When our strong women characters get written out

Dear Dad,

Have you seen that archer viral video going around? It’s pretty cool. Archer Lars Andersen has studied old paintings and manuscripts to better understand forgotten archery techniques, and demonstrates how to shoot quickly and accurately through a host of challenges. It’s really mind blowing, and satisfies my interest in archery and history in one fell swoop:

However, I have one issue with this, and it’s not with the video; it’s with the way the video is being written again. I first noticed it in The Nerdist’s write up of the video. The article said on-screen archers are popular right now, citing Green Arrow, Hawkeye and Legolas. True, all these are on-screen archers, but Katniss Everdeen, one of the most popular fictional characters with a bow right now, was completely forgotten.

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Another article, from bleedingcool.com, was titled “Move over Hawkeye, Green Arrow, and Legolas, there’s a new archer in town.” These archers are “pretty darn cool,” but again, Katniss doesn’t get a mention.

And it’s not that Katniss is unpopular. None of the three Hobbit movies, released around the same time as The Hunger Games films, have grossed as much as the dystopian trilogy about the archer girl from District 12. Covergirl even released a makeup line inspired by the films (which made me a little uncomfortable considering the books’ attitude toward fashion and frivolous consumption but I digress).

But I suspect that is part of the problem: Katniss is a woman. She’s feminine and in our society, feminine is considered superficial and less important than masculine things. Katniss is a dynamic character, with strengths, flaws and goals, and she’s good enough with a bow to fight her way out of an arena. She did make an appearance in the video, briefly, in a segment about how movie archers shoot wrong, but in coverage of this viral video, she is forgotten.

This is erasure, Dad. We have a female main character known for her archery, and yet male supporting characters get mentioned when discussing archery in film and television. I can’t help but be reminded of the female scientists who are not taught about in school in favor of their male counterparts. This casually forgetting strong women lowers women’s visibility. It tells other women that our stories and accomplishments are not as important as men’s, and it erases our history for the girls who come after us. As a child, I didn’t think women could be funny because I didn’t know any great female comedians. I didn’t think women could be scientists because instead of Rosalind Franklin, we studied Watson and Crick.

It’s a small thing, I know, but I would have liked to see Katniss mentioned in these articles. I would have liked to see women represented.

Love,
Victoria

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