Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gender, Relations, and Romance in the Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins has been recognized for portraying a strong female protagonist in a way that no other author successfully has. She managed to create Katniss as a strong, independent yet still emotionally vulnerable young woman. Katniss shows many traits and abilities that seem exclusively male. She hunts with a bow and arrow, can be emotionally reserved, and is essentially the "man of the house." However, she has a soft spot for her younger sister Prim and her ally Rue.

A huge aspect of gender expression is appearance, including make up and clothes. Katniss wears only grey and dark clothes and no makeup in District 12, but she is styled to be "on fire"in the Capitol.  Katniss does not feel empowered or even comfortable when Cinna and his style team make her look beautiful in the eyes. She feels most confident when they make her look powerful. Because they are of the highest social class, Cinna even being a renowned fashion designer, Capitol residents do not subscribe to the gender and dress expectations that apply to the rest of Panem. Cinna wears gold eye liner and all capitol men put a lot of time into their grooming.  This parallels high class people now, like celebrities, who are socially allowed to dress in clothes that may seem feminine or masculine.

Another proposed aspect of being a girl, according to media and teen fiction, is a preoccupation with love and men. The Bechdel test, a test used to determine if a movie is sexist, applies to an alarming number blockbusters, but not the Hunger Games. This test has three simple criteria: Are there two females in the movie? Do they talk to each other? Do they talk about something other than a man?
Katniss shatters the stereotypes if obsessive teenage girls. She has much more to think about than boys, despite the efforts of Gale and Peeta to win her attention and her love. Some may switch this stereotypical girl characterization to Peeta, viewing him as "the movie girlfriend." He loves Katniss more than life itself and needs her to rescue him multiple times. 

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