It always struck me as strange that, in the past 4 years I was an English Literature Major, that I started noticing similarities in several unrelated stories. One similarity that has bothered me most was the typical depiction of a female character, protagonist or side character. Either they are dependent on another character to get through the story, lost without guidance, or their presence in the story is purely as a relation to another character. This was mostly from English Literature degree novels I’ve had to read but it worried me regardless. I’m not arguing that these make terrible stories, but rather it would be refreshing to see a strong female character that has goals and a driven ambition that is independent of other characters. However I must acknowledge that the definition of a Strong Female Character is rather ambiguous, but a strong character is, in my opinion, rather straight forward. A strong character should be a character that stands for their own beliefs and is willing to fight for those beliefs. Maybe not at first, but perhaps the inciting incident causes something that may strengthens the beliefs of this character and cause them to fight harder. Or the inciting incident may have the beliefs of this character challenged and they progress through the story reinforcing these beliefs and strengthening them, or altering them from the knowledge gained through new experiences. But much of the literature I’ve had to read in English Literature classes have had female characters either cheating on their partners, raped, completely dependent on a man, or simply lost. This alarmed me and I found it rather depressing to read about. But it led me to wonder why there aren’t many strong female protagonists in literature, movies or video games. Is it so strange to see a female protagonist with strong convictions and a determination to achieve something grand? One that isn’t based on the fact that she’s a woman and more that she’s a character trying to achieve something great?
Maybe there will eventually be a strong female protagonist that achieves something akin to defeating an empire, a dark lord or saving the world. It should be noted this is all from my own experiences with literature, movies and video games. I may be completely wrong but it is just a pattern I noticed and was concerned about. If you have any opposing views or evidence against this thought I would love to know.
3 thoughts on “Where are all the Strong Female Protagonists?”
I actually watched a great Ted Talk discussing this issue. http://www.ted.com/talks/colin_stokes_how_movies_teach_manhood.html Thought you might enjoy seeing it. I think there has been some effort to increase female protagonists lately, but it has not been highly popular. Good post.
He makes a lot of valid points, especially when he starts discussing the Bechdel test. I never thought about the fact that many movies really do fail the test. Hollywood generally doesn’t have woman portrayed as Strong Protagonists.
He also touches on the point that the lack of strong female characters not only affects young girls out there but boys as well. Having heroes that can be both Men and Women working together rather than alone really does seem like a much better lesson to teach younger generations than having them believe in the lone cowboy routine.
This is a pretty good video, thanks for sharing! =)
Not a problem! I’m glad you enjoyed it!