I’ve always had this tendency to apologize for everything—even things that aren’t my fault, things that actually hurt me or were wrongs against me.
It’s become automatic, a compulsion I am constantly fighting. Even more disturbingly, I’ve discovered in conversations with my female friends that…
Oh, this is fantastic. Long post, but read the whole thing. Unlikeable heroines 4eva.
These are the “difficult” characters. They demand our love but they won’t make it easy. The unlikable heroine provokes us. She is murky and muddled. We don’t always understand her. She may not flaunt her flaws but she won’t deny them. She experiences moral dilemmas, and most of the time recognizes when she has done something wrong, but in the meantime she will let herself be angry, and it isn’t endearing, cute, or fleeting. It is mighty and it is terrifying. It puts her at odds with her surroundings, and it isn’t always easy for readers to swallow.
She isn’t always courageous. She may not be conventionally strong; her strength may be difficult to see. She doesn’t always stand up for herself, or for what is right. She is not always nice. She is a hellion, a harpy, a bitch, a shrew, a whiner, a crybaby, a coward. She lies even to herself.
In other words, she fails to walk the fine line we have drawn for our heroines, the narrow parameters in which a heroine must exist to achieve that elusive “likability.”
As someone who struggles a LOT with the need to apologize for everything and a need to of not be liked then at least not rub anyone the wrong way either, ever, this really hit close to home.
I never thought about it having anything to do with being a woman, and I don’t know if it does for me, there’s other factors too, but I won’t deny that it’s very possible.
But it’s something I have fought with for so long. I’m getting better. But still, every time I DO get angry or upset or rightfully pissed off, there’s someone ready to smooth over the folds, making me feel like, even when my anger is justified, it still shouldn’t be there.
And I’m not an angry person. I don’t have much of a temper. When I get angry, it’s if someone is treating someone else poorly. I don’t get explosive or start calling names, I just stop trying to please them. Stop listening to them. But even that anger is too much.
Amazing article!! I never thought about it in this context — but I have had a couple female characters that fit the description of “unlikable” very well, and I’ve always enjoyed playing them for that reason.
I definitely struggle a lot with the need to apologize and with striving to be liked. This caused a lot of problems for me when I was a forum admin — but that experience also helped to break me out of the delusion that I COULD be universally liked, and more importantly, that I SHOULD strive to be the golden girl. Maybe that’s why I started playing unlikable characters around the same time?
Anyway, great article! Give it a read!