How female characters can have a powerful influence on girls
Research certainly points to the fact that girls need strong role models from which they can form their own identity. If a girl is surrounded by women who can offer her positive attitudes, all the better. However, it is important not to underestimate how powerful female fictional characters can be and what kind of influence they can have. Importantly, we should be employing them to help shape our daughters’, and granddaughters’, views of themselves, and their visions of who they want to become.
Alice in Wonderland: A role model
Alice in Wonderland is probably one of the first female characters many girls meet. When the book was written it was unusual for a woman to take the lead role, never mind about a little girl.
But, Lewis Carroll gave us a strong role model who is marked by her incessant curiosity and never failing courage. Alice’s adventures are legendary and they are her reward for her strength of character, not to mention, her inability to take ‘no’ for an answer.
Alice is a sensible girl for the most part, but a bit reckless too. Fancy, accepting the advice on those bottles labelled ‘drink me’! She knows a villain when she sees one in the Queen of Hearts, and is naturally suspicious of the pipe smoking caterpillar, and the grinning cat. Whackos!
Alice’s most redeeming feature is her ability to reflect and curb her more audacious inclinations. As well, when she makes a mistake, she moves on with her head held high, and picks up where she left off. I couldn’t think of a more significant role model to begin my granddaughter’s education.
Women role models from literature
As girls grow they should be introduced to women of literature whose courage and determination make them noteworthy, and stand outs as powerful role models.
There are, of course, many strong female roles but perhaps my favorites are Maggie Tulliver, Mill on the Floss, Jane, Jane Eyre, and Lizzie Bennet, Pride and Prejudice. Although confined by the restrictions set by their respective societies and eras, these amazing women hinted to us that not all women should be powerless and subservient. They bent the roles, pushed the boundaries, and refused to be stereotyped regardless of who was watching or what was at stake, sometimes paying the highest price.
Modern female role models and writers
Of course, modern times calls for modern women to take the lead. Today’s teens have some very impressive women to lead and guide them too.
With Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, and Lisbeth Salander, from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I feel today’s generation are in good hands.
Having been a student of, Women who run with Wolves, I know why girls need strong, confident and resilient role models. For example, while Little Red Riding Hood shared Alice’s curiosity, she lacked Alice’s courage. Perhaps if she had she would have bopped that wicked wolf on the nose and spent a lovely afternoon with her grandmother instead.
I also must mention Caroline Paul’s, Gutsy Girl. I purchased a copy for a friend, a true gutsy girl, who walked the Kokoda Trail on her own. Once I read it, I realized that Paul’s accounts of her adventures; her amazing courage and her recklessness tempered with a whimsical bravado, where enthralling and needed to be celebrated. She soon became a role model I was excited about sharing so I purchased a copy for my granddaughter. At the time of writing this she is just one year old, but when she is older I will present it to her.
Her name is after all, Emma Jane; named after my daughter’s favorite fictional characters – Emma Woodhouse and Jane Eyre. Proof, I believe that I did something right in her education; filling her heart and her mind with powerful female characters from literature so much so she named her daughter after two of them.
About the author - Susan Day
Susan Day is an author of 15 books and a content marketer. Her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips for grandparents who want to build a strong relationship with their grandchildren. In particular, Susan specializes in helping grandparents share their love of books with their grandchildren. Susan is currently writing a book titled, The Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing!
Susan lives in Australia with four dogs, three boss cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo. And, apart from blogging, writing and reading; she loves drinking coffee, painting and learning to box.