Teen Lit: The New Feminist Playground

18 Apr

As far as feminism has come, I feel as though I am reminded daily that it is still necessary to promote the female voice. And, as someone who studies literature, I am constantly seeking out portrayals of women and girls that are not only positive, but promote characters that help redefine how society considers women.

And where have I found some of the most compelling new female characters? Teen and Young Adult (YA)  lit.

Katniss art via.

Literary snobs may roll their eyes but characters like Tally Youngblood and, of course, Katniss Everdeen (picture above), could not only wipe the floor with a certain sparkly-vampire-loving-Bella (and yes, I’ve read that too), but they’d be intelligent about it.

What I love about these characters is that they’re not perfect and they’re not expected to be. And, in my opinion most importantly, while their stories do involve romantic storylines, they do not disappear into their feelings about the opposite sex, or rely on said male-figure to save them. Instead, and I think especially of Katniss here, we see a deep querying of what it means to want a romantic (or any) relationship with someone and why we form relationships at all; and that’s an important question for any person at any age.

I’m about to attend the first ever meeting of a conference called “Pippi to Ripley: Heroines of Fantasy and Science Fiction,” for more info look here.

While I will be talking about Whedon, I’m excited to hear many more people talk about these characters and more like them. In some part, large or small, the conversations we have about why we love these texts will be the starting grounds of new texts. Texts that celebrate not just women but everyone, and how much that kicks ass.

Also, as an extra point, I’m looking forward to the movie that is in the works for the “Hunger Games,” series as well. Though I have yet to see “Winter’s Bone,” after watching the following trailer I’m quite happy that the lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, has been cast as Katniss.

I don’t think it’s too much to say that times are tough everywhere (Hell, it’s the middle of April and Michigan just got two inches of snow!) and, all jokes aside, people of all ages need to see images of strength and endurance in our entertainment. Images that will inspire and demand the best from us as individuals and communities.

Thankfully, some of those images will be of strong women and girls. Because we can totally kick ass. Seriously.


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