2015: Katniss Everdeen, feminist role model; 2016: Katniss Everdeen, sexist stereotype
From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss: Too thin, too white, and too interested in men
From the Huffington Post‘s Cate Montana in 2015:
“The astonishing thing about Katniss — and her kick-ass blonde film peer, Tris Prior of the equally box-office smashing Divergent series — is how both players boldly display long socially undervalued feminine characteristics like compassion, empathy, gentleness, availability, vulnerability and forgiveness.
“They expand (no, they explode) the ubiquitous, highly masculine Western image of the hero — the brawny, brave, take-no-prisoners, show no weakness, give-no-quarter, steely-eyed mercenary and adventurer (think Bruce Willis). This clearly gives us a different kind of role model to emulate: heroes just as effective, just as brave and physically skilled and just as inspiring.
“Maybe more so.”
But that was 2013, 2014, and 2015. Now it’s 2016, and we have this report from Accuracy in Academia about the latest take on Katniss, from English professor Erin Kingsley of King University in Tennessee, speaking at the Modern Language Association’s January convention in Austin, Texas. To Kingsley, author of such works as “‘Nothing could be that grotesque and live’: Mapping Abject Body Space in Robert Coover’s Pinocchio in Venice,” and “Bloodless Birth: Reproduction and the Masculine Mind in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own,” Katniss Everdeen isn’t fighting sexism. She is sexism.
“Katniss Everdeen, the main character and heroine of ‘The Hunger Games’ series, ‘uses her body to shoot those wicked arrows’ throughout the three-book series. She pointed out the gender role of women in the novels, where feminism kowtows to masculinity. A constant problematic theme, in her mind, ‘like Katniss picking up her arrows,’ offended her. She said, ‘I don’t even know what to be offended for’ in reading these novels. Kingsley stated, ‘A thin, white attractive woman’ is the new normal in YA novels….
“’The female gender still operates in direct ability to inspire attraction in the male sex?”…Kingsley criticized this “heteronormativity” because ‘each experience [has] the same cultural policing’ of fatness and homosexuality. Kingsley continued on this topic, ‘In an age where diversity is given much lip service, there is diversity that does not appear.’ She told the audience, ‘I would encourage you to do a Google search on fat’ and see the dominance of ‘heterosexual love’ in YA novels….
“She criticized the media’s refusal to talk about fat bodies.’Rarely does popular media…privilege the fat body’…”
Posted by Charlotte Allen