The catch-22 in the phrase “strong female character”

Strong female characters.

I have a huge issue with that sentence. Issues is the better word.

The first issue is one that is a byproduct of the phrase “strong female character”. So much is being made about the need for strong female characters in books and television that the male character is being shoved to the side.

Therein lies the catch-22.

I will state this blatantly without sugarcoating:

There is a need for women in roles (all forms of media) where they can make smart and bad decisions by themselves, without the help of a quorum of women or a male character who tells them what to do.

However, by not hearing, “You know what that book needs? A strong male character.” or “I really like the hero. A very strong male character.”; what you’re really doing by saying “strong female character” is that all men are strong​ by default and all women are weak by default; and to make it different you have to CREATE fictional men to be weak or fictional women to be strong.

Thereby demanding the creation of said characters, you have encountered the catch-22 and have helped further cement horrible stereotypes:

man = strong

woman = weak

In case you don’t know what a stereotype is. It is a false way of thinking of a group of people or an entire gender. Meaning: woman does not equal weak; man does not equal strong.

Books don’t need strong female characters. They need characters who are strong willed, tough, resilient, badass, good decision makers, leaders and enjoyable who just so happen to be a women.

My other issue is why are people yelling at authors for not including women in their books who can act on decisions they make without input from a man or a quorum of women? I firmly believe that if an author wants to be a backwards asshole and make women weak willed and subservient, they should be able to, it’s the beauty of living in a free country.

You know what you can do to make it so those people slowly get pushed so far out of the limelight they only speak to themselves with their books? Speak with your wallet. Publishers are the ones who push books with badass protagonists who are men and women who are subservient. If publishers see sales decline sharply with those types of books, they will (for the most part) stop publishing them.

I know I won’t buy a book where all women are in subservient roles or made to look like imbeciles that need the man to step in and do the job.

You know what will also help more than a hundred billion tweets, blog posts, and news articles?

Raise your children the correct way. Raise them that ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE EQUAL. Raise them in a way that, to them, it is common sense that so long as a person is alive that person can be anything; be it a badass protagonist, an astronaut, a world leader, a business leader, a sports star, an author, a cook, anything.

Don’t raise them to think women can do the same things as men. Raise the children to know, for it to be common sense to them that both genders can do the same thing; that gender only pertains to the plumbing you’re working with (I do advise to keep the birds and bees talk till sometime after kindergarten though. Just saying.).

On a closing note:

Would you like to know how to make a woman character strong willed, tough, resilient, badass, good decision makers, leaders and enjoyable?

Make a character who has all those attributes and make the character a woman instead of a man.


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