Why We Need More Confident Female Characters // Sprinkles of Dreams

Bookish Musings & Discussion Time // Why We Need (More) Confident Female Characters

There’s been a steadily increasing amount of books that follow the what can almost be called “trend” of portraying strong female characters in books—girls like Katniss from The Hunger Games, who are physically strong and skillful, and just as capable as their male counterparts, if not more—but something I haven’t seen promoted and talked about enough, as well as represented in books, are female characters who are confident.

Female characters like Hermione, who is smart, and doesn’t hesitate to showcase it, and Luna, who stays true to her beliefs and opinions, despite what others think, and despite the ridicule she faces as a result thereof.

“You can laugh! But people used to believe there were no such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack!”

Luna Lovegood GIF

Female characters, in short, who are unafraid of being themselves, don’t worry about fitting in, and don’t bend to societal norms and expectations.

Why am I putting an emphasis on confident female characters?

Because boys, on the whole, have been raised, and are taught to be confident, to “be a man” (which is pretty much synonymous to “tough, confident, and self-assured” in most scenarios), while girls are taught to be “likable”.

Whereas boys, and later on men, are admired and respected for saying “I’m good at [insert a skill]”, the same sentence, coming from a girl, or a woman, is much more often met with raised eyebrows, accompanied by a not-so-subtle—at times unconscious—thought: “well, aren’t you a bit full of yourself”.

Consequently, men in powerful positions, or at work in general, can be tough, and ruthless, and are lauded for their grit, while women are often labelled far less favorable adjectives, and speaking out about issues, and raising a voice, can easily earn comments that range from “maybe it’s that time of the month” to “well, someone’s overreacting/overly emotional” and “wow, what a binch*”.

*I have a severe dislike for the word that is actually used, so I’m censoring it … in a way.

(And this kind of judgement doesn’t even merely come from males, which is so sad, because what happened to feminism, and girl power?)

💭

The fact is, that as a female, you grow up learning that it’s oftentimes much more beneficial to stay silent, be easy-going, and modest in order to be likable—something that is so detrimental for girls, especially when it comes to being able to develop our personality, as well as discovering, and being confident in who we are.

I still remember how a female classmate of mine once said “I’m a very good dancer”, when we had to introduce ourselves to the rest of the class, and tell them a fact about us. I didn’t think too much of it, until the girl sitting next to me started talking about her derisively to another girl, after she left the room, and one of the words she used were “stuck up”.

Whom she didn’t talk about was the male classmate who’d said “I’m a great football player”.

But, looking back, what strikes me about witnessing this scene—next to not saying anything, when I should have, because I didn’t want them to dislike me—I actually took note of what made her their topic of discussion in the first place, and it only reinforced my already deeply ingrained notion of not making the same “mistake” of so openly declaring my talents.

(And I’m cringing silently, while typing this, because that means I’m alluding to having talents, which immediately makes me go “AHHH will this make me seem stuck up??”)

See the vicious cycle?

💭

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in doing these things:
(Yes, I’m talking in the present tense, because I still do them, but I’m working on it!!)

  • I achieve something (pretty great), and the first thing I do, when someone congratulates me, is follow up my thank-you with “I couldn’t have done it without [lists a million people, who may or may not have directly or indirectly had the tiniest influence on me in the course of my entire life]
  • Instead of saying “Thank you”, I say “Oh, no, it’s really nothing. Anyone could do it!”
  • I get a high score on an exam/win a competition, but I’ll say “I was lucky”, “[he/she/they could have done just as well, but probably had a bad day” … &c.
  • I hide/don’t talk about my test scores, when I know that I’ve done better than others
  • I hold back from raising my hand in class, when no one else does, because doing so feels like being a show-off, or saying “I know something all of you don’t!”
  • I don’t correct classmates in a group assignment, because I don’t want to come off as a know-it-all, or as if I’m lecturing them, and if I do
  • I always start my sentences with “I think …” or “maybe …”, or “in my opinion …”, even if it’s a fact, or I know that I’m right

Hermione Granger GIF

💭

I still don’t feel entirely comfortable with thanking, and thereby accepting praises or compliments I receive, because saying “thank you” means I agree with the person, and “does this sound like I’m bragging? Is this making me unlikable?”.

But I also know that I shouldn’t.

Which is why I think it’s so important that young girls can find these kinds of characters in books; so that they realize that it’s okay to be proud of their achievements, and say things such as “I’m a great dancer” without feeling like they’re bragging—and so that others who hear it, will only admire them for their self-assurance, instead of judging them for it.

So that they can voice their opinions, without feeling like they need to justify it, or be afraid of it coming off the wrong way. So that they know they can be themselves, and don’t have to try and fit in, because the right people will love and accept them for who they are.

💭

Also, please keep in mind that I’m talking about confidence, not arrogance. Confidence has only to do with how you see and feel about yourself, and nothing about you in relation to other people.

blue-watercolor-wash-texture-5Let's Discuss! // Discussion Post @ Sprinkles of Dreams

Do you consider yourself to be a confident person?

Do you talk about your talents, skills, or achievements without feeling a twinge of discomfort?

Have you ever made yourself “smaller”, so as not to stand out?

What kind of personality traits do you wish were more frequently represented in characters?

Bonus question: A girl answers the question “Do you think you’re beautiful?” with “Yes, I’m very beautiful.”—be completely honest: does this reflect negatively on your opinion of her (even if only a tiny bit)?

xx, Lily

99 thoughts on “Bookish Musings & Discussion Time // Why We Need (More) Confident Female Characters

  1. Great post, Lily. I do consider myself a confident person, but only because I’m in my mid-forties. For some reason it seems to take women/girls a long time to feel good about themselves, and I’m no exception.

    Although I grew up gravitating towards books with strong female leads or books as women as the main characters so I knew this was a possibility, a passion, and a desire. When I was 15, traveling around Thailand to visit my family, I discovered Sidney Sheldon who always wrote as a woman. Prior to that I was into my YA books that we’re written by women for girls – I particularly liked the Sunfire series.

    As far as tendencies, I totally relate to not taking a compliment -had to really work on that one! Still do! But what I have definitely slayed is not speaking with a lilt in my voice, as in, I’m not sure of what i’m saying so I will end on a high note. UGH. Hate that. Of course, when you are trying to relate to someone or want to be humble, I get it, but – well, you know what I mean!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Lani! ❤

      I'm so happy to hear that, and I'm glad you could find writers and books that inspired you in that aspect, when you were younger. And I'm so glad to hear you're comfortable with accepting compliments now, I'm getting much better at it (online), but in real life it's still such a major struggle.

      Oh my goodness, the lilt! I didn't even think of that before, but I always do that as well, and I really need to work on that, too. I remember my (male) teacher once joking; "are you making a statement, or asking a question?", and I think he meant well (?), but I was so mortified.

      Thank you so, so much for your thoughtful and insightful comment, Lani! I loved reading your thoughts on this. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow… you hit on so many things that I can relate to on a personal level… it’s happened so many times when I was working , where I knew that I was being appreciated for the good job that I had done but I always did end up attributing a lot of it to the support I got from my peers. Never thought about it this way though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m glad you could relate, Sahi! But also, not … I hope you know what I mean. 🙈

      It’s great and important to appreciate and acknowledge people for their support, but I definitely believe that we should all feel comfortable with accepting praise, and not diminish our own achievements! That’s really what I hope we will all be able to do one day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely love this post! This is so beautifully written. Everything you said is so relatable and true, omg. 😩 In social interactions, I always make myself seem smaller (whether consciously or subconsciously) and I always try to go along with the flow in order to not cause conflict (because I hate conflict), even if I strongly disagree with something. I’m definitely *not* a confident person haha; I honestly have no self-confidence or faith in myself & I often hate myself a lot. 😅🙈 (I probably have social anxiety, but I’m not quite sure.)

    Anyway, thank you so much for this discussion, Lily! I really enjoyed reading this post and I completely agree with you; we definitely need more confident female characters in books. It’s so important for us to have these role models. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Dezzy! 💞

      I’m really sorry to hear that! 😦 I relate so much to going along with what others want to do, because I don’t want to seem “difficult”, or as you said, cause conflict. Even when I’m with family, or good friends, I more often than not let them choose what to do/where to eat i.e., and don’t “challenge” their opinion on a matter. I do have (social) anxiety though, so that probably plays a part in it, too.

      (And I’d totally recommend getting diagnosed, and learning more about yourself, if that’s what you want & you think that’d help you overcome feeling and behaving this way! 💗)

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post & thank you so much for your wonderful comment! 💝

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lily! This post is amazing, and I’m honestly just sitting over here screaming at how crucial and wonderful to read it was.💓

    You’re so right! We need more Hermiones and Lunas- more characters (and people) who know who they are, what they believe in, and what they’re good at. I have always felt so much discomfort at talking about things I’m good at. I even feel strange typing this comment and saying that there are things I’m good at. And that’s not okay, and I need to work on that.

    This is something that I haven’t really ever thought about, but now that you brought it up, I know that I won’t stop thinking about it anytime soon. Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh Olivia!! You’re so wonderful, I’m crying!! Thank you so, so much, that means so much to me!! 😭💘

      I feel the exact same way, though I can guarantee you that hearing you say that only makes me want to hear you talk about everything you’re good at—and I really hope that one day we’ll both be able do that without any kind of discomfort, or bashfulness.

      That’s such a lovely compliment, and I appreciate it a whole lot! Thank you so much for your kind words, and I hope you’re having an amazing weekend! Sending you lots of love. 💕🌷

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Note 💌

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s