I just did a review on UnEnchanted, one of many Twilight inspired books – and certainly better written than it’s muse. However … it has one glaring flaw, a flaw that sets my teeth on edge.
Clumsy is not a personality!
Neither is: Laughing at jokes, drinking tea, eating cereal for breakfast, or sitting in chairs. It’s female authors who seem to be the most blind when it comes to this problem. I don’t know why they feel obligated to do this to their own gender.
Take your main character (a girl) and make her unpopular … but wait! She’s still stunningly beautiful and no less than two or three jaw-droppingly gorgeous guys want to have her … and then, lacking any other personality trait … make her clumsy.
If a male author did this to a female character we’d comment on his misogyny. So why do female authors think they can get away with it? And if they honestly don’t care enough to give their characters a personality, can they at least switch it up? Maybe instead of being clumsy she’s fond of wearing shoes only every other day? Or she gets hiccups all the time? Oh, how about she has black hair. That’s a personality, right?
Have a little respect for yourself, your characters, and your readers, female authors. Give your heroines personality traits that are personality traits, at least, and not comedic defects. Even Heinlein managed that. (See Podkayne of Mars for a girl with a personality written by a true misogynist.)
Just because every cartoon you watched as a kid had only one girl character per show (whose personality was “Girl”) doesn’t mean you have to enforce this stereotype to the next generation. Don’t be afraid to write strong, compelling and even – heaven forbid – normal, un-clumsy girls.