Over time reading books and discussing literary matters has taught me many things. Some of them being thinking in a more diverse manner and seeing things from another point of view than I was used to. I’m rather glad to behold this progress for it was hardly earned.
So, now you’re probably asking yourself: “Laura what is your point?” I tell you just that; it is not only about taking in what seems strikingly odd but rather forming your own opinion regarding an often discussed issue in literature, and in this case that would be feminism.
We all have read this one book where we came to the conclusion that we don’t like the main character because he or she appears weak and therefore annoying. These days one thing can’t seem to go without the other. But does it really have to be this way or is it only a figment that seemingly drains away all will from us?
I, for my part, read mostly YA which is directed to an audience between the ages of, let’s say, thirteen and twenty. I am in the center of this and rather often I found myself surrounded by some dubious displays of characters and how people seem to absorb these meetings with their own eyes. It is always a waiting game as to when the first reader just has to put in his or her two cents regarding said character’s traits and personalities. And first off, nothing is wrong with forming your own opinion and sticking to it but what makes me cringe is the fact that some people just don’t know that there’s a thin line between being of a certain opinion and being offensive and insulting towards not only said character but also the author. It is understandable for an author to be able of bearing critic. At the end it is an essential way of improving your writing but what most people don’t seem to understand is that the writer is also just a person. And who would’ve thought, they also possess, what you would call, feelings! I’m wandering off course but this just had to be said.
But to get back to the main topic, just think about it; we are all human beings. And what does that say about us? Right, we are all individuals and we all bear the mark of flaws. And I see nothing wrong with displaying this pattern in literature as well. Books are a place where fiction and reality can collide and we readers are the witnesses of this glory. So why is it, that when girls cry they seem week and annoying and as for the male characters it’s all attracting and handsome because they show true emotions? You can’t name a solid and satisfying answer to this question because there is none!
History shows us that this gender role allocation was there all along and even though it does not compare to the extent as we had it back then it is still a heavily discussed topic. Quite rightly so!
So what is it about YA? YA offers a big variety of heroines, even more so than male heroes. And do they always have to make the right decisions and to be strong in the literal sense to count as such? The answer should be simple but sadly that’s not the case. Men are the stronger sex. It has always been this way and it shall be like this today as well how it seems. Imperfection is a part of being human and not everyone can be strong and all hero-like. We have to accept this fact and see not only the bad but the good sides of a person because we have so much more to offer than our stigmas.
To involve a bit of literary as well; I bet you have already heard of the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. It is about a girl named Kestrel who lives in a fantastical world. The story is very politically-heavy and this is reflected in our main character either. She isn’t the typical strong heroine but rather a calculating and cunning mastermind who needs nothing but her knowledge to win her battles. In my opinion this concept is so much better than fighting your enemies with your fist, in many ways. It shows that we are capable of so much more than violence and recklessness.
Did you get my point? We, as the readers, have the power to change how we view these types of things but most just stick to what’s old and advocated for. It’s correct that, especially in the YA genre, this major movement has already settled in but it has the potential to show the true extent of what could be. So the next time, before you start criticizing a character, just take your time and question your earlier intentions. Perhaps you come to terms with it and even though it’s just a small step toward equality it is one more than we have reached before and can still make a difference.