1.02.2012

In Defense of Heroines

I don't even know where to begin with this. I guess I'll start from the beginning. I'm the advocate for Katniss in the YA Tournament of Heroines hosted by the YA Sisterhood. The tournament itself is fantastic, and it has been such an honor to represent my favorite heroine. I have made new friends, found others who are just as passionate about Katniss as I am, and have discovered even more heroines that I want to read about. These very things were the intent of the tournament to begin with: friendships, discovery of new books.

But I can't deny that there is an ugly side to the tournament that is beginning to come out. The last tournament the YA Sisterhood hosted was the YA Crush Tourney, and it consisted of nothing but fun and lighthearted banter. But it seems that when it comes to our heroines, we are all very protective and passionate, and it has been cause for some terrible things to be said and feelings to be hurt. I have watched Katniss get slammed, Hermione, Clary, Tessa, Fire, and many others. The Ya Sisterhood has said from the beginning that they will not tolerate this, and they have been true to their word. They've been working to delete comments and post reminders about acceptable comments. In fact, the comments I am referring to in this post have already been deleted. But it's still happening, and it's getting worse the closer we come to the final match. And until those comments are deleted, they are up for all to read.

Why are we so openly critical of our heroines? 

I'm reading these comments, tweets, and blog posts that are comparing heroines based on the amount of trials they have had (been guilty of this one myself), and saying how much worse the other heroine is because she hasn't been through as much; because she first cowered before deciding to fight; because for one moment she gave up; because she doesn't kick butt enough; because the guy in her story isn't as hot as another; because she's only smart, and nothing else.

When on Earth did having the brains to get you and your friends through any situation become a fault? When did being human and giving up for just a moment mean that you are any less of a person? When did kicking butt begin to replace the real definition of heroine? And what does a guy have anything to do with heroine-ism? 

We're looking at the wrong things here, people. You can't compare situations. Each character in each and every story is given at least one trial to get through, and usually that one is plenty hard enough. It's called plot, and that's what gives the story substance so you'll continue reading. You will never find a story with a character who doesn't have the hardest test/trial/emotional/physical pain OF THEIR LIFE to go through. 

A heroine isn't determined by how much butt she kicks, her kill count, her attitude, her amount of time in the story, the magnetism of her man, or even whether she's on the good side or not. A heroine is determined by how she reacts when the world (or even just a friend) is counting on her. A character can go from villain to heroine in one sentence. It's amazing. A character can also make mistakes, ask for help, and (gasp!) not be perfect. When it comes down to it, it's what happens in that one moment--the only moment that really counts--that matters. And even then, it's all colored by YOUR OWN perception. 

I don't really know where I'm going with this, I just know I had to say something. Katniss is going up against Tessa on Wednesday. Let's not compare, okay? They're both heroines. They are both strong, amazing characters who did great things in their stories. Vote for the one you admire; the one who inspires YOU to greatness as well. I hope you'll all vote for Katniss, but I know It will be different for everyone. Let's keep it fun and lighthearted. But whatever you do, don't make the mistake of bashing other people's heroines. 

We are all so much better than that.

18 comments:

  1. I love your post! Sometimes we get carried away with our heroines because we love them so much, but we need to be considerate of everyone else's heroines. This tourney should be fun and games!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the tournament as a whole has little to do with fun and more to do with annoying the hell out of your friends on social media. Also a lot of the seeds didn't seem really fair. Pitting someone with a huge fandom up against a debut author isn't really my idea of fun.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I haven't really been following along with the tournament (other than seeing posts and tweets asking for votes, etc.), but I hope it manages to get back to lighthearted and fun. We all have favorite heroines for different reasons - something about that character speaks to us, we identify with a situation they are in or a reaction they have - and I kind of dislike the idea of pitting them against each other.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pam, I hate to say that I disagree, but I do. As someone who advocated a debut character, I still enjoyed the tweeting and banter and camraderie that came from supporting "my" heroine. To most of us (especially us advocates who, for the most part, chose the girls who we would defend), the tourney -is- about fun. Even a crushing blow from a huge fandom wave hasn't killed how much I loved being a part of the tourney (in fact, I went to Cassie Clare's signing a few days after being "crushed" and gushed over her, too.)

    Penelope, this was a great post! Currently, because I LOVE all of the heroines, I've been voting by how well I think the advocate argued for her heroine and less by incentives/ character love. All of these girls in these last rounds are amazing. (and, thanks to the tourney, I now have a fresh copy of the Soul Screamers series sitting in my car. Isn't this what the tourneys are all about, in the end? Spreading the word about great books?)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this topic – Thought about it lately, too. But I think there is more to it than what you pointed out, although I have to agree with you!

    "When on Earth did having the brains to get you and your friends through any situation become a fault? When did being human and giving up for just a moment mean that you are any less of a person? When did kicking butt begin to replace the real definition of heroine? And what does a guy have anything to do with heroine-ism?"
    _____________________

    Yes, when, indeed.


    "But I can't deny that there is an ugly side to the tournament that is beginning to come out. [..] it seems that when it comes to our heroines, we are all very protective and passionate, and it has been cause for some terrible things to be said and feelings to be hurt. I have watched Katniss get slammed, Hermione, Clary, Tessa, Fire, and many others. [..]

    Why are we so openly critical of our heroines? 

    I'm reading these comments, tweets, and blog posts that are comparing heroines based on the amount of trials they have had (been guilty of this one myself), and saying how much worse the other heroine is because she hasn't been through as much; because she first cowered before deciding to fight; because for one moment she gave up; because she doesn't kick butt enough; because the guy in her story isn't as hot as another; because she's only smart, and nothing else."
    ________________________

    This is something I haven't done, I think. Instead, I often dislike these heroines all the more:

    (to be continued!)

    ReplyDelete
  6. They don't feel real. Some authors do it all: Their heroines are survivors of rape, orphans, have a sibling with drug issues (the heroine herself could never have such an UGLY thing after all, she is strong!) you name it.

    Why? Why would readers *want* that?

    I feel horrible when I read these novels. I think: Hey I've only been almost raped by a relative, I have no right to be miserable. (And also, maybe I just imagined things, right?) Same goes for 'Only my dad is gone' or 'I have no real problems whatsoever, why do I smoke?' et cetera. (I know this is not the intention of authors, but this is the first thing I think everytime I read something, anything, about heroines (and heroes) who have gone through so many horrible things.)

    Why do they always need to look on the bright side of life? Do YOU do that? I don't. It makes these heroines horrible Mary Sues. Annoying!

    >> A good example for a heroine that is NOT like that: Charlie from the third Guardian novel by Meljean Brook.

    Btw: Why can heroes be tortured and wary, when heroines are called "weak" as soon as they do all the "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" thing?

    How is life a trial if they don't even think about the things they have to give up in order to do something? How could something be a challenge if it's easy for you to decide to do it and go through with the whole thing? I've never been proud of the fact that I was good in school, because I did not need to learn. It was not a challenge, it was not a trial, there was nothing that made me any better than the rest. I was just luckier. - If you ie. don't fear death, it's not brave to fight. You don't care anyway.

    >> I think Tabitha Suzuma did a great job in Forbidden. (Oh, there are the tears again. Damn..)

    And heroines who don't even hesitate for a moment.. Yes, they might have to fight etc. so there is the physical trial, but it's the emotional work that makes books special to me. The moments where they feel guilty, torn, sad, mad, desperate.

    (to be continued)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Comparing Katniss and Tessa, though. I think you actually should do it. I mean, it is a contest. You need to compare them. Tessa has not been faced with the things Katniss has, so who knows? She might react like Katniss did, if she grew up like her. Because that is what makes Katniss Katniss. But Tessa did not and if you throw both of them in a room, it's obvious who would manage to get out of the room alive. (Then again, I don't have any love left for Tessa anyway, so I'm biased. Katniss all the way. ; ) )

    I don't know, though, why it can't be serious. Serious doesn't equal 'bad' after all. Serious is not insulting. Pointing out that Tessa has fainted on several occasions (I think someone has, I haven't participated in this event so far, but in a review it was said once) is in my opinion a thing everyone is allowed to do. Why not?

    The funniest things are imo also the deepest. But if you can't discuss something, it's shallow. And shallow seldomly is real fun, it's just pretending to think something is funny in order to feel as if you belong to the clique.

    I have a problem with this attitude several people have, lately. First they say blogging is about fun, then they refer to bookblogging as their job, moan about how many reviews they >have to< write. First they say blogging is a great hobby, and that they love talking books, then they don't reply to comments (leaving comments is hard, but answering? Really?) but host three giveaways, each of them requiring you to follow the blogs via GFC. Why? That ain't fun.

    Talking books, serious or not, is.

    Ie this post. I think THIS is what more bloggers should post. I haven't found that many blogs that engage their readers to leave comments.

    But then, most bloggers don't make difference between readers and followers, do they? *sigh*

    That sounded way too negative. :/ Oops?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I find it interesting that the tournament pitting men against men went fine, but pitting women against women is where it got catty. Can it be that we have unrealistic expectations of females in general, and particularly in pop culture?

    And to the person who complained about the seed placements- that's how ALL tournaments are done, whether it be in sports or whatever. The idea is to have the top two competitors duking it out in the last round.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hurrah, well-said! Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Alex: Exactly. We love them so much, it's easy to get carried away. I'm in it for the fun though. :)

    Pam: I do worry about that. I've been trying to tweet less so I don't annoy my followers; there's nothing worse than the same thing over and over in your feed. Lol. About the bracket: it was done the way sports brackets are done; a high seed is placed against a low seed (determined by overall votes before the tournament began). It may not be completely fair, but I must admit that it makes a lot of sense to do it that way.

    Jessica: I hope so too! The tourney is all about fun and good-natured matches, but some of the comments keep bringing out the fire.

    Juju: Thank you! :)

    Me: Yes, that's definitely what it's all about! In fact, because of the tournament, I have read Half-Blood, vowed to give Fire another try, and am about to get myself a copy of the first book in the Soul Screamers series. Definitely good parts of the tourney.

    Patricia: Fantastic points you bring up. I thought about including some of them, but already felt like I was rambling on. Lol. I totally get what you mean about heroes being allowed to be tortured souls. What we see as sexy, tortured, and shy in male characters is often seen as slutty, weak (or psycho), or scared in females. I think this is the very reason the Cruch Tourney had such an upbeat outcome, while this one...doesn't really.

    I also must say that I think it's totally okay to point out character flaws. I do it in my book reviews all the time. Sometimes I just don't like a character and I have to say why. But it's when it becomes less about why that character didn't work for you, and more of personal attack on that character (and anyone who would deign to vote for her) that the line has been crossed. Also, I understand your argument for comparing Katniss to Tessa in a very matter-of-fact way, and I think there are some points there that I could make...but I still won't do it. Maybe earlier on in the tournament, but not now. Call me chicken, but I don't want to add to the fire. :)

    Thanks so much for posting your thoughts! I love it when I find posts that are engaging as well. I'm glad you found this one so. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Whoops! Missed these while I was typing that last comment.

    Jess: Thank you! :)

    Gina: Yes! I love that question. I think we definitely do have unrealistic expectations, and it is really showing. I feel terrible because I've been guilty of it myself, but I want it to change. We are better than that!

    BookishSnob: Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. No, I can see why you wouldn't want to do that, under these circumstances. I just had to say it because it is something that really started to bother me. Even with The Hunger Games - I LOVE these books, but it is as if for some, several, many, people you're transforming to Hitler in a split second when you say you do not love ALL of it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, yeah! I don't like that either. It is totally possible to be a huge fan, and still see the flaws, at the same time. Doesn't make you any less of a fan.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Loved this post and the comments. I completely agree with your sentiments.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is such a good post! I haven't been following the tournament enough to know that it had gotten catty. I don't really get that. Hopefully people try to keep it more fun for the last couple rounds.
    (And too bad Katniss is up against a Cassandra Clare character. I'm sure people are fans of both, but she does spoilers/bonus scenes every time her characters win. That's a lot of incentive to vote for them) :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! I read each and every one, and reply as soon as I can :)

Please note: The Reading Fever is an award-free zone. I am very flattered, but comments are all the thanks I need.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...