The Truth Behind “Strong Female Characters”

Today I got to have a chat with a fellow writer who’s just starting out. She and I had a very fun chat that started with a discussion on superhero films. It quickly changed to a discussion on the “strong female character” trope in television and literature. It was easily one of the most informative and revealing discussions I’ve ever had with someone on the topic. If she stays with this way of thinking, I think she could go pretty far in the writing industry.

This is the slightly edited version of her side of the conversation.

*Warning: Occasional Language*

I think that women in superhero movies are often really dumbed down to either two stereotypes:

1.) Helpless or

2.) “I DONT NEED A MAN I AM WOMAN IM SO POWERFUL AND SEXY YEAH I HAVE NO FEELINGS I AM A BRICK WALL- oh wait I’m gonna soften up.”

Strong women don’t always need to be one of the extremes. Here are some examples of “strong” characters that I honestly hate: Michonne from the Walking Dead, Black Widow, Catwoman. [They’re] the kind of sexy but very stone-faced characters. [Michonne] is one of the stereotypical strong women that doesn’t like to feel emotions outwardly, and I’ve just seen that so much. I love Lori and Carol because they’re so dynamic and not just sexy, strong, and stoned-face. That’s just my opinion.

I just get annoyed when I see females like that, because I think that people try to overcompensate for women. They try to make them as strong as possible, but then it makes them the typical “oh look how strong I am, I don’t need a man, I can shut out the world”.

I like characters who are both strong and loving, especially mothers. Honestly, my favorite characters are usually mothers like Molly Weasley. She’s so caring, kind of cute and sweet, but is extremely strong.

Honestly if there’s one thing I’ll say [about her], J.K. Rowling did an amazing job with female characters.

  • Hermione – strong, smart, physically not beautiful, but so loving,
  • Tonks – kinda scrappy and awkward but a fighter,
  • McGonagle – badass but caring.

It didn’t have to be the modern superhero sob-story, sexy angst-fest.

I feel like it almost adds to the sexual appeal when the “strong women” are really stone-faced and emotionless because then it becomes the man hero’s job to try and make her feel again, which is usually what happens. Michonne and Rick, Gamorah and Starlord, Black Widow and Bruce. And it’s funny, because these “strong” women are usually actually very sexualized. When I see a “strong woman character”, I often cringe. If they’re trying to make her strong, chances are they’re trying too hard. I love mother characters. Extreme love, extreme strength.

A lot of other “strong women” honestly are just bitchy.

I do like Rey, too. She’s a strong female that wasn’t over sexualized and didn’t come off as unfeeling. At first I thought she was, but it wasn’t overly so.

Lori was amazing because although I didn’t like her as a person, she was really complex, and often got faced with a lot of moral choices. I would sometimes say “Oh, she shouldn’t have done that!”, but then [I thought], “Honestly, I may have done that.”

Any female character that is badass and knows it and then continues with it, [she] just seems a little laughable to me. Please chill out and stop defining yourself only by your strength.

I “like” Michonne but, honestly, people are like, “wow, she’s so strong and badass”. I’m sorry, but in a woman, badassery is fine, but if that’s your defining quality it gets old. Michonne is the same but she really just becomes predictable. And [she’s] always so bitchy. I’m just so sick of strong female characters. Just make them characters; complex, not as badass as possible.

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New Hermione Theory

I HAVE OFFICIALLY CONCOCTED A THEORY REGARDING THE RACE OF HERMIONE GRANGER (book canon): I believe Hermione is actually…

Mixed race.

Many might think that’s pretty simple. She’s white in the movie, must be white in the books, right? I don’t think it’s that simple. A large group of people here on Tumblr have decided that she’s black due to some of the clues I will mention in this, but I don’t think it’s that simple either.

People who support the black Hermione theory look to a phrase later in the series that mentions that she came back from summer break looking “very brown”. Well, why would she use the word “very” if the character wasn’t already brown? Couldn’t she just have said “brown”? And they use that to say that, alongside her naturally curly, frizzy hair, she must be black. 

We’ll refer back to this later.

If you look at J.K. Rowling’s official drawings, it seems pretty clear that she’s white. 

image

The other characters are white, and she appears to be the same skin tone. You would think that maybe she changed the race later, or that she doesn’t draw skin colors, but neither of those appear to be true. In fact, in a much later drawing, Hermione is still white and drawn next to a black character. 

image

Also, in another section in the books, she is described as having poked her “white face” around a tree. So why is her skin described as white in one place and brown in another?

Because they’re both correct.

Think about it. A normal white person can’t tan to the point of being very brown, at least not often. Especially not in just one summer. And a normal black person can’t be accurately described as having a white face, nor can a latina.

But if you’re a mixed race with paler skin, this is not so crazy of a concept. I know a person who is mixed, is only slightly tan (but still looks kinda white) and then tans like crazy during summer to the point they don’t look white anymore. In fact, they look… drum roll please… very brown. 

This seems to be most likely to me.

Thoughts? Let me know. I’m open to different thoughts on this.