Extroverted Girls Introverted Women
by rachel funderburk
At the Brooklyn Book Festival, Jenny Zhang—poet, essayist, & Rookie writer—and Julie Buntin—teacher & first-time novelist—share their thoughts about literary archetypes and normalities—a discussion reaching to figure out just where the heroic female figures we read about in girlhood disappear to as we grow up.
JENNY - "LENA DUNHAM'S FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR"
“Being a young girl was a bodily experience” Jenny muses,
"...always having newer and newer expectations to live up to or be wrong in or whatever.”
“Girlhood was a humiliating time,” Julie echoes back,
“but reading became a bold and complex inner life without having to let that part of me escape.”
Jenny and Julie both evaded the troubles of girlhood through books. Books about girls just being silly. Books about girls being sent to the English country side or living on the prairie. Books where wretched girls make something from nothing and “pull themselves up by their princess straps.” Books where the young protagonist is a bold, powerful, and unstoppable female force.
When you’re a girl and you feel differently on the inside than you dare present on the outside, these large, fantastical adventures draw you in. Reading about these unabated young ladies makes you feel like maybe you can take on the world too…maybe it’s not so impossible.
So what happens to our lovably loud-mouthed young heroines? Where do they go as we, and our writings, grow up?
Jenny poses, “at a very young age women are dissuaded from what they want and even thinking about what they want. These narratives take place before they’re shamed out of it. It’s an archetype to think of girls as ‘extroverted’ and women becoming more ‘introverted’ in the sense that this is the arc of becoming a woman in the world—realizing that for everything you dare to do, you will be attacked., punished, and violated, so why would you continue to do that when you could just go into yourself like a freaking snail?”
We write the characters we see. It seems to me that most of the books starring an outspoken female protagonist are ones written from a young girl’s point of view or biographies. Do we feel like the only times we’re allowed to speak boldly and dare proudly are when we are young or once we’ve already made it? As much as I enjoy reading the biographies of great women, I want adventure tales for grown women! Adventures where women are unapologetic and determined and fearless. Adventures where she gallivants her way into her meeting, slays her dragon of an everyday task, and where her inner dialogue becomes emboldened, spoken words. Adventures where they don’t so much have to be fantastical daydreams as just an everyday women standing up for herself and getting the hard shit done. The world expects so much out of us. We don’t always get there, and that’s ok. I want to read about that too.
I’ll leave you with this—a little ancient inspo to leave you thinking about the roles we create for our leading ladies.
“She wasn’t looking for a knight, she was looking for a sword” -Atticus
Send us your favorite books featuring unrelenting kickass women—we’ll inspire some fire with an all-gal, all-in book list. Better yet, go write some of your own! Let’s help our heroines grow up; let’s live lives worthy of being written about, and let’s dream just as boldly as we did in girlhood—that’s a story worth reading.
Rachel Funderburk, Author
Rachel is a part of the Gold Hand Journalism Team
Heyo! I'm Rachel Funderburk, and I'm from Edmond, Oklahoma soon to be in New York City studying business and film at NYU. I'm all about girl power, creative vibes, and world travels, and I spend most of my time obsessing over my dogs, filling my home with plants, rewatching 80s movies, and listening to a ridiculous amount of political podcasts. I'm so glad to join this passionate and powerful group of gals, and I hope you'll enjoy my writings!
You can follow Rachel on @rachelfundy
Kat Harris, Graphixs
Kat is a part of the Gold Hand Graphics Team
Hey! My name is Kat Harris, and I'm from Dallas, TX. I go to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and I am a Graphic Design and Advertising/Public Relations double major. I love music and have a serious habit of making playlists (so check out my Spotify --Kathryn Harris). Some of my favorite bands are Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Local Natives, and The Temper Trap. I’m interested in photography, design, and really anything art-related. I love to find inspiration in everything I do and strive to be constantly creating and expressing myself!
You can follow Kat on Instagram @groovy.kat
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