Stereotype Busting: The Token Chick

While I love a well-written strong female character, and appreciate that women get better roles in rip-roaring adventure stories these days than we used to, I’d rather have a story with no women than with badly written ones.  Most guys probably feel the same way about romance novel men.

Top 5 most annoying things in a token, stereotyped “strong female” character:

1.  She’s always right.  No way is anyone always right, and making a token strong female character always right just makes her annoying.

2.  She’s the only woman in the world, somehow.  All the men in the story are interested in her.  Sure, most people are attracted to confidence and strength, but if she’s the only confident, strong woman around, then she’s clearly just a token to equality and not a real person at all, which defeats the purpose of having a token to equality in the first place and gives you a lousy character.

3.  She’s got to be pretty.  Really?  Always?  We can have guy heroes who are scarred up, fat, or funny-looking yet somehow charming in spite of it, but our heroines have to be slim, young, and pretty?  Get over it.  Charlotte Bronte already proved you can have a good heroine without good looks with Jane Eyre, and that was in 1847.  Especially since it’s a book.  No one is going to see your heroine unless you hit it big and get movie rights, in which case they’ll have someone pretty play her, anyway, no matter what you wrote.

4.  She’s either 100% good and pure or

5.  She’s 100% ruthless and cruel.  Either way, she’s a lousy character, and I don’t know that being an aggressive, hateful person is the same thing as being a strong person.  Nor is being stupidly naive and just pretty enough to get away with it.

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