A few weeks ago in my English class, a student asked, “Why are all the books we’re reading this year written by women?”
I thought to myself that this question wouldn’t be asked if we were reading books written by men, like we usually do.
The representation of women in the media is important and influential. Women in literature are especially important, whether they are characters or authors. Women are grossly underrepresented in the media and it’s time we changed that.
An example of why feminism is needed in the media, especially in the literary world, is that J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was told by her publicist to use the pen name J.K. Rowling because if she were to use her full name, Joanne Rowling, she would not sell as many books because women do not sell as many books as men as a result of society’s prejudices against their gender. Women are still not equal to men in this day but equality can be achieved step by step if we take the necessary steps.
Young girls and boys need female characters that they can look up to. Young girls as well as young boys need to know that female characters can achieve just as much as male characters can. It is important for children as well as adults to see the potential of female characters.
The majority of main characters in books are male. Female characters are usually used as minor characters or love interests. When female characters are love interests, they are reduced to just that. They become surface-level characters, who exist solely to be a love interest.
On the occasion that female characters are well developed or portrayed as strong, they are detached, unemotional, and cold. If women are to be strong, they are not allowed to have any emotions because they are considered to be a sign of weakness. An example of this is Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins She is a strong female character yet she shows little to no emotion. If she was head over heels in love with Peeta or Gale, would she still be considered to be a “strong female character?”
Joss Whedon, the director of The Avengers was asked, “So, why do you write these strong female characters? to which, he replied “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
Feminism is still relevant today– issues of equality still exist and will continue to exist unless we do something about it. People in the media such as authors and directors have the power to create complex characters who can defy gender and social norms and to break the barrier of inequality.
-Sarah B., 12th grade