I received a link to the same article from both a student and my agent. I love being the person that people send wolf stories too - particularly stories about werewolves and gender wars. Life is good.
Over the past few days there's been an interesting flurry of tweets (#genderinYA) and posts about sex and power written by authors I admire like Sarah Rees Brennan, who not only writes excellent books, but also great essays like this one.
The online discussions I've seen lately have been about writers, characters, and readers - about what's popular, what's 'real,' and what's desirable, about 'girl books' vs. 'boy books' and what responsibility authors have in creating their characters to reach those prescribed audiences.
I posted in Monday's Q&A that if forced to choose I'd pick Buffy over Supernatural because the latter show doesn't have enough strong female characters. But what does strong mean?
You don't have to be Buffy to be strong, strength comes in many forms. Do I like a super-powered, butt kicking female protagonist? Heck yeah, just wait till you meet Calla. But that type of strength isn't the only one I like or value. Maybe a better word than strong would be 'substance,' I want characters in a show, both male and female to have substance - to be more than placeholders.
The same goes for writing.
I do think it's invaluable when writers create MCs that are models of substance for readers. Characters that have wants, needs, problems and the tools to face them - whether those tool are ninja skills or self-introspection.
That substance, no matter its form, is essential though - and as many of these discussions pointed out, the playing field for girl and boy MCs is not level. Girl MCs - like real girls - often get away with offering little substance and are critiqued for having too much (read substance, see power).
The same goes with bad boys. I don't have a problem with bad boys. They are good fun in books, movies, etc. But do we allow bad girls to play the same role? I'd argue no. Actually let's make that a NO. While bad boys still get to be heroes - usually saved by the good girl protagonist, bad girls are always villains, and usually meet their 'deserved' bad ending by a novel's conclusion?
Is this right? Is it fair? Again I'd say NO.
I'm curious as to what you think makes a 'strong' MC in a novel. And what are your thoughts about the appeal of bad boys versus the absence of bad girls?