Monday, January 20, 2014

On Antiheroes and Likability

Monday, January 20, 2014
I want a female antihero.

I want a female character who isn't inherently "likable," who isn't necessarily kind or polite. I want a female character with questionable intentions and morals, one who is written with shades of gray.

I mean, Sherlock, Jasper Dent, Dexter, Alex, Raskolnikov, Murtagh... why do the boys get to have all the fun?

Oh yeah, that's right. Because female characters are graded on likability.

Now I'm not saying all female characters are reviewed based on likability all the time, but it happens a lot. Male characters can be complex, obnoxious, sarcastic, maybe even a bit evil, and all that can be forgiven. Heck, it's even encouraged! I mean, how many times have you seen the below post on your Tumblr dashboard? (If you don't have Tumblr, I can assure you it would have shown up a lot if you did.)

Oh you know, just casually planning his BFFs murders. How adorable! But would it be considered so adorable if a woman said it?

Female characters shouldn't have to meet theses ridiculous standards, especially not when male characters can essentially do whatever they want and still amass a large fanbase. They should be allowed to be any kind of character, whether that means they are traditionally feminine, or kind of rough, or an antihero.

And, I mean, that would be awesome. Can you imagine if the Merlin series was the Morgana series instead?! Besides the fact that she might have actually had the character development and continuity she deserved (a post for another day), we the viewers would have had a wholly different relationship with her. We would remember that her intentions were good, even if her actions were not. We would have felt more sympathy for her, and more antipathy towards Merlin. In some ways, Merlin would have been the villain.

Or what if there was a book series/BBC TV show about a female detective who revels in serial killer mysteries, who scorns human relationships, but who has one true best friend (not that I would want Moffat going anywhere near this, but again, that's a post for another day).

I would watch/read these stories in a heartbeat.

What about you: Would you read a story with a female antihero?


P.S. maybe genius did a phenomenal post about female characters and the double standard, which I highly advise you check out.

10 comments:

  1. Hear hear! I couldn't agree with this post more. Have a male character who stands in the way of your character's happiness (even if it's evil)? Yay! But a female character? Death threats.

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    1. It's saddening and sickening how some people react to female characters who don't fit into their idea of what a female character "should be."

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  2. Very, very good points. And probably why I'm so drawn to protagonist Chess Putnam in Stacia Kane's 'Downside Ghosts' urban fantasy series. Granted, over the course of the series Chess attempts to "better" herself - but she still has lots of faults and is still very much an antihero.

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    1. Ooh I haven't read those books. I'll have to see if my library has them.

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  3. I would *love* to read a story with a female antihero. But we have such high standards for women (and not just female characters) that those antiheroes that exist get hated on. And I hate that.

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    1. Maybe if people are just exposed to lots of female antiheros they'll change their tunes? Maybe?

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  4. Amen to that! See, this is why I love coming over to your blog so much and I haven't been over in way too long... (it surely feels like it)!

    There are higher standards for female character and you made a great point by saying that they're mostly reviewed on likability! A female antihero would be very refreshing and very very awesome!

    Rocking post Sara!

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    1. Aw thanks, girl!!

      I'm glad people are into the idea of a female antihero (or just female characters who break stereotypes). It's the first step to getting rid of the double standard.

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  5. I think Sarah J. Maas's character Celaena would fit the anti-hero description. Same with Morgan on the (now cancelled) Camelot tv show (played by Eva Green). Both are women who do things that can be judged as wrong or cold or just shockingly anti-heroish. Morgan does some BAD things, but her character is written with depth and so as much as she's very bad, she's also a character I care about a lot.

    Celaena especially has that cocky, arrogant, obnoxious attitude that's found in male characters like Han Solo or Damon on the Vampire Diaries. She's not as straight up bad as Morgan can be, but she definitely hits a ton of character traits that are usually reserved for male characters. She's also super feminine and the combination of the two in one character is a fabulous blend. I like how she can embrace both sides of the spectrum.

    They're both among my top favorite female characters.

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    1. Throne of Glass has been sitting in my TBR pile for far too long now. Celaena sounds like an AWESOME character!

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Your comments brighten my day. :)