Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jayne finds another book to feel smugly superior to

Hey, remember back in June I was going to do a book log once a week and then did one and then turned into a hermit never to be heard from again? Yeah, good times. I have emerged from my hermitude to do my favorite thing in the world: mock the hell out of something. Awhile ago I got a couple of gift cards to Borders. I picked up several books, some good, and others the literary equivalent to a bag of potato chips: contains no redeeming nutritional value but it's tasty and fills a craving. The potato chip book this time around was Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick.
As you can tell by the cover, this is one of those paint by the numbers urban fantasy books: cis white woman in skimpy dress holding a weapon while arching her impeccably plucked eyebrows to look menacing. By this we can deduce she is a Strong Female Character.

By now you should know that I love strong female characters--I hunger for them--but Strong Female Characters not so much. Having a female lead, either as protagonist or antagonist, who is fully developed and has flaws and ambitions and drive like a real live person is still relatively rare. What we get instead is the Strong Female Character, who is overwhelmingly a white, cis-gendered, thin woman, wearing revealing outfits--short dresses or skirts or sleeveless tops baring their midriff, maybe a tattoo or two, all the while giving bedroom eyes to the reader--who are two-dimensional, lazy cardboard cutouts that kick ass, because she is STRONG, because, you know, women can't be strong in other ways, like emotionally because that's icky girl stuff and no one wants that. Again, I enjoy seeing women kicking ass, but having them beat up men is lazy GRRRL POWER appropriation of feminism and limits them to caricatures.