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Customer Discussions > Fantasy forum

Don't we need strong MALE characters as WELL as female?

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Showing 1-25 of 247 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 4, 2011 2:15:37 AM PDT
Gigi says:
Does it bother anyone that sometimes there is an imbalance there in fiction? I mean, in my opinion, a strong female character is important (not some fluffy little helpless thing), but, don't you think she needs a strong male character to balance her out as well?

I have gotten to feel like the men aren't manly enough often times. Tarzan and Jane in the old black and white flicks, both strong characters who balanced each-other out. Rhett and Scarlett, Marguerite and Roxton... Lois and Clark... these are the characters that resonate as couples. The man is sexy and manly, not some dewey-eyed broody twit, not some Sheen-esque neanderthal.

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 10:48:43 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 4, 2011 12:20:27 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 10:59:33 AM PDT
Gigi says:
Well, I think that sounds interesting! :) Does it come in hardcopy as well? (I don't own a kindle.) If it does let me know, I'd love to give it a read, and I'd give it a review if I did.

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 11:10:00 AM PDT
Jason Koenig says:
If it was published in hardcover, he wouldn't be pimping himself on a random forum thread.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 11:13:37 AM PDT
Gigi says:
Well, paperback would be fine-- I just meant a physical copy, not a e-book, because I'd like to read it.

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 11:28:05 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 4, 2011 12:08:24 PM PDT]

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 2:06:05 PM PDT
OK, it is SF, not fantasy, but Bujold's Vorkosigan series has both Miles and his mother Cordelia. I know they aren't a couple, but both of them are great characters.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 3:53:54 PM PDT
Gigi says:
Sci-Fi, fantasy-- similar boats. Doesn't even have to be either, honestly. I just like the idea of strong, balanced out characters. It's funny to me, I can go back and watch "Father Knows Best" on Netflix, and that show had more balance of characters than at least most sitcoms of today, which is just scary. (Raising Hope's pretty awesome, they're pretty balanced, though.)

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 6:19:17 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 4, 2011 6:21:15 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 7:06:58 PM PDT
Dana Seilhan says:
Um, Tarzan was the hero in those flicks and Jane was just his sidekick. Rhett was always making fun of or overpowering Scarlett, and in the end he makes the decision of where their relationship goes. I don't know about Marguerite and Roxton, but Lois was always in need of rescuing. I don't think you are seeing the same characters everyone else is seeing. And there are books where only the guy is the hero (see also the Harry Dresden novels, where the only reason there's any constant "strong female character" is Dresden needs a contact at the mundane police department). If you really can't find any books to suit you, you're not looking hard enough.

And I'm not saying I dislike Dresden or any of the rest of those. But I'm honest about what I'm seeing. And characters don't have to be coupled all the time, nor do they have to be balanced out by somebody of the opposite sex. How about let's just go for *variety* and not just making sure the scales are exactly balanced? After all these millenia of men being the heroes and women being the done-tos, there's no way we could achieve that, anyway. Moving forward now.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 8:13:59 PM PDT
That is SO true. And you know, sometimes I want a female character to NOT be the strong one all the time. I think there should at least be a balance where sometimes the guy is leading and sometimes the girl...

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 10:39:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2011 10:43:34 PM PDT
Gen says:
I think the poster above has it right: VARIETY!
So, for instance, despite Harry Dresden not having many, if any, important female characters, at least he's not a typical masculine hero. He's stretching the role a bit, even without having many women around. I want more books with heroes and heroines who are strong because of their own self knowledge, competence and experience, rather than the character who is considered strong because he/she is fulfilling all of the classic alpha behaviors. In that case, female, male, shemale, makes no difference to me. Watching men and women work together, where neither feel the need to beat their chests - love it. But that's entirely personal. I have a friend who is unabashed in her loves for alpha males and their feisty helpmates who keep them in line. Do I miss those males or that dynamic? No, rather I think I've been hit over the head with them. Other dynamics still seem to be less common.

Posted on Nov 5, 2011 12:24:16 AM PDT
Boric says:
I think there are plenty of strong male characters in SFF---in spades in series like GRR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, eg Ned Stark, Tyrion and Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow; or Steven Erikson's "Malazan" series with the likes of Whiskeyjack, Quickben and the Bridge Burners, Coltane, and Anamander Rake.

Newer stories also have both strong male and female characters, like Daniel Abraham's "The Dragon's Path" with Marcus Wester and Cithrin, Dawson and his wife Clara, or Helen Lowe's "The Heir of Night" with Malian and Kalan, the heralds Tarathan and Jehane Mor, the Honor Captain, Asantir and the Earl of Night.

Going further back there's Gavid Gemmell's "Legend"--you don't get many characters stronger than Druss, and what about Aragorn, Eomer and Faramir in "The Lord of the Rings"--far more than the more-or-less solitary strong heroine, Eowyn.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2011 10:22:16 AM PST
Gigi says:
Completely have to disagree with you there. Jane had to be strong enough to handle being with Tarzan. he wouldn't have wanted some fluffy little helpless thing-- and in the books (as well as the movies) he would leave her sometimes for days at a time to go on some quest and she'd have to fend for herself.

And, Scarlett and Red were equal matches-- they just fought for alpha status. It was a taming of the shrew type of novel for it's day, and Scarlett was one of the strongest women in fiction. She took care of HERSELF most of her life, she just realized too late she could rely on someone else for once... It was a tragedy, but they did write a sequel where it got fixed...

And, Lois is a very strong charcter as well. She only needs saving because she's so strong willed that she gets in over her head-- it's not as if she just can't handle every day life.

Marguerite and Roxton were from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (TV Version).

And, women can be heroes, too. But, it's nice to see the men being macho and manly--- and, yes, the hero--- the women being feminine yet strong enough to be their match.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2011 10:24:51 AM PST
Gigi says:
Lord of the Rings is a great example, yes!:)

Posted on Nov 6, 2011 9:38:57 PM PST
Michaelbrent says:
Unfortunately, a lot of fiction these days is being written through the lens of the times: to wit, men are incapable of anything more complex than serving as sperm donation locations. I agree that the best fiction has strong men AND women, but unfortunately it's become PC to ridicule men and "manliness," though in truth having strong protagonists serve as foils against one another always makes for a more interesting story.

- Michaelbrent Collings
author of the bestselling Billy: Messenger of Powers

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2011 3:00:13 PM PST
Really? What are you reading that would give you this impression? Because I read a lot of fantasy, and I'd say that as the years have gone by, the portrayal of men and women in the genre has gotten better, but it's not yet eqal, and it certainly hasn't "gone the other way."

Without even thinking too hard, I could name you dozens of fantasy books and/or series published in the last 10 years that have strong male protagonists and few or no women in them. I'm absolutely certain I couldn't do that for fantasy novels I've read with strong women and weak, sexualized men (heh, maybe I should write one).

I like a variety of heroes - male and female, weak and strong, all the thousands of temperments and personality quirks. It's okay if they're not all in the same book, or even by the same author. But to say that most contemporary fantasy treats men as weak, simple-minded sex objects is absolutely laughable.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2011 7:11:08 PM PST
J. G. Smith says:
Yes! You're right - it should be a balance. Sure, we're all tired of the alpha male. I love my female characters to be strong and tough - they don't have to be Anita Blake (who just gets annoying at times.) But they need a backbone! (Mercy Thompson - in my opinion - is a perfect heroine, tough but sensitive, strong but still feminine.) I love strong women!

BUT!! If the male lead is weak... then what's the point of the male lead? In Sunny's Monere series her male characters are very weak. Sure, step aside for the female to take the lead, but following your female lead doesn't mean you have to be the crybaby! (Yes, the male lead does cry, pitifully, before the female lead. I was disgusted.) It's not that men aren't allowed to cry, it was done terribly...

Basically I agree there should be a balance between the lead characters, the male and female. I think both should be strong yet have a softer side. Both should have their moments of weakness, but both should also have their moments of triumph. (Again, Mercy Thompson series - the two leads, Mercy and Adam, are the perfect example. They balance each other out perfectly.)

Posted on Nov 7, 2011 7:48:36 PM PST
Read Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. It has a strong heroine and strong heroes as well. Well, in truth, it doesn't put much stock in men verses women since men and women are virtually super powered beings that could kill you with barely a glance. I think that is the best series. Not to have overbearing men or women, but to have real dynamics of men and women. That is what is neat about Mistborn. If you fall in the trap of one-dimensional characters, then you lose sight of what really matters: bringing the reader into the world. Furthermore, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson has some of the best characters, in that they could almost be real. Brandon Sanderson overall tends to write strong female characters with equally powerful male characters.

I just don't quite see what the allure is. In real life, you have strong women and men. The irony is that men in real life like "docile" women or at least a women who isn't going to own the man. This is general of course, there are plenty of men who want a strong, intelligent woman, but still, a man needs to feel like he is in charge, even if the woman is making all of the decisions. It is simply in breeding that finding a mate that is compatible is sometimes difficult when you are a jerk or overbearing. At some point the person you are courting will have enough and rebel.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 12:56:33 PM PST
Mrs. Garside says:
Bujold has lots of interesting characters of both sexes. Ellie Quinn, Taura, Ekaterin, Aral Vorkosigan.

I see the OP's point. Ideally the whole cast is well-rounded and interesting, males and females, lead or secondary.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 1:00:03 PM PST
Mrs. Garside says:
There are NO sequels to 'Gone with the Wind'. The story ended when Rhett finally had enough of Scarlett's indifference/abuse. There's some bad fan-fiction that tried to rewrite the story and give it a happy ending, but that doesn't count.

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 4:36:58 PM PST
Kelly says:
You want strong characters on BOTH sides. There is more of an emphasis on strong women now, as women buy more books and want their share of the spotlight. But isn't it better to have both leads involved in the fantasy, rather than one saving the other from the wizard's tower?

And by the way, the Dresden books have a NUMBER of strong females in supporting roles - both Faerie courts and one vampire court are led by females, and Harry's strongest faerie ally (such as she is) he calls his "Fairy Godmother". And that cop was kicked off the force a while back, too - but is still one of the two most common female characters, along with his apprentice.

Posted on Nov 9, 2011 5:15:40 AM PST
Daniel McKay says:
I agree with kelly. Especially after reading the short story collection with the one from the point of view of karen murphy. That girl is kick-ass!

You might want to check out black as night as well. It didn't spring immediately to mind but according to the ebook tags it has a strong female and the male is definitely strong (and awesome!). I'll link you it. First one is for kindle and is waaaaay cheaper.

Black As Night (The Augmentamancer Chronicles)
Black As Night: The Augmentamancer Chronicles (Volume 1)

Posted on Nov 9, 2011 3:19:50 PM PST
Kevin McGill says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 7:13:46 PM PST
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Discussion in:  Fantasy forum
Participants:  90
Total posts:  247
Initial post:  Nov 4, 2011
Latest post:  May 16, 2015

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