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So, I've been thinking. As per the last item in my last post – that I am out of sync with what constitutes misogyny in the stuff I actually watch – and my general reluctance to get into that wider conversation, I thought I might take a different approach to trying to orient myself to it all by doing the 30 Days Of Female Characters meme (found here). However, given my complete inability to cope with the "favorite" phrasing, I'll probably tweak that whenever I need to in order to be able to answer the question without a daily attack of the vapours like last time. I'm trying to plan ahead, since there's a lot of potential overlap, but at the same time I may not even limit myself to one answer per question. LOOKOUT LADIES MEME INTERNET EVERYBODY.

And, like most memetiems around here, I love to have others weigh in with their opinions and answers to these questions too – in the comments here if you don't feel like doing the whole meme in your own journal. *bats eyelashes*

Day One: Favorite lead female character that you love

Margaret Hale of North & South.

Really, this was the best place for her. Otherwise she'd be hanging around the list the entire time, being a candidate for everydamnthing, even the ones she's categorically not. Of course, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm trying to figure out why I feel that way. Why Margaret rather than, say, Elizabeth Bennet or Jane Eyre?

And actually, I think part of the reason is that she stands somewhere midway between those two. Elizabeth is, like her novel, light and bright and sparkling (to use Austen's own famous judgement of the work). She is impertinent and self-involved. Jane is oppressed and obscure, stifling in all her hard-won self-possession that is the only form of freedom she can obtain for most of the book. Please don't misunderstand, I love both these ladies, their characters and journeys and stories. I find it frustrating that modern values apparently make it nearly impossible to interpret or evaluate them on their own terms, and adaptations tend to turn them into proto-feminists. And perhaps that's another clue to my pick of Margaret: set amongst the Industrial Revolution, she is dealing with issues/values that are far more identifiable to modern audiences and so doesn't get quite as distorted in adaptation. (Although it's been a lot longer since I've read N&S than JE or P&P, and there's less discussion of it generally to keep it fresh in the mind, so it's possible I'm not remembering that accurately.)

So in between one too bright and one too dark stands Margaret with a healthy dose of chiaroscuro. The circumstances certainly help: her personal agency isn't reduced to basically leaving, à la Jane (Lowood, Thornfield, the Rivers, Jane darling, this is a pattern). Her wit, intelligence and education get a much wider practical airing than Elizabeth's (who seems mostly confined to her father's library and the society of Hertfordshire). But even given that circumstances allowed her more freedom and opportunity, her balance of principle, intelligence, reserve and compassion is pleasing. She is brave and adventurous and instinctively, actively has concern for those weaker or less fortunate than she is. She has no time for pettiness or artifice, but that can also backfire because she often doesn't weigh what is being communicated; no wonder she comes to love Milton's no-nonsense ways and prefer it to London (and perhaps, eventually, even to Helstone!). She is clearly aware of class distinctions but that doesn't stop her from forming relationships of friendship and respect (even if it takes a while) with anyone of comparable intelligence and character. She maintains dignity in the face of hardship, and adapts to the situation. She makes assumptions and mistakes, but she learns from them.

If you want to read feminism into Jane and Elizabeth, then there's a much stronger case to make for proto-SJW-ism in Margaret – the IR was where social justice concerns took on their modern incarnation – which she must learn to temper to the complexity of reality. She discovers how presumptuous it is to simply import her judgements into an unknown context, and does the hard work of overcoming culture shock and prejudice in order to ultimately be able to appropriately offer them the real advantages of an outsider's perspective.

So, yeah. I love her character, her integrity, her compassion, her wisdom, her courage. I love her learning arc and her relationships. And the fact that she ends up getting Thornton? Yeah. I'm pretty okay with that too. ;)

Day One: Favorite lead female character  Margaret Hale
Day Two: Favorite supporting female character  Mary Crawford
Day Three: A female character you hated but grew to love  Scarlett O’Hara (and kinda Melly too)
Day Four: A female character you relate to  Ainsley Hayes
Day Five: Favorite female character on a male-driven show  Alma Garrett-Ellsworth
Day Six: Favorite female-driven show  The Jane Austen Book Club
Day Seven: A female character that needs more screen time  Bela Talbot
Day Eight: Favorite female character in a comedy show  Heather Jelly
Day Nine: Favorite female character in a drama show  Detective Dani Reese
Day Ten: Favorite female character in a scifi/supernatural show  Cordelia Chase
Day Eleven: Favorite female character in a children’s show  General Anna
Day Twelve: Favorite female character in a movie  docking pilot Carolyn Fry, and Fanny Chenal
Day Thirteen: Favorite female character in a book  the Lady Door of the House of the Arch
Day Fourteen: Favorite older female character  Esmerelda "Granny" Weatherwax
Day Fifteen: Favorite female character growth arc  Lori Grimes
Day Sixteen: Favorite mother character  M
Day Seventeen: Favorite warrior female character  Aisha, and Victoria Winslow
Day Eighteen: Favorite non-warrior female character  "Sophie Devereaux"
Day Nineteen: Favorite non-human female character  Daisy, Daisy Adair
Day Twenty: Favorite female antagonist  Miranda Priestly, Irene Adler, and Milady de Winter
Day Twenty-One: Favorite female character screwed over by canon  Kara Thrace/Starbuck
Day Twenty-Two: Favorite female character you love but everyone else hates  Supernatural, basically
Day Twenty-Three: Favorite female platonic relationship  Tyra Collette and Lyla Garrity
Day Twenty-Four: Favorite female romantic relationship  Dora Bianchi / Tai Hubbert
Day Twenty-Five: Favorite mother/daughter and/or sister relationship  Lady Sylvia McCordle; Louisa, Lady Stockbridge; Lady Lavinia Meredith and their Aunt Constance, Countess of Trentham
Day Twenty-Six: Favorite classical female character (from pre-20th century literature or mythology or the like)  Scheherazade
Day Twenty-Seven: A female character you have extensive personal canon for  Maggie Collins, and assorted
Day Twenty-Eight: Favorite female writer (television, books, movies, etc.)  LM Montgomery
Day Twenty-Nine: A female-centric fic rec  Twisted Princess: Belle art, Aliens Ripley meta, Women in Star Wars critique, "Choir Girl" song cover
Day Thirty: Whatever you’d like!  Mission Accomplished!

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