Finding Great Heroines
I'm sat here writing this after coming home from watching Wonder Woman for the first time. Don't worry - this isn't a film review - but it got me thinking about role models for women in stories (not just books!). There's been plenty written about Strong Female Characters, and any of you who follow @broodingYAhero will be more than aware of most of these foibles, so I'll try not to dwell on them here. But as a writer, and a reader, Wonder Woman made me think about the examples we are setting young women in writing.
YA has such a myriad of amazing heroines, but so many of the big hitters of YA don't depict women far outside of the Strong Female Character trope. I'm thinking Hunger Games, Divergent, even books I've enjoyed more like Throne of Glass, etc. That might be a strange parallel to draw, given that Wonder Woman is a fighter, but I felt like my response to Diana was very much influenced by how she is presented to us. Yes, Chris Pine is around for most of the film and so I suppose there is a 'male' gaze there. But the fact that the whole world we're immersed in for the first part of the film is entirely devoid of men means that the usual trope of the Strong Female Character, which always seems to be defined in relation to 'being male', isn't rearing its ugly head (or, at least it wasn't for me). Fighting here isn't a 'male' thing. It's an everyone thing.
And I loved it. I loved it for being so unapologetically female, for not putting in what would have been an easy male-bashing gag or two (although I did enjoy that scene on the boat...!). It felt like, when Diana enters 'the real world', that generally speaking people just roll with it. In fairness, I imagine they'd have been far less happy to 'roll with it' if she didn't have the ability to beat the living daylights out of them, but still.
So I'm sat here, reflecting on my own WIP. Wonder Woman has the gender dynamics I'd love to be able to replicate - a woman who is strong in many ways, and who has a male friend there but who doesn't have him there running the show. So often I can find myself slipping in to tropes, or getting halfway through a scene and then calling myself out on whatever trope has weaseled its way in so I can change it. And it's because so much of anyone's writing is a product of the stories they consume. Clearly I need more films like Wonder Woman (and Star Wars! Love me some Rey!) in my life, as well as seeing a far higher percentage of these types of heroines in books I'm reading.
My request of all of you, then, is to send me all and any recommendations you can of these kinds of stories, with fantastic heroines like Diana. You can tweet me or leave a comment below! Meanwhile, I'm going to bask in the joy of just having watched a woman-centred kickass film for the first time in forever.
I'm still grinning my face off.