Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Literary Ladies: Why I Don't Want an All-Female Lord of the Flies

Okay, so this post is a bit of a rant. It's just that as a woman, as a reader, and as a writer, I have a vested interest in female characters, and I can't keep my mouth shut about it anymore. With all these new female-driven remakes (think Ghostbusters, Lord of the Flies, and other projected projects), I thought it was time to discuss. 

First off, I don't want a remake of old male-driven stories. All that tends to do is create flat characters who aren't authentic because woman was injected into the story to appease the masses. That only adds to the problematic archetypes we're already fighting including...

1. The Super Sexy Lady
I actually became shockingly enraged recently having invest a lot of time into trying to read the book The Magicians. I disliked the book for a variety of reasons, but chief among them was this: every woman was exactly the same, and every woman was nothing more than a voluptuous sexy-pants that didn't really have much more depth than that. Take, for instance, this quote:

"The woman was disarmingly, almost inappropriately pretty--"
And then later: 
"She was pale and thin and unreasonably lovely, with a broad, ridiculously sexy mouth."
But when describing men, we get something like this:
"His stomach was a sizable hump, his hair a crazy gray Einstein half-noggin."

While I don't think any of these descriptions are stellar, I have a clear image of the man. I know what he looks like. The females, on the other hand, are vague images that float away because they are as insubstantial as characters as their descriptions would have you believe.

2. The Fallen Woman
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP WITH THIS. Everyone from Flaubert to Judd Apatow is guilty of this little trope. You create this character who is unattainable, vaguely cold with some sort of mental hang up, and somehow irresistible. In the end, there are two options. A, the woman self-destructs like in Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina. Or B -- the option I refer to as the John Green option -- the woman is lusted after by some self-proclaimed pathetic nice-guy loser, and she hurts him (think Love, the Netflix show, Looking for Alaska... the list goes on). Both are predictable. 

3. The Sweetheart
Everybody loves a sweetie, including me! But when that sweet woman has absolutely no personality, it's mind-numbingly boring. And no, I'm not saying that every character must be strong, self-assured and confident. I think a self-conscious female character can be very dynamic. But a lack of personality (cough cough BELLA SWAN cough cough), is something different altogether.

Look, I could go on, but I won't. My point is this: We don't need female-driven remakes like Ghostbusters and Lord of the Flies. We need original, dynamic, complicated female characters that are telling their own stories. We need characters who -- likable or not -- are reflections of real human women. That's what we want. Nothing more.