Since talking about female protagonists, I feel it is also necessary to talk about the flip side. True, male protagonists have been represented for centuries, but is it a true representation?
Are men like in the fairy tales, handsome, noble and righteous or ugly, devious and evil? Are there only two sides to a man? And the most important question of all: Is a male protagonist only as good as what he does?
The answer to all of these is an emphatic NO!
Like women, men are complex creatures with hopes, fears, frailties and emotional scars. Men might keep things bottled up and it manifests in strange actions while we remain silent about how we feel.
This is not the case in writing. With the written word, we can finally add words to our inner voice to properly articulate our feelings. Male characters are never better written than when we see them as they are: beaten and broken, fearful and doubting. Only by viewing the protagonist’s soul can we truly appreciate it when he defeats his demons, vanquishes the Dark Lord, etc.
Male protagonists are constantly being held up as the ultimate man. Rude. Strong. Handsome in a way that makes women quiver. The man with a golden tongue and with the wisdom to do everything.
Whether male or female, readers always want to peer past the exterior and see the humanity within. If the heart of humanity (love, fear, anger, joy, courage) do not inspire you, then what is the point of reading?
Writing has always been about baring our souls to the world even if it is only the tiniest shard of who we are. That’s why writing matters. It’s not just about whether to write a male or female character. That’s irrelevant. What truly matters is that we convey the heart of the story to our readers. They deserve nothing less.