Run! Run as fast as you can and hide in the safest place possible! They are coming! Block all the doors and all the windows! They are going to destroy your right perception of the world and change you forever. They are coming! They are… stereotypes!
We are surrounded by them. However, modern society is trying to distance itself from all kinds of misconceptions. It is a good sign. Let`s take a look at literature or movies. Female character stereotypes are flourishing there. We will have a sneak peek at them and decide what is the best choice for your story: female or male leading character. No bellicose feminist flubdub, I promise. Only facts.
Who Is Heavier on the History Scales?
The balance between female and male characters is simply nonexistent. Hey, balance, where are you? I think it`s pretty obvious that stories with leading men tend to be more popular and they are welcomed by the audience in a much warmer way. To figure out the reason let`s look through history, shall we?
The first ever stories which future generations could see in the written form are mostly legends, myths, and epics about national heroes. Remember Heracles, Prometheus, Odysseus? Great, brave and strong Greek heroes who represent the history and culture of their country. Or, remember… Hold on, let`s stop right here. You got the gist. There were almost no (yes, almost, because you may say that there were legends about Amazons and Joan of Arc and others badass ladies who set an example throughout the history, but we will come back to them later, deal?) female characters.
So, there were almost no female characters in ancient stories or any other story right until the 19th century when female characters were back on literary track. Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre and many more became the symbols of the new era of the art of writing. It still can`t be compared to the number of male protagonists in stories.
The explanation is simple. Women were no brave soldiers, dangerous pirates, adventurous travelers or powerful leaders until a certain breaking point in human history. So, it`s hard now to track all mentions of leading ladies in stories written back then. How about now?
Dear DNA, No Offense, But You Are So Wrong
There is a spur of female characters everywhere: in comics (Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn), books (Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger). However, we couldn`t help but noticed that a solid bunch of those women are pictured as sidekicks of the leading man, like Joker or Harry Potter. We can explain that phenomenon from the psychological point of view.
Stereotypes of society are one thing. But biology is the whole other thing. Yes, our DNA plays a leading role in our perception of males and females. See what I did there? What a reference! Sticking to the point, our subconscious depicts the right situation in society, which we see from the historical perspective.
Don`t blame me, it`s just how the evolution works! There is no point of denying the fact that women had a role of mothers, gatherers and basically housewives, or “cavewives” to be precise. This image has stuck in our genetic code and is not going to leave anytime soon.
This is why male characters are being portrayed as fearless heroes with fire in their eyes. It`s like they are programmed to be that way. However, let`s not forget that we are human beings – strong creatures on the top of the evolutionary ladder. It seems dangerous and rather impossible to change our DNA, but it`s possible to make certain alterations to our consciousness.
There are so many of those? Where do I start? Recently, the growing dissatisfaction is becoming more and more obvious in the world of the famous and fabulous. Actresses and even actors are protesting against the image of women in movies.
Every film which has a leading female character receives a closer attention from critics and viewers. If it`s a good film, then it receives tumultuous applause from the audience. Let`s not forget that half of the audience are ladies.
Oh, the Spirit of Charlotte Bronte, Suggest the Right Solution!
So, you have two paths here. We have told you about certain asperities of choosing either male or female as the main hero of your story. According to psychology, women are more likely to accept female characters positively and men prefer seeing their gender as the protagonists.
If the final destination of your writing is getting that desirable A+, you may create a story in accordance with gender of your teacher (it seems like a hard task especially when you were skipping all those classes, didn`t you?). Or you may work hard for the sake of literary art and write a story which everybody is going to love with a guy as a leading character. Man as the main hero will automatically give you a head start.
However, by including female character as the leader of your narrative, you will most certainly get a positive feedback from your audience for using unusual angle and perspective. On top of that, there are so many fresh and creative ways of depicting the female character while a lot of men heroes have turned into clichés because of abundant use by authors.
Here you go. Some of the reasons “to be or not be”. It seems to be from another story. Got it! Some of the reasons “to choose or not to choose” women or men as the leading characters in your story. Who knows, maybe one day your literary creation will become classic and will be quoted by someone like me.