Melissa Walker

Monday, April 21st, 2014 Melissa Walker

The amazing Courtney Summers just wrote a great post “on unlikeable female protagonists”, and I had to share a bit of it here (though you really must go read the whole thing).
Basically, when people responded to one of her novels saying they loved the guy protagonist, who was not exactly a sweetheart, but hated the girl protagonist, also not sweet (they couldn’t connect with her, she was cold, etc). So Courtney says:

“I did a lot of navel-gazing soul-searching and I just kept getting annoyed because my thoughts decided to circle in this way: WHY DO GIRLS HAVE TO BE NICE ALL THE TIME THEY CAN BE MEAN AND ANGRY AND GENDER STEREOTYPING MUCH ARGH. Just. Like. That. I was bothered that the behaviours that are supported, loved, celebrated or romanticized in male characters would be, I thought, rejected in female characters because we have the perception that girls are sugar and spice and everything nice (er, not that I think wanting your significant other to DIE is an inherently male characteristic).
“We are HARD on girls.”
The whole post is fantastic, and it reminded me of this video clip I filmed of Libba Bray last year discussing something similar.

Let’s let female characters be compelling — must they always be likeable? Thoughts?

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3 Comments

  1. Ashley says:

    I totally agree with the sentiment… I guess there definitely is a double standard going on. However, I mostly read for character, so my personal preference is that the main protagonist and his/her love interest be likable. They don’t have to be perfect/sunshine-y/etc., but I do want them to be generally likable… However, I think I look at things equally. I hate it when a girl in a book likes a guy who is basically a jerk throughout the whole thing, but then somehow redeems himself through one nice action. So in that way? I totally agree. Girls shouldn’t have to be one way while guys can get away with acting differently.

  2. JEM says:

    Hmmm…good post. I think pretending that male and female characters should have the right to act the same is a little naive. On the flip side of this argument is that a really nice, sweet male protag is often thought of as “boring.” Not all the time, but I’ve definitely read those guys. They don’t have any spice, like you say. Mainly I just expect female characters to be SMARTER than that. I forgive boys a lot in the name of stupidity :).

  3. Hannah S. says:

    That is so SO true. When we have a bitchy girl protagonist, it’s considered unacceptable, but when its a guy, all bets are off… How does that make any sense?!
    Sure, I’ll readily admit I can sometimes be that way too (everyone is guilty of this!), but it’s so unfair!
    Thanks for this, Melissa and Courtney! :)
    Love, Hannah

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