:

 

Apparently, a female main character can’t have a big ego

I see this problem all the time. She can’t be as ruthless as her male counterpart. A good example is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius and Kaz Brekker. Much of the SOC fandom adores this PTSD-ridden, complex, and cunning character. I know I do. He reminds me of my mental illnesses and the struggles I constantly face because of my trauma. However, I see other readers call Aelin a “bitch.” Isn’t she similar to Kaz? Can she not have the same ego, if not more, than he does? Clearly, I’m not so sure anymore.

 

If a man offers to help her through her pain, then she isn’t seen as strong

The first step I learned about healing is to let people in, let them help you, allow them to pick you up when you can’t possibly drag your broken soul off the floor. So if a female character can’t heal entirely without receiving help, then why is it okay to criticize her when someone (particularly a man) offers that help? Don’t we adore (and often rave about) when we see another male in a different series get the same support? Is that woman supposed to suffer alone and heal on her own? No. We put too much pressure on the image of an “independent” woman. Yes, being independent means that you should depend on your own. However, it doesn’t mean total isolation though.

 

If you support a broken, badass male character, then support her

Pretty self-explanatory, right? Nope. Or I never would have listed it in my post. You may not like how she heals. But you don’t tear down her journey.

 

She can’t cope the same way as a male or another well-loved female character

You all know I wasn’t a huge fan of A Court of Frost and Starlight. However, the scenes where Nesta shows how she’s coping with her fears, her past, and her trauma spoke to me. I slowly grew to like her as a character. I don’t like her lack of sisterly love for Feyre at the beginning. But her mental illness is shining through her tough exterior. And yet, here I am complaining about the fandom completely disregarding her illness. So people support Feyre, not Nesta.

Side Note: Yes, that may be because people hate Nesta and her past with Feyre. But the issue still stands.

 

I hope, in time, the book community will give more respect to these beautiful and utterly strong women. We can’t tear them down. We need to support them, no matter what.

 

So do you see what I’ve seen? What are your thoughts on the topic? Do you think the book community will change its view of female characters? What needs to be changed?

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21 thoughts on “Beyond the Book | Badass Female Leads Deserve Equal Respect as Males

  1. It’s a good post, thought provoking. I love strong female characters but it’s funny because I think as readers we’re tougher on females or less able to forgive them for things that we would forgive from a male character.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for bringing that thought up! I’ve been wanting to talk about it for awhile now.

      If we crave to see more strong female characters, so why do we criticize them? I think we put too much pressure on those characters and authors that we refuse to see we’re tearing down something we’ve been crying out for.

      Like

  2. Preach it girl! This is so dang true and I’m so sick of society’s double standards. I agree 100% on the Aelin/Kaz drama – why can’t a girl be strong, a feminist and still have a healthy ego??? I think life would be a little easier if we all loved ourselves as much as Aelin does. Confidence!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I honestly believe that this will be a problem for quite some time to come still. Simply because it’s a problem in nowadays society / world. As long as THAT isn’t solved, it will always be visible in opinions on fictional characters as well. I wish it was different; but all we can do is spread awareness and mind ourselves not falling into this trap. :’)

    Liked by 1 person

    • A couple of years ago, I almost fell into the trap with Celaena. Before I read the series, I wasn’t awareness of her background, and I questioned her as a character, until I actually read it and found out why.

      I believe readers will always criticize female leads easily because we expect too much out them, but we don’t realize the authors have made tangible characters to look up to.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The background of a character definitely has sooo much to do with it as well. I believe Celaena is one of those characters that could NOT be more fleshed out than she is, but, like you said, you only find out once you read the books.

        That’s definitely true. We always want them to be more than they are – maybe because we also put that same amount of pressure on ourselves. We still live in a world where we, as women, have to prove ourselves day in, day out after all.. Just being “enough” isn’t good enough.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Still even then, people continue to criticize her though. All I hear is, “Well, she’s not much of an assassin if she saves lives.” Frankly, she didn’t want to be one. She had her entire future planned out by a sadist, so excuse me for defending her. 🤦🏻‍♀️ But you are right though. I love how this character has evolved, and her background just adds to that.

        I find that sad when you think about that concept. And I questioned it myself. Unfortunately, I don’t think this self-pressure will disappear.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh, same. I’ve heard that as well and it bothers me to no end. I’m like.. “Did we even read the same book? Because I remember it NOT being her choice becoming an assassin. She simply had to survive and did anything she could to do just that.”

        It is sad. We can only try or best to realize for ourselves that we are enough and we can’t do more than simply the best we’re able to.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a really well written post, and I definitely agree – although I think a lot of this mirrors how society generally views women in the world, especially with strong women being seen as a bitch. You see it in like organizational leadership/in the workplace… women who have “male characteristics” in the workplace (direct, demanding, confident, etc) are seen negatively, whereas men are praised for those characteristics. It is an annoying – yet interesting – dichotomy that subconsciously infects every aspect of life, and while I never really related it to impressions about female characters, I definitely see the correlation. Badass women IRL and in fiction deserve a lot more credit!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve just made my day with this comment.

      You’d hope that literature would right the wrong in our society by supporting strong female characters, but I’m not surprised this situation reflects what women face daily. What I find disturbing is when women criticize these characters and not realize the harm they’re causing to younger readers.

      Like

  5. Brilliant post and I definitely agree. I was (and still am) a massive Katniss fan and I remember some outrage (if that’s the right word?) that at the end she settled down and became a mother. In the eyes of some people because she had been a fighter and a revolutionary figure she shouldn’t have been wanting romantic love and to pursue ‘female’ life choices such as motherhood. I feel that they missed the point – that all through the trilogy Katniss was written as an incredibly caring and nurturing individual who didn’t want children because a) she was a teenager at the time and b) the world they lived in was not exactly child friendly. Her arc lead to the calmness after the war and the healing that allowed her to make different decisions. It’s as though women who are kick ass can’t be mothers and I think that is routed in some people’s viewpoints of male and female characters in books.

    I also agree with you about Nesta. In my opinion I think she is more interesting because of the complexities of her character. Is she likeable? Not particularly but than I’m reading a book. I don’t necessarily want likeable and also how one person heals from trauma is not the same as how another deals. I think how Nesta is dealing with her experiences is actually very reflective of her non-open personality. It would be strange if she reached out and asked for help now, when she’s at her most vulnerable, when she never would have asked ordinarily.

    Sorry this comment went on forever!

    Like

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