Lately, there’s been a lot of fuss about feminism. It is supposedly too extreme and feminists are ‘against’ men. But what does feminism exactly mean? I looked it up. “Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women.” [source: wikipedia]. Reading this closely, feminism only means that all sexes should be treated equal. EQUALITY. This said, feminism doesn’t mean that woman think they are better or more important than men. Some ‘guy’ must have thought that up. (giggles).
What about feminism in books? Are there any kick-ass female characters in young adult books these days? Is there a notable development with in this genre? And more important: can we rank feminism? I think we can. On a scale from Bella to Katniss, how much of a feminist are you?
1. Without a guy, my life sucks
Character: Bella Swan
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Summary: Bella Swan, moving from Phoenix (hot, sunny) to Forks (cold, wet and always clouded) feels different from her friends. When she meets the strange but attractive Edward, she falls in love head over heels. She thinks of him every minute of the day, and he even appears in her dreams (well, he actually is in her room when she sleeps, so what’s creepier?). Fortunately, Edwards feels the same way, even though he’s a blood sucking, shining vampire. Bella loves him so much she almost kills herself to be with him when he leaves in New Moon (Twilight #2). SPOILER! Nah. Anyways, Bella does develop during the story. In Eclipse (Twilight #3) she finally shows some feminism: she hits the werewolf Jacob in the face (breaking her hand, which isn’t very heroic, but she tried). In the last part of the series, Breaking Dawn, Bella finally shows some bad-ass characteristics, but over all, Bella’s not really a female kick-ass character.
2. Nice try, but who saves the day? The guy (or… angel)
Character: Luce Price
Author: Lauren Kate
Summary: Luce Price is sent to boarding school when she was suspected to be involved in an accident that killed her friend Trevor. Not sure what to think of Sword & Cross (wut?), she makes some friends but never lets them get too close. And then she meets Daniël. Daniël oh Daniël. Beautiful fallen angel, we love you. Uh, I mean, Luce falls in love with you. For the… (let me think) 84390 time? I don’t know how he does it, but Daniël stays with her, when all Luce does is forget him after she remembers him and dies? For about a billion centuries! Yes, she lives, falls in love, dies. She lives, falls in love, remembers, dies. She lives, falls in love, remembers and dies again. She can’t live without Daniël (even the color of her hair is influenced by the guy). Luckily, Luce is very stubborn and after Daniël sends her away to another ‘boarding school’, she decides she can make decisions on her own. She does things Daniël doesn’t want her to do because it is too dangerous. You go girl! I just wish you thought it through better… At least you have Daniël to save you at the end.
3. Get yourself together and kick some (faerie)asses
Character: Meghan Chase
Book: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Summary: Meghan lives in a house in a ‘swamp’ with her mother, her adopter father, her half brother and her dog. When one day her half brother gets kidnapped and her best friend turns out to be a famous book character, Meghan has to leave her save world behind to save Ethan, her 4 year old half brother. Together with Puck, best friend, she enters Nevernever, the faerie world. There she meets her biological father: king Oberon of the Summer Court. Wow, Meghan, you’re a princes. Not that she cares, she’s whining all the time, doing stupid things and never quits hating on everybody. All she wants is to get Ethan back and return to the real world. It all changes after an attack on the Summer Court during the Elysium, and she leaves with Puck. Chased by Pucks ex-bestfriend and Winter Court’s prince Ash, they try to find and save Ethan. Meghan falls in love with Ash (he loves her too, not kidding), only to be saved by him several times. Finally she finds her brother, defeats the Iron King and returns to the real world. I’m not going to spoil more, but during the second book Meghan cries a lot and is very confused, but finds herself being stronger than she thought. I loved Meghan the most in the third book, when she kicks some real asses and knows what she wants and when she wants it. She shows that character development can really be possible and at the end, she’s the hero. Not the guy.
4. Stubbornness or bad ass? Anyway, you go high girl!
Character: Tris Prior
Author: Veronica Roth
Summary: Being born in the Abnegation faction, Tris never gets to chose herself over anybody else. She’s selfless, but not as much as everybody thinks she is. After the aptitude test, Tris finds out she’s Divergent, which means her aptitude test was inconclusive. She is told that people want to kill people like her. Being Divergent is dangerous, and Tris doesn’t want to die. At the Choosing Ceremony, she switches to Dauntless (fearless and bad ass) to start a new life. In the beginning, it’s all kind of scary. But during the first book, she learns how to stand tall and she actually develops literal and figurative muscles. Although Tris really needs Four, she sexy Dauntless guy, she knows how to keep her head up in a game that she’d rather not play. She forms a great team with her man, full of feminism. Though sometimes I feel she’s just being really really really stubborn, I believe she’s the kinda girl that gets where she wants to be.
5. Rocking feminism, saving the world
Character: Katniss Everdeen
Book: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Summary: Do we even need a summary? This girl volunteered to practically die for her sister in some horrible game called ‘The Hunger Games’. Also, she don’t want to be turned in someone she’s not, trying to survive for her sister. Even when a guy tells her he loves her, she doesn’t. She can’t. She needs to fight fight fight. And she wins, she survives. Of course (I mean: thank the Lord), Peeta, the guy (sweet, cute, funny, caring…) survives too. Being both victors, they are the new puppets of the Capitol, touring through the districts, waving and smiling. But even after Katniss earns a very expensive home and food, she still hunts with Gale. She still fights against the Capitol. She stands up against the people who hurt her beloved ones. She stands up for what she believes in and THAT’S what feminism is about. She wants to be treated equal. She don’t want pity, she don’t want to be a princess of a part of the Capitols parade. No, she just wants to be a normal girl. At the end, she is the face of the rebellion. She’s the one everybody looks up to and believes in. Katniss is a bad ass, putting everybody in place. And still, she’s JUST Katniss. If that isn’t feminism, what is? At the end, she saves the day. She saves herself, Peeta, most of her family (sobbing) and not to forget Panem. Katniss, we thank you for showing us that girls are strong without a guy next to her. Thank you for showing is that you can love a guy, but can still be a strong person. Katniss, the world thanks you.
So… one a scale from Bella to Katniss; how much of a feminist are you?