Strong Female Characters Trope
'Strong female character' is a very broad term for a trope, isn't it? What type of 'strong' are we talking about?
If you guessed physical, you're right!
That's not to say that this is how it should be. More that this is how it is.
The Strong Female Character was created to be the exact opposite of the Damsel in Distress. They (whoever 'they' are) realized that women wanted to be portrayed as more than just the person who constantly needs to be saved. They realized that women wanted some agency.
So what did they do?
They made women behave like men.
Whenever you see women portrayed on screen or in books as being 'strong', she's basically one of the guys. Fights, drinks beer, will sleep with anything that looks at her twice.
What's with beer drinking? Like, beer bellies, the fact that it's basically sour wheat juice with the alcohol content of my sister's homemade kombucha and none of the delicious flavor...
And yet, in every movie and tv show, when a man asks, "What can I get you to drink?"
She says, "Have you got beer?"
He looks surprised. Of course he's surprised! Beer is disgusting!
In the end, it's this whole, "she's not like other women. She likes beer."
Yeah, because they want her to be 'one of the guys.' What they're doing is showing impressionable young women and girls that masculine is the best way to be, and feminine traits are 'weak.'
THIS is why I just don't care for the Strong Female Character trope.
I have to admit, my books certainly fall under this trope, since I have many characters who fall under the broad category of 'strong.' And yes, many of them get into fights a lot. As a matter of fact, they enjoy fighting.
But they're not solely defined by that single trait. They don't glorify all things masculine and shit on anything that's looked at as more feminine, nurturing traits.
I find it irksome that I need to use the #strongfemalecharacter in order to get my book seen by the people who would enjoy it. Especially since, when I check out other books who use that hashtag, they're not very similar. Too many of those books go full classic style 'strong.'
(I could go on about some things I've read, but then this would turn into a shit-fest, and we don't need any of that.)
I feel like too many authors (some women are in this boat, too!) use character tropes - any character trope - as the characters sole, defining characteristic. The character is never allowed to grow.
Now, I can see starting with a character who is a classic 'strong' woman, but then let her grow! Let her learn that being masculine isn't the end all, be all of humanity. Let her learn to value things like love, caring, and drink some freaking cocktails to wash the beer taste out of her mouth!
This world still persists in telling us that feminine traits are weak. As if the only form of strength that exists is physical. As if violence is the only path.
Now, if you've read my book, you know that my characters fight all. The. Time. But that's because they looked around and realized the only way to get an invading army to leave is to make it.
But they don't glorify the fight. It's not all about killing. It's about protecting those they love and trying to make things a little bit better, one person at a time.
That's why I began another hashtag, #femaleledaction . It's just as vague, but it leaves space in there for women to be as diverse and REAL as we are in real life. There is space in here for women to need saving, for women to do the saving, for them to nurture, love, fight, bleed, and live.
It simply lets you know that this is an action book, and it has women.