Julie Screeches For Goddamn Antiheroines
TODAY’S BREW: The Blood of Thine Enemy
I ranted the other day about antiheroes and the total lack of love for the antiheroine in literature. Here you go: http://t.co/gyBhBbte1Z
WELL, I’M NOT DONE YET.
The constant issue of creating the “strong” female character is mindblowing. Never do you hear the phrase “strong male character.” Yet we have to get out the goddamn test tubes and mustache potions to make a female character that doesn’t radiate LOSER. Then we’re left with these tough broads that can kick anyone’s ass with their pinky finger, have this poorly placed sarcastic mouth, and have been hurt by some man but still considers themselves “one of the guys.”
I find this fucking tiresome. Women trying too hard not to be girly girls. This is weakness in my eyes. Any character that feels forced into a role is weak. I’d take an actually weak female character any day over this. One of the arguably weakest female characters I’ve ever read, and yet she seemed pretty genuine.
Speaking of genuine, we get to the matter at hand; the antiheroine. A female character that doesn’t have the conventional attitude of a heroine. This is a character that to me, is a product of their experiences and environment, is hardened, has flaws that aren’t “cute,” and isn’t beloved by all.
But she’s realistic. She’s interesting. She’s unique and strong in her own way, and has contradictory weaknesses. She doesn’t seek to impress. She’s not the girl you’d usually root for, but she’s got something that you identify with, that you say, “yeah, that could be me if I went through that, too.” But you don’t love her like you’d love your best friend or sister. She’s not that kind of lady.
The antihero is generally uber cool. Wolverine. Tyler Durden. Batman. Lestat. Snape. They’re off-putting, abrasive at times, cold, full of themselves. And we love them.
Now give those characteristics to a female character, and it’s a lot tougher to think of them. Now think of the antiheroine in a book, and it’s even harder.
This pisses me off. As a woman who loves an antihero far more than a typical hero, I’m also more inclined to love an antiheroine, someone who doesn’t fit into the goody-goody box, a helluva lot more. I want a heroine I maybe don’t entirely trust, but when she’s invested in me she’d give her life for mine. One who has a set of values that she won’t back down from, no matter who sees them as wrong. One who’s been hurt, dove into the metaphorical volcano, and come out on the other side with some scars, internal or not.
This kind of character takes balls to write, and once written is often seen as “unlikeable,” therefore not one likely to grace bookshelves. Because even if your girl has fought the devil himself, the Wang-centric world wants to see her still be understanding, compassionate and vulnerable.
I dare to say this isn’t always the fucking case. I want to see the battle wounds.
It seems as though we’ve also been pigeonholed into this idea that for a woman to be relatable she has to be one or several of these things:
- In love with the wrong guy as a personality trait
- Not as pretty as her friend/sister/other girl
Screw that. I’m not saying that I don’t identify with any of these traits, but they’re all flaws that are non-intrusive. Male antiheroes can be as toe-stepping as they want to be. Crass language, outright rude, joyless. If you give any of that to a woman she’s just a bitch. Put a beer in the hand of a snarling character and you get two very different images if you picture a man or a woman.
Fuck that, too.
On the other post I did I searched antihero and antiheroine images. I’ll shorten that here but you gotta see this. This is the first antihero image you get:
Antiheroine? Here you go:
As a woman, I think YES. FINALLY A WOMAN I CAN SEE AS A COOL, SELF-POSSESSED SURVIVOR WITH AN EDGE—
Oh, wait. NO, I DIDN’T.
What the fuck?? Compare those two images. So, in order for a woman to be a viable antiheroine she has to be duller than hell and not feminine? How about women with some brutality to them and unapologetic sexuality? How about THAT. Like this:
And dare I say THIS:
And a whole lot of this:
WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF, THAT THESE KINDS OF CHARACTERS AREN’T AS WIDELY SEEN AS THE TYPICAL HEROINE?? Who do we think we’re fooling that readers wouldn’t identify with women that are damaged, unafraid to get dirty, unstable at times, outright cruel at others, but with deep-seeded reasons and rock solid cores that they stick to? Is it easier for the average woman to identify with the romantic heroine whose greatest flaw is that she loves too much? I don’t fucking think so.
This is a call out to every writer out there, no matter what sex you identify with, write a female character that breaks the mold. Make ‘antiheroine’ a word that autocorrect recognizes.