“The Gender-Neutral Games”

Okay, call me a nerd, but I am obsessed with Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. I couldn’t resist but blog about it for this class when I stumbled upon an article, written by Tarina Quraishi of the Harvard Crimson, about gender roles within the novels (and the recently released movie).

The Hunger Games, which is the first book of Collins’ trilogy, is a tale of a future world in which, every year, a girl and a boy from each of the 12 districts outlined in the novel must fight to the death in a battle (called the Hunger Games) which is impassively televised for the world to watch.

I will only be speaking about a small section of Quraishi’s article in which she brings to light that none of the characters are restrained to gender roles. Katniss, the main character, is a herione, displaying qualities of fierceness, artistry, and strength. Peeta, the boy who goes with her into the games, is a baker’s son, who’s only knowledge lies in the realm of baking bread and frosting cakes. However, the novel does not belittle Peeta or question his masculinity because of this, as does it not question the femininity of Katniss for her “masculine” traits.

Many feminist reviewers have applauded Collins for the female empowerment that her novels evoke, and would probably deem Katniss a feminist role model. But it seems to me that doing so would be similar to saying “Thank you for making Katniss an awesome woman by making her seem more like a man”, which is why I would like to suggest that a new era of feminism needs to be evolved.

The ignorance of gender roles seems more sensible than does pushing girls and women to believe that acting more like a man is what makes you a great woman. The fact that The Hunger Games simply doesn’t put restrictions on gender roles is what makes it revolutionary. Quraishi puts it perfectly in the last paragraph of her article:

The Hunger Games largely avoids the restrictive lens of gender. Within Collins’ literary world, Katniss is characterized neither as feminine nor as feminist; she is merely a complex, humanized character. Perhaps this is the real victory of the Games.

So the quintessential point of this post is that Suzanne Collins did an excellent job breaking down the restrictive walls of gender roles, and that instead of her work being praised for its so-called “female empowerment”, it should be praised for its “gender-role-rejection…ment?”.

Harvard Crimson Article: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/3/26/Hunger-Games-Gender/

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One Response to “The Gender-Neutral Games”

  1. It’s completely typical for pop culture to attempt to render a strong female character by essentially making her a man with a vagina. This gets back to what I have called femmephobia – the common belief that’s what really restrictive/undesirable about women is their femininity. And so you have females calling male’s masculinity into question by labeling them “bitches” or heroines who succeed among men because she has proven herself to be able to do the same things men do. You see this “chicks-with-dicks” archetype in mainstream action fare like Transformers and Fast Five.

    Maybe I’ll get around to reading Hunger Games this summer.

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