So, why do you write these strong female characters?
Because you’re still asking me that question.
Odyssey is celebrating Women’s History Month, a part of which is taking a moment to think about the strong women we look up to. But, as a complete fangirl, I think that these strong women can include fictional characters. Looking at the traits of a strong person from the distance fictionality provides allows us to better analyze these characteristics. So…
"Harry Potter" is one of the most (if not the most beloved) series of all time. J.K. Rowling, in an interview on the women of "Harry Potter," talked about how writing strong female characters was really important to her while writing the series. Rowling, while talking about Lily Potter, explained the importance of a character we barely get to see throughout the series. Even just in memory, she is a place of refuge for Harry, not to mention she literally saved Harry’s life, and singlehandedly destroyed Voldemort because of the strength of her love. The same is true of Mrs. Weasley. When talking about Molly, Rowling says that there’s "real steel" in Molly. While she’s sometimes seen as a simple background character, Rowling says Molly is a “tiger defending her babies… it’s unstoppable.” This strength, a strength that stems from love, defeats another extremely strong (though, admittedly, evil) woman, who has a fake sense of what love is -- Bellatrix. A real strong love is always greater fake, selfish love.
Rowling says it was important to her that women were a major part of the fight, even though that requires placing strong women on both sides of the fight. (I mean, who was the real villain of the series?)
And of course, you can’t talk about the women of "Harry Potter" without talking about Hermione. Rowling explains in her interview that she feels young girls have a lot to sacrifice in order to obtain the “correct image” of what is expected of them, but Hermione refuses to change herself for others, and that’s something Rowling loved about writing her character. Not to mention that we all love Emma Watson, the actress to bring Hermione to the big screen. Rowling was most worried about Hermione’s character, and said that after talking to Watson on the phone for the first time, she was no longer worried because Emma, like Hermione, is a “bright, articulate girl with conviction.”
Strong female characters run all throughout literature, specifically young adult literature. Tris Prior of Veronica Roth’s "Divergent" trilogy can be considered a strong woman because she faced every fear she identified within herself throughout the books. But unlike Tris, who has to find her physical and mental strength in the book, the opposite can still be true and still create a strong female character. June Iparis in Marie Lu’s "Legend" trilogy doesn’t go from this shrinking violet to a warrior. She starts off as a warrior and has to learn that there is a strength in showing softness and emotion. Her form of bravery wasn’t to face her fears, but rather to allow people to touch her heart despite the inclinations ground into her from being a soldier.
And shall we talk about Katniss? Shall we talk about Bella?
There’s a controversy over Katniss. Many say she’s weak, and some say that nothing she did was worth it because of… the ending. (Honestly, if you don’t know the ending I should spoil you, but I’m nice so I won’t). But her dedication makes her strong. And Bella Swan, possibly one of the most picked-on protagonists of all time, really does have a strength in her love (so much she’s willing to die -- whether or not you believe that to be a stupid decision is another discussion, but you can’t deny the strength of will there).
Seeing strength in our favorite characters (whether in books, movies, or television shows) make us want to be strong as well, so I think that celebrating women can also include celebrating our favorite female characters and their authors.