Back in 2018, I talked about female leads deserving equal respect as their male counterparts. I loved that conversation. I opened up about an issue I witnessed while travelling through the blogosphere and Goodreads. And I saw how many female readers see the same problem. Now, I want to talk about female villains.
I love them. They give readers a new antagonist who can offer a refreshing storyline. But I often find many them with badly thought out backstories. So if our leading ladies get them, why can’t our villains receive them as well? For my next discussion, I want to talk about that question.
Female Villains’ Backstories Shouldn’t Revolve around a Man
How many series have villains whose backstory depends on a man scorning them? I’ve had enough of this trope. There are plenty of wicked women who don’t need a man to make them who they are. Authors can simply create a stronger reason for why their antagonists are the way they are. Perhaps society still sees that the only reason why a woman will rebel is that a man scorned her. Wrong. So damn wrong, society.
Society Expects More Male Villains, Less Female Ones
I’ve seen several people say that they love this villain but wish said character was a man. Huh? Really, people? Have you forgotten about Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who, according to legend, killed at least 650 servant girls who she tortured? We should give me more respect since she is the person who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Now just imagine in Dracul was a woman.
But we didn’t get a female Dracul, now did we? No. And unfortunately, people may have forgotten about the countess as well. But people still don’t realize female villains are just as captivating as the male ones. They want to continue to believe women cannot commit such acts. Let me remind you of one thing: they can, they do, and they walk among you all. Either they are scorned bitches, or they’re timid does who need protecting.
Wickedness Isn’t Feminine
I hope you all hear my cackle, all the way from chilly Canada. Villainesses can easily kill a man where he stands. They know the power of poison and a well-formed alliance and the strength of steel. So authors can easily bring feminity to evil. So let’s hope they and readers realize this flaw and wish that they’ll fix it.
Authors/Readers Sexualize Villains, Not Give Them the Respect They Need
I love Harley Quinn and Catwoman. But artists/authors typically sexualize these characters. But they stand on their own. And thankfully, the writers have given them the right to own that sexuality. But that matter still stands though. Now, one villainess who isn’t necessarily sexualized is Bellatrix Lestrange. Again though, her backstory is directly linked to Voldemort. He may look like a snake, but he’s still a man.
Females don’t equate to sexuality though. They’re not exclusive. They aren’t married as one. So readers shouldn’t expect the two to intertwine for all antagonists.
Perhaps We Aren’t Ready for More Villainesses
I hope not. I truly do. One glowing aspect of Victoria Aveyward’s Red Queen, which was steeped in tropes, is the Evangeline Samos. At first, I hated her, but I grew to love her as a complicated, multi-faceted villainess. And does she have a man influencing her life choices? Hell no. Praise the book gods for Victoria pulling off that feat. Even anti-heroes like Mia Corvere from Nevernight is almost a godsend now. And many readers have embraced her. She’s an unconventional antagonist. So we should accept more villainesses.