Hello, lovelies! Happy International Women’s Day!! I hope you get to celebrate this day with all the great women in your life (be them real or fictional – because we’re bookworms, after all).
Today I decided to talk about something that is suitable for this celebration – I’m going to talk about female characters and why we don’t like them when they aren’t likable.
I really loved how Laura Sebastian talked about unlikable female characters and how she reasoned that we call them unlikable because they’re complex and not just their male counterparts. She also has a great point about how we rarely call a male character – unlikable, most of the times if two characters (one female, one male) have the same traits, people end up loving the male character and having mixed feelings about the female character. Which sounds a lot like a double standard to me. If you want to read Laura Sebastian’s full article, check it out here.
To be honest, when I think about an unlikable female character, I think about a three-dimensional character, someone who is very ambitious, who doesn’t let others walk all over her, who gets what she wants. For me, this label isn’t negative, at all. But the semantics tell a total different story. Why are we calling her unlikable and not ambitious or combative or whatever? I have a love-hate relationship with the term because of that, I’ve used this one for both women and men in the past, but it’s very difficult not to see how much more used it is for female characters. Mostly because there’s this expectation that female characters and women (too!) have to be agreeable, likable, they might be strong, but they still have to be nice if they want the society’s approval. If she’s not nice, she’s a bitch and
we don’t like bitches.
That’s why I want to put under discussion this whole thing. I usually use this term when I want to clap back to an author for writing a raw, powerful representation of a woman that gets her way, that is unapologetic and doesn’t care about what other people say of her journey. We need more of these women because we need to get the notion that women have to agreeable all the time out of our system. It’s okay to not be agreeable or nice. It’s even needed, many times. I’m not talking here about becoming an asshole, but sometimes this notion about being likable is so rooted in women’s minds that they can’t even defend themselves. I want every woman to be able to stand up for what she believes in without having to worry about how she might be categorized as a bitch by a society that can’t help praise men for everything they hate in women.
So, that’s why we need more ‘unlikable’ female characters that get their ways because they’re helping women in real life understand that it’s absolutely alright not to be likable. It’s alright for them to have all the traits that society admires in men from being courageous, ambitious to being confident and not caring about what other people think of them.
Now it’s totally okay if you don’t like some of these characters, but if you enjoy all unlikable male characters and you hate every unlikable female character, then you might have a double standard problem. Better start questioning your reasons for holding those views.
This day is dedicated to all women of all races and sexualities, cis or trans, abled or disabled, of all shapes and sizes, likable or unlikable, you’re all amazing and you MATTER. Your opinion matters, your voice is everything, so don’t let them silence you, ever.
Now to my favourite ‘unlikable’ female characters that you’ll all be inspired by to do whatever you want and smash the patriarcy :
I’ll conclude this discussion with a quote by the amazing Gillian Flynn, which I think it’s pretty fitting for this subject :
Happy Women’s Day to all of you!
#girlpower is real, don’t ever forget that!
Where do you stand when it comes to unlikable female characters? Do you want to see more of them in the books? What are your favourites?