Adult Fiction · Children's & Middle Grade · Comics · YA

Where to Find Strong Female Characters

We Are All Wonder Women
Prints available on Etsy.

I don’t always like to lump things together based on a trait like “being about a woman.” However, after a Ms. Marvel post a while back, I got to looking at my bookshelves. I realized that even with all my ranting, I don’t necessarily have all that many items that are about women. So, I looked through my lists of favorite things and put together a list of the ones about a woman or women. Sometimes it’s fun to check out a list of things based on one factor and see how they compare and contrast, so I’ve put together lists of movies, comics, TV shows, and books I can recommend, and I’ll be posting one a day starting tomorrow. These aren’t feminist movies and books, or stories with “lessons” I’m approving… This isn’t even as comprehensive a list of my favorite things as I’d like. These are just stories I love that jumped out at me, that happen to have female protagonists or female points of view.

The main thing I learned from this exercise is I’ve read an awful lot of books with female second-most-important characters, but very few where the woman is in the central or POV role. I decided to limit it this way because there are awesome female characters in a lot of places, but so many of them blend together for me because they end up these token “awesome woman” characters as seen through a male gaze — and also because these lists would be enormous if I just counted all the women I liked! If there is a common denominator, especially with the TV shows, it’s showing a variety of women in the same series. There are some gimmes, like The Hunger Games and Frozen, but also some things y’all may not be familiar with and that you might like.

I want to pay more attention to this in future, so please leave your recommendations in the comments, especially if they’re nothing like the ones on the list! The “rules,” like being from a female POV, are really more like guidelines, if ya know what I mean.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Summary, I’ll be hosting the Feminist Friday discussion this week on the topic of Strong Female Characters in general and whether or not characters affect culture, so be sure to check that out on Friday, and check back in just a few minutes for a list of movie recommendations!

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13 thoughts on “Where to Find Strong Female Characters

  1. Too often, I find secondary characters more appealing 😦 They seem quirkier, louder, more self-assured and interesting – but can also grate, I guess :S And in that case, if the MC is like this, there is nowhere to hide – especially with first person I’ve always wanted to know if it’s because it happens that way naturally or whether author’s prefer to keep the main character more ‘neutral’.

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    1. That’s a great point! I’ve been getting into the romance genre this summer, and especially there I’ve noticed that I tend to prefer background characters to the main couple. The coworker who’s been encouraging the romance kick says that’s because the main couple tend to be a little more neutral (good word, better than the “bland” I would’ve gone for) so that readers can paste themselves/their ideal mates into those roles. I haven’t noticed it so much in other genres, but you may be on to something.

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      1. Haha I really had to think on that word. I was going to go for vanilla….maybe that’s why I tend to go for urban fantasies. The protags seem to be quite feisty. But then again, if I don’t connect with her I stop reading. They can be pretty over the top and there’s a fine line.

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  2. The Help is one of my favorite female-centered books, and Orange is the New Black one of my favorite female-centered TV shows. Both are quite popular, which is nice, but I know a lot of men personally who scoff at them BECAUSE of their predominantly female characters and “female” plots.

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  3. Where is “the list”? I would love to read it. Off the top of my head, I know of an excellent dystopian series called The Outsider Chronicles by Kayti Nika Raet, led by her (badass) female protagonist, Niko.

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