When considering female stereotypes, the publishing arena hasn’t been kind to its female characters. When they are not completely forgotten or discarded in favor of the myriads of male characters, they are utilized in a manner that is nothing short of insulting.
Admittedly, female characters, especially protagonists, have come quite a long way over the years. However, there is still a long way to go before they can begin attracting the same fair treatment as their male counterparts.
Female Stereotypes to Avoid
Female stereotypes have run their course in literature, and it is high time writers learn to expel them from their works. The easiest way to avoid female stereotypes is to know what they are in the first place. ChatEbooks lists down some of the most common female stereotypes that you may want to avoid.
The Brave Chick
Several years back, it was determined that the world had run out of patience for wimpy females. These are girls and women that brought nothing to the table besides weeping and waiting for the male hero to save them. In their attempt to remedy this issue, authors began writing the butt-kicking female protagonist, a concept that has now become a stereotype all on its own.
The problem – writers have become so determined to stray from the idea of the soft female hero that they have essentially begun writing men with breasts. Their female characters have been stripped of every attribute and character trait commonly associated with their gender. The truth is, a female protagonist can both be gun-savvy and feminine and her depth should be embraced not sacrificed. So showcase her personality and avoid a cold, bland characterization. The bottom line – the solution for making your female characters strong is NOT to make them as male as possible.
The Mary Sue
Mary Sue is a concept that was popular in literature several decades back and has slowly begun to make a comeback. Mary Sues are written to personify an author’s idea of the perfect woman, and she embodies perfection in every sense of the word. Such female characters are often kind to a fault, forgiving in all situations, divinely beautiful and beloved by everyone they meet. They can do no wrong which makes their unrealistic nature unrelateable to readers. Mary Sues are not real characters; and in a sense, they are written by authors unwilling to inject more complexity into their female characters. Try making sure your female protagonist is balanced and is as talented and capable as her peers.
The Anti-Mary Sue
Writers should avoid the anti-Mary Sues of female stereotypes as well. The anti-Mary Sue stereotype is often characterized as someone weak, boring, plain/ugly, clumsy, uninteresting, traumatized, and the list goes on and on. This type of character is depicted as dreadfully awkward – constantly tripping, falling down and hurting themselves because of their own actions. Authors should keep in mind that it’s perfectly okay to create a strong and powerful woman and not bask in her off-putting characteristics.
The Dream Girl
Proving particularly irksome these days, even more irritating than a Mary Sue, is the Dream Girl. This is the female individual whose sole purpose is to support the men in her life. Dream girls often have quirky attributes that endear them to every man they meet. They have no particular objectives of their own and their lives instead revolve around the male protagonist of the story. These female characters are, on a whole, irrelevant as distinct individuals to a story. In the end, they do not make for very interesting reading.
The Damsel in Distress
The most hated of female stereotypes in literature today is the Damsel in Distress – someone who is essentially a female character who exists only to be rescued by the male protagonist. This means they spend the run of the story entangled in predicaments that only the male hero can save them from. She literally just stands there, waiting to be rescued, often screaming or acting helpless and does nothing else. Damsels in Distress have no relevance today, and the inclusion of such female characters is bound to turn a lot of people off.
The Slut is probably the only female stereotype that is as despised as the Damsel in Distress. This is a female character defined primary by her sexual appeal. The majority of female characters in literature today skirt this stereotype in combination with other stereotypes, such as the crone (who hates everyone and only exists to cause harm) and the Queen Bee (who has an alpha personality and dominates in business and social settings). This stereotype persists largely because of certain erroneous perceptions about women that still persist today. Not surprisingly, however, this stereotype enjoys considerable interest among some readers, especially men.
Female stereotypes paint their female characters using a single trait or attribute. On the contrary, real people embody a variety of personalities and traits. Writing your female characters as though they are real people will make them more relatable to your readers.