How would you define being weak? Crying? Being afraid? Not being able to fight?
Let’s have a look at the heroine of the dystopian Shatter Me series- Juliette Ferrars. Juliette has an ability. Anyone who touches her feels pain to a point where they could possibly die from it. As a result she is locked up in an insane asylum for 264 days, alone until a new character is introduced as her roommate.
Throughout the first two books of the series people considered her ‘weak’, ‘cowardly’ and in many instances ‘annoying’. But these people seem to forget the things she had been through. They forget that these circumstances played a big part in shaping her fears. She had an ability that made people lock her up, isolate her for days, ridicule her – including her own parents. They found her too ‘closed up’ when she wouldn’t open up to people easily in her new setting in the second book. But would you trust easily when all you’ve seen from the world is people disliking you? At the same time, the ones present in that setting weren’t exactly inviting even though they claimed to be. Though some may say “just get over it, many people are suffering” it isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
And even if others are suffering, it doesn’t in any way make hers any less valid. The setting of the series was in fact in a time where the world was in a state of disorder, but even if in comparison hers look less important they are not any less valid. If anything, her character is relatable. It took her time to warm up to people and trust them, to gain confidence in herself and to fight for herself. Some may find her weak because she needed help from a guy, but is needing help something only the weak need? Or is it just because it’s a man? It takes time, to grow into your own person, to find your own strength, so we can’t blame someone if they take too much time, they’re still trying their best.
I think people seem to forget that even when such a heroine cries or is afraid; she too is fighting her own battle with herself so why are we belittling her? She is still strong in her own sense. Just because she is not in constant physical battle does not make her any less strong than any other heroine. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a strong, fierce, weapon-holding heroine as much as the next person. But is that the only way a woman can be considered strong?
We can learn from heroines like Juliette too. Especially when they go through a character arc, we too learn to grow with them, gain more strength with them, learn how to have more confidence in ourselves from them. Such characters are realistic and relatable so why are we complaining about them? When we are trying to empower women and not be looked down on for our ‘weaknesses’ why are we finding these women annoying for such ‘weaknesses’? As Hannah Givens stated:
A strong female character simply means a realistic woman.
Some women may be warriors and some may not be, but in the end, they each have their own different strengths and weaknesses.
So going back to my initial question- what is defined as being weak? Surely it can’t be crying or being afraid. These emotions are part of all of us. They are what make us human.
By Fawzia Morad Elmasry