“Strong female character” is a phrase we’ve heard time and time again in the past few years. Whether it’s a movie or a book, there’s a push for strong females. And for good reason. After years of wallpaper women, it was a fresh breath of air to see women with personality, with strength and spunk. But is strong the new cliche?
We all know what makes a “Strong woman” in fiction. Women who defy the rules, do their own thing, don’t need a man to save them, etc. The list goes on and on, doesn’t it?
I think those are all great things if the character warrants it.
But I think the strong female character is on her way to becoming a cliche. And maybe I’ll write a post on why I think you need cliched characters later on, but today, we’re tackling the strong female.
Maybe it’s because of my own personal life, but it kind of irritates me when people say I’m strong.
No, I’m actually not. I don’t think of myself as strong at all. I get nicks in my armor all the time. Maybe in a way, I don’t want to be strong – and something I don’t want for myself is something I don’t think I could expect my characters to want.
Everyone wants a strong female character, but is strong at risk of becoming the next cliche? Click To Tweet
Instead of being strong, I’ve always loved the idea of being resilient. There’s something that’s almost more powerful in it – being able to admit you’ll fall apart, but you can still put the pieces back together.
I think of Cassie as resilient. If you’ve read The Assassin you know that she goes through a lot at the end of that book. Attempts are made on her life. She breaks emotionally.
But she gets back up and keeps going because she’s resilient. And yes, part of being resilient is having the strength to get back up and put yourself back together.
Resilience shows depth, the ability to be weak and strong. The knowledge that sometimes, yes, dammit, the girl needs the guy to save her, but at the same time, she’ll save him when she needs to.
Maybe this is the process of becoming a stereotype or cliche, but “strong” just feels so one-dimensional to me. Resilience is so much more than just being strong.
I don’t want to build strong female characters where they’re always the same. I want to build resilient female characters who can change and adapt, but be two different things at once.
Yes, “Strong” and “resilient” are just semantics, but don’t our characters deserve so much more?