Nice article here , by Sophia McDougall, about the Strong Female Character idea.
“Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong.”
Yeah. I love a great kickass female character like, say, Kate Daniels. But the idea that every paranormal / urban fantasy / YA fantasy / whatever needs this same exact style of witty kickass female protagonist is SO INFURIATING.
That’s one reason I loved, say, Tremaine from The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy by Martha Wells. Because she’s a complex and interesting female character, not a Strong Female Character.
I really really really want people to quit using the word Strong in this context and start using the word Complex. Because I think using the word Strong really does bias readers and reviewers and everyone to think that kickass female characters with swords / guns / knives / mad martial arts skillz are The Right Kind and other kinds of female characters are Not Strong and Therefore Not As Good. Which is obviously ridiculous.
I don’t necessarily like the use of the word “realistic” either, because I think that in literature there is a feeling that the word “realistic” means “literary” and carries connotations of unpleasant, neurotic, depressed, lonely, bitter — all this baggage, as though only negative qualities are realistic. I don’t know, does anybody feel that way about the word in this connection?
Anyway: “Is Sherlock Holmes strong? It’s not just that the answer is “of course”, it’s that it’s the wrong question.”
Yes yes yes. It IS totally the wrong question. I hereby vow never to use the word “strong” to describe any character again, ever. Or, yes, “feisty”, which sounds condescending to me anyway.
But Kate Daniels really is kickass, though. That’s just an accurate description right there.