We’ve come a long way from finicky fairy princesses who snooze through the most exciting scenes of the story in an enchanted sleep. Today’s princesses not only fight their own battles, they often have time between breaking curses and defeating monsters to put a cocky prince or two back in his place.
While, as the parent of a girl, I’m excited to see these literary ladies take an active role in their stories, what worries me is the withdrawal of the hero. He’s stands around awkwardly, waiting for the girl to finish wrapping up the conflict so he can maybe, possibly slip in a kiss?
Again – I love the messages in these stories that teaches girls that they are a force to be reckoned with, that they can be brave and fight their own adversaries. And do I want my daughter growing up thinking she must have a man in her life in order to be happy? Of course not.
But I’d like it if her literature did a little more to point out what makes a man worthy of a lifetime commitment. These passive guys featured alongside some of YA’s fiercest chicks just aren’t worth a girl’s time, in my opinion. Where are the men? The real men. The heroes worthy of these modern warrior princesses.
One of my favorite things about The Hunger Games is Peeta’s character. When I first read the series, I worried that he would be a soft, sweet, awkward boy that Katniss couldn’t help mothering. Sure, he’s got the baker-boy-who-can-lift-flour-sacks thing going for him. But could he hold his own in the face of the whirlwind that is Katniss?
And he does. Without his sense of strategy, she would be lost. Without his cleverness, neither of them would survive the games. Her skill and knowledge save them as well, but together they are a powerful team. Each one’s strengths compliment the other’s weaknesses. I love it. I love the message about crafting an admirable relationship with someone who uses their strengths to protect you. These are the things I want my daughter to look for in a man someday.
I want to see more books that craft those sorts of balanced relationships. I’ll have to keep a list of the ones I come across in my own reading and post it here in the future. Because I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to see strong young men in YA alongside the ladies.