There has been a lot of discussion in the media over the last few years about what makes a strong female character.
Of course, some that come to mind automatically for most would be Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, or Hermione from Harry Potter (side note: I’ve never read any Harry Potter books, but I’m going off what I’ve garnered about the series from others). Readers often cite Katniss as a strong female lead, because she’s good at kicking butt and taking names. Hermione is designated as a strong female lead due to her intellect and (again, what I speculate) maybe her fighting skills too.
I am all for strong female leads in literature, but today I’d like to look farther than the strong female stereotype of having a STEM hobby/career, being able to fight, and standing for modern feminist beliefs. To me personally, one trait tops all of the above for a strong female lead: perseverance.
Defined, the word perseverance means, “steadfast in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. To me, this is one of the most defining characteristics a strong female character should have, though it’s often overshadowed if she’s interested in STEM subjects, a modern feminist, or can fight. Personally, I’m much more impressed by a female character who is a domestic housewife who actively cares for a special needs child despite the kid’s growing health problems and financial struggles than a female who can code her way out of any problem with ease.
As a woman with a STEM job, I can attest that I didn’t have as much of a “struggle” earning my degree and getting a job in the MIS field as the media often makes it appear for women. I’m not saying the struggle isn’t there for everyone, but it was not nearly as bad as the media convinced me it may be before I started college.
Girls, like boys, can do anything they set their mind to. I wish the media would stop depicting certain aspects (i.e. fighting, science, technology) as “stronger” characteristics than those that are considered “girly” like cooking, tending to children, home making, etc. Perseverance, overall, should define a strong character of either gender. There are so many possibilities outside of the media’s stereotype that I wish were further explored in modern literature:
- A Christian woman seeking to abide by God’s commandments despite worldly opposition
- A woman who faces a moral dilemma and fights for the truth to be exposed overall
- A girl who is shown opposition by the career of her choice (STEM or not) and persists to achieve her dreams (ex: an author who receives over a hundred manuscript rejections who keeps honing her craft and ends up being a bestselling author).
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
What defines a strong female character to you? Let me know in the comments!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.