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.