After reading Foundation and the absurdity of having only one woman in it and that only very briefly, it was serendipitous that I came across not just a great article at Tor deconstructing the strong female character in science fiction, but also a most excellent link from the always wonderful Ana to an article about why we need more unlikeable female characters (careful, this article has links to other articles discussing similar topics, you might fall down the rabbit hole like I did).
All these articles basically come down to saying the same thing: women characters should be allowed the full spectrum of humanness and not be pigeon-holed into a few types. And I bet you know what those types are so I’m not even going to bother listing them. It’s so bad that when Claire Messud dared to write a book with an unlikeable woman protagonist she got all kinds of grief about it. If Messud were a man and the protagonist male, I doubt there would have even been much discussion about it.
That this whole conversation about female characters has been going on for so long and continues to go on because it is still a problem is disheartening. Freud famously asked once what women want. My answer to his question: to be human beings. Because that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Far too often female characters are defined solely by their being female. It sure would be nice to have characters who are human beings, and, oh yeah, also happen to be female. Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. We are all from Earth; we are all human; we all want to be treated as such in real life and in fiction.
So give me female characters who kick ass, who runaway in fear, who rule the universe, who are afraid to walk out the front door, who are lovable, who are hatable, who I want to hug, who I want to punch in the face, who are mothers, who have no children and aren’t sad about that, who are old, who are young, who are beautiful, who are ugly, who like men, who like women, who don’t know who they like, who are all the colors of the rainbow, who are smart, who are dumb, who are — you get the picture — human.