Most stories are about boys and for boys, or about men and for men. Think of the classics, like Oliver Twist or The Count of Monte Cristo, then think of more recent popular stories like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Tangerine. The books I remember reading in high school were all about boys–A Separate Peace, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, and on and on and on.
I have two sons and two daughters, and my wife and I would like all our kids to be able to relate directly to the books they read and the movies they see. Of course, girls can enjoy books about boys, but it doesn’t seem fair that 98% of the stories are about boys. If you have any doubts that we live in a heavily male-centered society, go to the bookstore and try to find great stories about girls.
With that in mind, here is a shakedown of some recent and not-so-recent stories with female characters:
Wired: Hermione Granger is brilliant, hardworking, a fierce friend, and a good person.
Tired: Ultimately, the Harry Potter series is about Harry. Hermione can kick more butt than Harry, and definitely more than Ron, but she never really gets to shine because she’s trapped in a boy’s story. The major characters are Harry, Dumbledore, and Snape.
Wired: Kate Weatherall is resourceful, brave, immensely talented, with an outstanding attitude. Bravo.
Tired: Like Hermione, Kate is stuck inside a boy’s story. Ultimately, these books are about Reynie, Mr. Benedict, and Mr. Curtain.
Tired: Bella Swan? Puh-leeze. She doesn’t do anything, and I cannot understand why she has both a hunky vampire and a hunky werewolf pursuing her, except for her delectable body odor. She’s passive, wishy-washy, and downright drippy, not a role model I want for my girls.
Wired: We’re getting a little old for this movie, but the kids put it on in the car the other day. It is a realistic portrayal of a brave, independent heroine who is strong and true to herself despite an overwhelmingly male-centric society. Highly recommended.
Wired: As director Ang Lee noted, this story has not one but three strong female characters. Although it might be dressed up like a martial arts film, it is really an epic love story. My kids aren’t quite old enough for this yet, but I’m looking forward to introducing it to them.
Use the comments to add your own wired or tired stories for girls.