That this category continues to thrive, and to spawn essays and blog posts -- including this one! -- points directly to the underlying problem: We are issuing prescriptive dos and don'ts about the depiction of women as if they are a separate, exotic species.
When a female character is given full license to explore the boundaries of her humanity -- in all directions -- she represents pure possibility for the women on the other side of the screen or the page, consuming the story.
What does the "strong female character" imply? It gives a special category to women who are nuanced, who are capable of embodying contradictions. But that is the human condition, and to imply that such a woman is not the norm strips all females of their essential humanity
Today I am thinking specifically about some of the strong female characters who have been featured and memorialized in literature. I've come up with a list of fiction and nonfiction books that unfold around these characters.
A real person has conflicting feelings all the time and contradicts themselves by accident (as much as we hate to admit it), and it's okay because we're all human. We don't know what we want or how we feel. Or we do. Both is fine. But characters everywhere need to do the same to come alive.