Why is every female main book character so stupid?
Katniss never realised what the fuck is going on around her
Ruby thinks she’s a monster but her powers are awesome and everyone would want powers like that and she could save the world like million times and she didn’t
Tris is a freaking idiot
Hazel is a cruel bitch who friendzoned dying and handsome guy
Ana Steele is another cruel bitch
Elena Gilbert’s min is just too slow to even exist
Tell me why
Well… maybe the problem is equally how you’re reading them and the situations they’re in? Because it’s easy to judge characters by our personal standards and forget that they (usually) exist in a unique set of circumstances outside of ours. For example: “friendzoning” someone never makes a girl a “cruel bitch,” no matter the circumstances because whether or not you agree with her, it’s her right to choose. (If you’ve never been accused of “friendzoning” someone, then, wow, you are lucky. As DanRad said, the concept is a male idea.) And in Ruby’s situation, yeah I’m sure everyone would want those powers… if they could control them, which Ruby can’t for basically the entire first book and struggles even into the second.
Look, normally I would never comment on a post like this, but I always want to stand up for my girls. I’m genuinely tired of seeing female characters raked over the coals, or being labeled “stupid” or a “bitch” for having emotional moments, making mistakes, picking the “wrong” guy, being so distracted by trying to survive and save her family she misses the secret conspiracy around her, etc.
One of my absolute favorite shows/mangas growing up was Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. Our heroine, Usagi, lives a double life as a normal school girl who struggles with grades, her family, her friends, and her love life… while also saving the world at night. She got bad grades, constantly struggled with her self-esteem, was a mega klutz, makes bad choices, was probably way too trusting, and cried. Like, all the time. If you’re only reading her at that level, she fits into your definition of being “stupid.” But I would argue that she’s one of the most beloved female characters of all time specifically because she’s relatable. She’s compassionate, silly, and always finds the inner strength to pick herself back up again—not an easy thing when battling monsters.
Look, obviously characters do stupid things, but it’s generally so they can learn from them—and this isn’t something that’s unique to female characters. They are misguided at times, traumatized (not something a character can realistically get over in thirty pages, no matter how impatient a reader might feel), and sometimes just pissed off or heartbroken. These are the things that make them human; many people read for the fantasy of it, looking for some escape from the reality of people being dumb in every day life, but, trust me, the opposite of a “stupid” character (as you’ve dubbed them) is a Mary Sue. And holy crap, is that so much worse. Starting off with a character who only ever makes the right choices, who is never not strong and perfect and flawless, who always is at the ready with a funny response, who never mistreats or misunderstands the male hero the readers love is le boring. People are not flat lines.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and Lord knows that reading is, like 60% of what the author gives you and 40% what the reader brings to it when they sit down and open the pages. It’s a subjective and personal experience. But I would strongly encourage you and everyone else to read Sophia McDougall’s article from last year, “Why I Hate Strong Female Characters" and Chuck Wendig’s "On the Subject of ‘Strong Female Characters’" if you already haven’t.
- Fan fiction with fluff: Read in the corner of your bed with all the lights off at midnight while you giggle and blush
- Fan fiction with smut: Read in very public places or with family with a perfectly straight face