Femininity and Detectives

by bdhesse

I was sitting outside of a classroom earlier today listening to the most interesting discussion. The class was talking about detective fiction and female tropes within them. They discusses the idea of the damsel in distress, and how logic and rationality are considered male characteristics.

The bit that I found the most interesting was the idea that novels that change the narrative around doesn’t actually change the gender characterizations. The example given was The Girl Who Plays With Fire. They mentioned that, despite a strong, rational female character, the gender tropes are still the same. Lisbeth is not seen as a female portraying feminine behaviours, she is a female who is acting like a male. On the other side of it, they discussed The Baskerville Hound. That is a Sherlock Holmes novel where the men become more afraid and irrational. The class discussed how the men weren’t taking a male role, they were taking the role of stereotypical females. This is because they grew afraid and irrational, which are generally thought to be female characteristics.

What do you think of the idea of feminine tropes in novels? Is this a problem? If so, how can we change the tropes?