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  • Writer's pictureNJ Holden

Female protagonists

I have a confession to make: I don’t like female protagonists in fantasy.

I know, shocking; especially given that I’m, at least technically, a woman. But I have my reasons. Two of them, actually.

First, the characters themselves are often insufferable. Many of them can be classified as Mary Sues: they’re awesome for the sake of being awesome and everyone loves them because reasons. Don’t get me wrong, there are also male Mary Sues (ahem ahem, Kvothe, ahem ahem), but female ones are much more prevalent.

Whether they’re Mary Sues or not, they can still be divided into only a handful of categories:

1. Fiesty Moron – will literally walk into an active volcano because SHE WON’T HAVE A MAN TELL HER WHAT TO DO. Because of plot reasons, she will survive and come on top, no matter how stupid her actions are.

2. Whiny Bitch – will spend the entire novel whining, crying, and contemplating.

3. Fake Hero – is supposed to be a great fighter, but will still require a man to save her all the time.

4. Bitch Bitch – is absolutely nasty to everyone for no reason, other than “not being like the other girls”, but we’re still expected to sympathize with her.

My second reason is the plot. Most female-led books lean heavily into romance, which I hate. If the book blurb starts with:

“She is (…)

He is (…)”

I know I won’t have a good time. I couldn’t care less if some lass is going to end up with her love. I read fantasy for adventure, magic, and grand plots that involve fates of entire kingdoms. If all of that gets sidelined for the sake of romance, I’m not a happy reader.

And yes, I do read MM romance. I do it for the smut plot. Besides, standard romance sooner or later falls into the trap of gender-roles, while in MM I have just two guys having fun.

If the plots are not about romance, they’re about the struggle of awesome (read: Mary Suish) women in men’s world. Look, I’m a mentally unstable, socially retarded twat. I would be marginalized even if the world was ruled by Amazons. Your plight of being too awesome to be acknowledged is about as relatable to me as the plight of moisture farmers. There's nothing wrong with it, I'm just not your target audience.

(There are also more ambitious stories about women, that center around reproduction, because what is a woman if not a gun made to spurt our tiny writhing, squirming mounds of flesh known as babies? But just thinking about females and reproduction makes me physically sick).

So there you have it. The reasons why as soon as I see the fantasy book has a female lead, I close the page and pretend it never happened. And yes, I usually don't get beyond blurbs. If you think that's balderdash, feel free to recommend me books with reasonable female protagonists.

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