By: Larissa | August 8, 2014 | (37) Comments

discussing through midnight

This meme was created for YA Midnight Reads as a discussion post of all things bookish.

———

I have a lot of feelings on this subject but it’s late and this is due to go up in one hour so this may not be as well written or though provoking as I intended. It’s probably going to be jumbled opinionated mess.  I really need to stop doing these things last minute as they just put more pressure on myself lol.

That’s little disclaimer. So in the last discussing through midnight I described many typical YA tropes in a satirical stand point. However now there’s one point where they more I think about it, the more I disagree with it.

Note how I said [discussing  main characters] she, obviously we would never have a male main character, as girls only want to read about girls.

Yes, I did just quote myself.

Damn right, I’m fabulous. [;

The more I stare and dissect that quote though, the more I find that I’m not in agreement with myself.There’s so many places where woman are often tossed to the side and exposed to such sexism. Have you ever wandered into a comic book store on your own? Well I have and I’ve never felt so judged by the comic store employees. There was this mentality that was just so palpable: you’re a girl and you don’t belong here. This is most clearly shown through the reactions of the news that Thor is a girl. Look at the comments of any news article that broke this information and you’ll be hit by overwhelming misogyny.The same can easily be applied to gamer culture, where there’s  a complete lack of positive gender representation. It’s also common for female gamers to be subject to scorn from the more obviously “serious gamers.” Who are, of course, completely male and wise on what makes you a real gamer. Having different body parts clearly make you inferior and lesser of a gamer. Woman can’t be into gaming, have knowledge of it and enjoy it.Doesn’t this mentality sound completely absurd out loud? So then why are so many media forms not including women at all? Or, they’re including women and reducing them to nothing more than hyper sexual beings or damsels in distress??

This is why YA is important. This is why I disagree with my own words.

I want to see all of the female leads in YA. We need them. We need girls that aren’t hyper sexualized to bits. In literally almost all other forms of media we see woman pushed to the side, but in YA females are the ones who tend to take the lead. We see strong female main characters, who even though may be caricatured as being badass are actually present and take action.  Our leading ladies in YA represent what we want to see in other forms of media, some who we aspire to and admire. They tend to be more complex and have their own motivations or desires, simply not going for what men want.

For me YA is a place where I don’t have to feel ridiculed. There’s an understanding among us I feel, where we don’t judge each other on what we read nor do we bring others down. I feel like truly bond over this singular form of media. I feel like YA is one area of media where the primary market is female and because of that there’s positive (or really any) representation  of females. I just wish there were more examples of this in another media forms. Just because the majority of your audience isn’t female (I’m looking at you comics and video games) doesn’t mean you have to marginalize the other.

Still, it’s nice to at least one little area in media where females are actually involved and comfortable. This is why YA is important and why I’ll likely never tire of reading through a woman’s eyes. I think that YA does quite a good job of actually promoting strong  female characters and I’m definitely okay with this. It makes me feel happy that younger girls will have some form of media to turn to which isn’t openly misogynistic or sexist.

What about you? Do you think highlighting female leads is important in YA? Do you disagree? Discuss (:

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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

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37 Responses to Discussing Through Midnight (42): Importance of YA

  1. I think strong female leads are very important! And it’s always fun to see them kick ass in one way or another. :p
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  2. THIS IS SUCH AN UTTERLY FRABJOUS POST. You’re OBVIOUSLY made of awesome, Larissa 😉
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  3. Zoe N. says:

    Hmm…I think this is a really intriguing post Larissa. 🙂 I never really thought about it that way, but now that you mention it, I completely see where you’re coming from. So many times women are portrayed negatively in the media, but in YA it’s so refreshing to see women portrayed realistically. I think this is what makes YA such an easy genre to connect to and read, because it really does have something for everyone. Thanks for sharing and wonderful post! <3
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    • Larissa says:

      I’m glad you think so Zoe. I’m also glad that you can see where I’m coming from and I’m not just spewing words ahaha. Don’t females just take such a beating in the media, whether it be from slut shaming or negative portrayals?? YA really is a great genre because it doesn’t shut women out but actually welcomes them. Thank you Zoe <33

  4. Amir says:

    As an adult who often read YA, I am thankful for the strong female leads that are featured in YA. They don’t necessarily have to be badass in the “I’m going to beat you up” department, but just having a genre that represents young women differently and how they are defined as strong characters in their own way is amazing.

    “So then why are so many media forms not including women at all? Or, they’re including women and reducing them to nothing more than hyper sexual beings or damsels in distress??”

    This got me thinking about strong female characters on TV. Sometimes the over-sexualization gets too much that it overpowers the fact that these women are badasses not because of their bodies, but because of themselves. I’m all for women flaunting what they got but sometimes overdoing it just makes people forget about the character and mainly just focus on one’s body.

    So I do agree, I think YA is an important genre, especially for the younger generation, to realize that women can be strong, can be gamers, can be whatever they freaking want if they put their minds to it…and vice versa! People shouldn’t be looking at one’s sex to measure his/her skill and character. They should look at the person itself. Awesome post Larissa, I totally get everything you’re trying to convey 🙂
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah honestly I’m pretty happy to see any sort of female lead in YA, as long as they’re not hyper sexualized or just there to echo a male’s every want and desire. Alike you I adore reading about heroines that are strong in their own light.

      TV is another area were woman are definitely hyper sexualized, as it’s such a visual form. I do understand that more revealing clothes can be empowering and I personally have nothing against them. There’s a difference to me for dressing for yourself versus dressing yourself to fulfill male desires.

      Yes! I really think YA is doing a great thing by promoting female leads and showing us girls that being female really isn’t nothing to feel judged for. It’s paving the road for more open minded people in my eyes.

      Thank you Amir! So glad what I was putting down actually came across

  5. Valerie says:

    YAY FOR RAMBLING (it’s not mindless I promise you)

    But I definitely agree, I really like the fact that there are so many strong female leads out there in YA that I can read about. It really is refreshing. And I know we already talked about this in the chat, but I would still like to mention that the difference between YA book culture and video games and comics is that many people don’t care about the gender of who’s reading. As long as good conversation comes out of it.

    And I definitely want video games that feature female leads, like IN TOMB RAIDER. That was a good game! I’m tired of the white, middle-aged guy LOL. Also, I would love to get into comics, but I don’t think I have a comic book store near me, and plus I have no money. ^_^;;;;
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    • Larissa says:

      WOOO I’M GLAD IT DIDN’T COME ACROSS AS SUCH.

      I think YA is one of the few media forms where it’s so female focused, which definitely feels good since so many other forms oppose females in general. You did make this point in the chat and it’s so true. I feel like us YA readers are quite open and accepting, unlike some comic book lovers/video gamers.

      Yeah I’m with you, it’s like there’s not a lot of effort with developing a solid game which has a lead female. Comics are awesome, the negative culture surrounding it and females? Not as much

  6. “I want to see all of the female leads in YA. We need them. We need girls that aren’t hyper sexualized to bits. In literally almost all other forms of media we see woman pushed to the side, but in YA females are the ones who tend to take the lead.”

    YES. YES to all of this. I hate it SO much when women are represented as the ‘lesser’ gender. Just because I don’t have a penis doesn’t mean I can’t do the same thing as a man. I am a gamer. I am strong. I am intelligent. I am a proud woman and I wish society and all forms of media would show that instead of making us inferior to males. And I wish people will take us serious and treat us with respect instead of making us lust objects.

    Haha, sorry for the frustrations, but it always makes me so furious. The same with wearing clothes that show some skin. A lot of males always look at you, undress you with their eyes and call you names/whistle like you are a freaking dog. I’m not an object.

    That’s why I love characters as Celaena so much. She is not afraid to stand up for herself, she is strong and confident. And now I’m going to shut up, haha.
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  7. Larissa says:

    Haha aww you quoted me [; But yes UGH, it’s the worst to see woman portrayed so negatively and ‘less’ than men. YES, there’s really nothing about me that really differentiates me from a male other than my my body parts, so why is this such a fucking issue??? Like males we have our own stories, interests, likes, dislikes, etc. Omg. In a shocking revelation we come to find that we’re also a human being, just like a man 😮

    It’s all good Mel, I definitely agree. It’s just so frustrating and discouraging to see such blatant sexism all over the place. I agree with you about clothes, I want to go out for midnight walks. However this is definitely not safe and encouraged because of males and how they may treat a unassuming woman walking around late at night UGH.

    She’s brilliant and doesn’t take shit from nobody, it’s why I admire her. Please go on Mel, I can talk about this sort of stuff allllll day.

    Thanks for the lovely comment girl

  8. I love reading about strong female characters. I love the perfections, and the flaws. We need them. We need young women to become empowered when they read books. I hope more and more authors would write about female leads in YA that aren’t, like what you said, sexualized too much. I want relatable female leads that aren’t too feminine, because I’m not. SO IT IS IMPORTANT! 😀
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    • Larissa says:

      Same! I just want to see realistic leading ladies, who aren’t portrayed negatively. I want younger girls to read these stories and like you said, feel empowered. It’s definitely important for there to be representation of all females in all forms of media.

  9. GO LARISSA. WOOHOO YOU SAID IT! I’m annoyed a lot by the blatant sexism the world still totes around. I mean, for crying out loud, aren’t we past all this??? Yet “you act like a girl” is still an insult. I’m always gobsmacked when people, particularly girls themselves still use sexist sayings/quotes. It’s sad. It doesn’t take much to educate yourself, so why don’t people do it?!! *breathes deeply* I utterly love how YA gives us a lot of badass girls. I particularly love the ones who don’t need a guy to complete them, but hey! They’ll still have relationships. (Like Cinder and Kai. Omg, they’re adorable, but they’re actually people when they’re separate instead of moping whiny teens.) Okay, now I’m rambling.
    But…Thor is a girl?? Is this for the movies? Are they firing Chris Hemsworth?!!
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    • Larissa says:

      (: YEAH GIRL YOU BET I DID. I know, people say all the time that the past is the past. If this is truly the case, why are we STILL seeing woman who are being degraded? Hyper sexualized ? And truly complete and utter unequal and negative representation. Have you seeing that “throw like a girl” video on Youtube?? Watch it if you haven’t, it’s truly eye opening. Yeah really really seeing positive females in YA can be so empowering and that why it’s important, especially for the youth who are always exposed to this girl hate.

      LOL! just in the new comics I believe c;

  10. Anah says:

    Huh, I’ve never actually thought about it like that before. I agreed with your previous statement, and now you’ve gone and turned my brain all around. I use to be irritated by all the females leads (mostly because they’re irritating) and wished there were more male leads for YA, but you make a good point about women being excluded from other forms of media. I mean, I personally don’t understand the gaming or comic book situation because I’m not into that stuff, but it must be frustrating, and it’s only fair that girls can have something just for themselves, right?

    What I find funny is that often, I hear guys saying they won’t review YA because all the leads are girls, but girls will easily play video games that are catered to the male gaze without any problem, or read books about boys. It’s like anything associated to what females is stupid. How often have you heard critics or netizens ridiculing YA movies like Twilight (yeah it’s bad), Divergent (also bad), and The Hunger Games (eh) for being for teenage girls? As if anything teen girls like is automatically stupid and we’re the lowest common denominator. Like, yeah, ridicule these movies because they’re bad, not because girls like them. Then they wonder why we have such low self-esteem.

    So I agree that representation for females is important. But at the same time, I don’t have to like every bit of representation. A lot of YA females are written badly and by other females! Eventually, I’d want it to get to the point where women are equal to men, and badly written females are just badly written characters instead of representatives of their genders, but until then, I’m going to cringe at the bad representation, and hope people reading don’t think we’re all like that.

    I think that’s enough of my rambles. I hope it made sense. xD
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    • Larissa says:

      Haha! Welcome to my life, I always pick one answer on multiple choice tests and then end up talking myself out of my original guess ooops. I do enjoy female leads, but there’s definitely times where I feel frustrated with them. At least we’re seeing some sort of representation though that isn’t just girls being sex objects all for men?? Cause that’s basically all females are in the comic/video game world.

      You make a good point! I feel like us girls are lot less judgmental when it comes to gender norms and they’re really a lot less ingrained in us. Meanwhile boys are usually raised to be “strong” and “macho.” I agree with you on the movies, people critiquing them should solely base their feelings on the subject matter, no the intended (female) market or demographic.

      Yes! Equality and fair representation, that’s really what I want. I’m in total agreement with ya girl. Your ramble made plenty of sense (:

  11. I LOVE YOUR POST. I HEART IT SO MUCH. As a female gamer, I have experienced the misogynist comments that come with loving something that is male dominated, and I’m always proud of being able to stand on my own in that arena. I’ve walked into a comic book store before and never have I felt so judged in my life. Which is a sad thing, because shouldn’t it be a safe haven for people who love comics and games? YA is wonderful, anyone can enjoy it and I’m glad this is where so many strong female heroines are presented. It’s like the comic books for females, instead of scantily clad heroines we have strong ones who withstand the trials of life and other things.
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  12. Larissa says:

    SO GLAD YOU DO JEANN <33 Glad to see another female gamer, not so glad to see that another one of us has suffered from the misogynist comments. It's something so unavoidable in the gaming world and it really makes me so frustrated as to why that's the way things are. The comic book store thing was just totally sad. It should be a safe haven for those who share a love of the same thing, but instead becomes a judgmental and unfriendly place.

    I agree with on YA being so great at representing a lot of different females. It's super important

  13. Tanja says:

    This is so true and I totally agree with you! I have friends (female) who is a gamer and guys often make fun of her. I mean I get it that it’s a man world but is it really like that. But the thing here is that in my country mostly books written by women are considered either chick-lit or some useless pieces, as for centuries literature was men’s field here. So even today those prejudices are there. So I totally agree that we need more girls and I’m so happy that I see more female leads in YA fantasy! Which is amazing 🙂

    Last week I was at the library and our librarian complained how more than 90% of the readers were girls. She was wondering how that can be when men are considered more educated and literate. I guess that many things need to be updated and that many things have changed.

    Great post, Larissa 🙂
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    • Larissa says:

      Awww I’m sorry about your friend /: hope she can stand up to those guys and show them who’s boss. Yeah, “in today’s modern world” we assume that prejudices are a thing of the past. However they’re still very prevalent in society if you just take off those rose colored glasses.

      OH MY GOD. Wow that librarian needs a reality check. Her reasoning and questioning of why don’t more males read, they’re more educated is so off base. Speaking of myself personally, I read because I enjoy it and is that really such an issue??

      Thank you <33

  14. Omg wow this is such an interesting topic! It’s true that the amount of female perspectives in YA is usually taken as a joke but it’s also true that we need this in our society! I think it’s amazing to see so many badass characters as well as so many girls we can relate to. Definitely such an important part of society and I love YA for magnifying that!
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    • Larissa says:

      There’s definitely a lot to be explored in my eyes, it’s totally prevalent even in our “modern society”. Yes! You explained it better than me with the word magnifying, it’s like YA is really putting a focus on female leads which is wonderful.

  15. Siiri says:

    Sexism is a really tough subject indeed. AND GIRLS CAN LIKE COMICS AND PLAY GAMES OKAY. And it’s super important indeed to have girls as our leading characters. I mean, I love a good guy POV, but I identify with girls and I love them being smart, quick witted and strong. Inspirational. Such a great discussion, darlin’! You always have such deep thoughtful discussions 🙂 I love them!
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah it really does make me feel all of the emotions and gathering them up into comprehensible sentences is hard. YES WE CAN, WE CAN DO WHATEVER AND GENDER NORMS ARE THE WORST OKAY. I’m okay with male POVs, but it’s hard to find authentic ones. I’m definitely okay with female ones too- WOW OMG I LIKE THEM EQUALLY, BOTH GENDERS. What a novel idea [;

      Thank you <33

  16. I completely agree. Although, I have to argue that the environment in comic book stores and gaming communities is seeing marginal change for the better regarding females in their community. But, the downside is I can’t help but feel the underpinnings of sex fueling this welcoming. I may walk into a comic book store and get stared at still, but now it tends to be more out of lust or sexual desire than disgust at what is she doing here women can’t appreciate comics. Is that better? I don’t think so. But it’s changing, and I hope it continues to change so we can do whatever the hell we want.
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah I feel like there’s some baby steps being made regarding the atmosphere in some shops. I just more shops were more welcoming. You’re right about the hyper sexualization, I’d almost rather be judged for liking comics. Almost. I agree with you, I’d like to do whatever I want without feeling judged or being treated like nothing more than a sexual object.

  17. Rashika says:

    1. Damn right you’re fabulous
    2. LOVE the post.

    I think you make a VERY strong point with this post but at the same time, going back to your quote, I also feel like there is this sort of belief that girls will only relate to girls which is wrong. Which is why I do sometimes wish there were more well-written male protagonists in YA. With all that said though, YA really is essential for the reasons you said (too lazy to repeat them). I have to say though, with SOOO many YA books out there, it’s getting harder and harder to find female leads I can look up too. For the most part, many actually seem like caricatures and even the supposedly bad ass female leads sometimes become hard to relate because what I reallly want is strong female leads and strong is not synonyms with bad ass. *sigh*

    But to go back to your original question…. I DO think it’s VERY important to highlight female leads in YA but to also do it so that they are actually realistic too.

    FANTASTIC discussion post, Lars and THANK YOU for sharing this! 🙂
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    • Larissa says:

      <33 I'm so glad you liked it and girrrl you're just as fantastic (:

      You're right, I definitely do relate to boys in some ways. Like there's times where I would rather be around boys just because I feel more comfortable or similar. I agree with you that well written authentic male POVs wouldn't be all that bad, and maybe it would allow more growth in the YA market. I agree with you about finding strong female MC's that are really in depth, and not just stereotypical caricatures. God girl, sounds like we need to co-write a YA story okay [;

      ALL WE NEED IS STRONG REALISTIC FEMALES OKAY.

      Thanks boo <33 :*

  18. I am totally in agreement, I could sit and write here all day about my pro-feminist stance and the need to project strong, happy and capable images of female leads onto young girls who feel they are capable of being able to be a lead in society.
    Other areas in life women are looked down on in the ‘nerd’ culture is the big science-fiction and fantasy arena where again men seem to dominate. However women are equally capable of reading, grasping and being a nerd when it comes to these aspects.
    I definitely feel like women should have more respect in the gaming and comic world despite it not being something I do a lot of.
    And I love the fact that we get many strong YA females, and it is one positive aspect of YA. However, I think it’s still important that we get th strong male protagonists too as boys are equally led when younger and they need positive images that present boys that treat girls are equals. Like the Harry Potter series, the three main characters, whilst two are boys, Hermione is the one the two look to for the plans and the intelligence and it shows how both boys and girls bring something to the table and I believe that is important in a society where we strive for equality more and more!
    Fantastic post.

    • Larissa says:

      Haha wooo! You took words out of my mouth girl. Everything you said regarding girls and showing them positive images of female leads is so so so so so important.

      Yeah I especially have these feelings towards the negative gaming and comic culture that perpetuates that woman don’t belong in these genres. People say it’s improving, but we still deal with such hyper sexualization and have characters whose main purpose is to further the man’s goals.

      Yes! I realize that this post mainly highlights females in YA, but seeing authentic guy POVs is something I love to. Really, I just want to see equality and no issues with one gender being considered better or more important than the other.

      Thank you (:

  19. Book Nerd says:

    I love your post; it is very interesting! 🙂 It is really realistic and inspirational when a female teen/woman is heroic, brave, and smart in a YA book.. When I read a YA book, I just feel happy when the female is strong 🙂 It sometimes annoys me when the female is weak and when she always depends on the guy to fix problems, battle villains, etc…..I just wish that there would be good female role models in the media too.. This is a very important topic and I love how you discussed it in your post! Great job, girl! 😉

    • Larissa says:

      I’m glad you find it interesting, really it’s these social issues that intrigue me too. I think we definitely need to highlight these strong and realistic characters, promoting them as rolemodels to the younger audience c: I agree with you that there’s certainly examples of negative females in media as well, such as ones with co-dependency issues which is something we definitely don’t want to promote.

      Thank you! <33

  20. This is such an awesome post, Larissa. I loved it! I think it’s good that there are a lot of female leads in the YA demographic, especially since this market mainly attracts women. That’s why we need to have more awesome female leads to look up to, and why I get so pissed when they’re the annoying kind, because that’s not the kind of person I want female readers to have as their role model. I also think we need to have more male characters, too, especially ones that are sensitive to what women go through, or basically, is not a douchebag. I don’t want the Male Hero to propogate elitism towards the other sex like how some Adult books can be. With that said, awesome post once again! You nailed it!
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    • Larissa says:

      Thank ya Faye <33

      Yeah, seeing these female leads in a female dominated market is something that's really great. These characters however, like you said, should be ones that are both strong and realistic. We want to promote the right things, not things such as girl hate or co-dependency issues. We need equality though, so seeing some male POVs wouldn't be that bad as long as they weren't sexist and were authentic.

      Thanks again girl! <33

  21. Sarah P. says:

    Amen to this, Larissa. I never understood how being a female lessens your opinions or love for things. It’s like a geek girl can’t be taken seriously because geeking out is exclusively for males. We, as females, can’t possibly amount to their level of geek-culture understanding. In short, we must be faking it because we’re simply not there to love and enjoy said geek topic. It’s demeaning to women everywhere and it saddens me how women are treated inferiorly and poorly in general.

    I firmly believe in the importance of YA’s quest to empower women of all ages. Like you, I believe this is a place and a medium where we don’t ridicule each other based on a gender. Not the same thing could be said to those who think YA is a waste of reading time or has absolutely no merit but to provide mindless enjoyment, but I digress.

    I love it when female leads can kick butt or physically strong. It’s one of the best qualities I appreciate but personality is definitely more important to me, and sensitivity, and intelligence, and basically someone who has a good head on her shoulders. Brilliant post, Larissa. I loved this post so much. :DDD
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