Girl Monsters

I was scrolling through my Tumblr dash, as I am wont to do, and I came across a fascinating quote that really got my brain juices stirring.

Apparently, I stir my brain juices in a teacup? Is there any other way?

Recently, there’s been an outburst of postings on heroines and female characters in books. While some of this has been terrible, and even downright despicable (shaming teenage girls, arguing that there isn’t still a huge gender divide in literature today, etc.), other stronger voices are being heard. We want more female characters, good and bad and everything in between.

So when I came across the quote below, it immediately caught my attention.

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 9.38.19 PM
Source: yahighway.tumblr.com

At first, I was like:

I want this. GIRL MONSTERS. How amazing does that sound? And how rare? It reminded me of The Lord of the Rings, actually. In a fantasy series that could’ve be ripe with girl creatures, there are only three main females characters, one human and two elves. Gimli tells this hilarious story about dwarf women, but we never actually see any. The Entwives have literally been lost, completely written out of a story where they could’ve crushed some serious Isengard. I’m not bashing LotR. It’s one of my favorite series of all time, but sometimes I wish there was so much more.

But then I reread the quote and the line that really struck a chord with me was the writer saying he/she wants to “see how you get strong without being broken first.”

There isn’t just one way to be strong. Part of what makes a character’s journey compelling is the hardship, the struggle to overcome. It doesn’t have to be a kingdom to conquer or a one true love. It can be as simple as fighting against the insecurity of looking in the mirror and seeing nothing. But that struggle makes the character human and even monsters have humanity.

It’s been my experience that strength isn’t innate; it’s learned. Being broken or starting off small isn’t a bad thing. So I’m not tired of my heroines hurting. I want them to hurt and smile and break and rise from the ashes and gnash their teeth and roar and show off their shiny scales.

Let’s chat! Do you want to see more girl monsters? Are you tired of your heroines hurting?

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6 thoughts on “Girl Monsters

  1. I don’t think the whole idea of heroines getting hurt – mentally, physically, whatever – is the whole idea. I think it’s the fact that if we were to use an example, Twilight (Bella), and describe her… Meek. Quiet. Shy. Those aren’t bad, let’s go with other adjectives – Whiny. Helpless. “Rightly-too-dependent-on-something-shiny”. Those aren’t qualities a lot of post-feminist-movement young female adults might be interested in. By giving any kind of strengthening quality to a female character we are teaching young women, and men, that their hardships won’t/shouldn’t break them but should actually empower them to accomplish more, not less.
    Female monsters would be nice, or at least make them less cliché. By making them interesting without making them out to look like heroes you’d have something less mainstream. A female werewolf that changes the hunting mentality of a stubborn wolf-pack that been hunted down to near extinction by local farmers? I guess that still makes her a hero, but it doesn’t sound so crumby. I dunno… It would definitely be nice to see less Spider-man-like characters and more Katniss monsters.
    – Krys

  2. THAT GIF OF UMA THURMAN IS TERRIFYING.

    But in other news…yes. Just yes to all of it. I think the biggest part of why I love Caleana so much is that she is so unashamed of herself, and that is so refreshing and definitely a trend I want to see happen in fiction – particularly YA fiction where I think it has the most impact on women. If Alanna and Lyra shaped my childhood, I’m all for Caleana being the next generation of that (except you know…the assassin part). I hate that even in books the way a girl looks is so emphasized, and that so often their self esteem is very low – and directly linked with their looks, and not their abilities. Really, while there are heroines (Bella) I’m not a fan of, there’s a place for them in our literature. What we need is more widespread diversity in what women are represented – not only in races (or species), but in skill sets and personalities. Not tropes or stereotypes. Girl monsters? I’m in. Whether that means physically, emotionally, or mentally I vote yes!

    And again, that’s a big part of why I love Caleana. hile Caleana knows she’s pretty and how to use it, but that’s not what makes her valuable. What makes her so badass is that she is talented. She takes absolute pride in her skills and values herself on her achievements – not her social standing, not her looks. In what she does. It’s particularly interesting as she works in a field that I think most of us would view as predominately masculine (or when nonmasculine almost entirely reliant on sex appeal and poison).

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  4. 1000% yes to this! That’s why I love women like Natasha Romanov (Avengers is my crack I tell you) and Katniss. It’s not that they’re attractive or lucky; they’re SKILLED. They’re strong and fierce and intelligent and they don’t go down without a fight, and I think it’s an amazing thing to show young women, that you don’t have to rely on your looks or your boyfriend or society’s opinion to be whole. Your own mind and heart and ability is what makes you who you are, what makes you capable of great things.
    That’s not to say I don’t like my heroines to hurt (well, I usually don’t actually, unless I don’t like the heroine) but how did the line go? “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I want a heroine who’s strong but not heartless, who can take whatever is thrown at her and stay standing.

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