Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Katniss Everdeen is Asexual--And Why That's Important

The Hunger Games made a big splash in the young adult world back when it was first published in 2008. Since then, a lot of authors have been trying to recreate the success of The Hunger Games series, but none have quite reached the same rate of popularity.

As happens with most popular YA series lately, The Hunger Games was made into a movie franchise; and it wasn't nearly as disappointing as it could have been. The most disappointing thing was the way the love triangle was treated in the media (and the various make-up and fashion lines that were created for the movie, but that's a story for another day).

So in the books: Katniss does legitimately have to decide between Gale and Peeta; she cares for the both of them, for different reasons. Where the movies get this wrong is the amount that Katniss actually thinks about these things.

She has a lot more on her mind than whether she's going to end up with Gale or Peeta. But, that's what much of the media was focused on with the release of the movies, which can be seen here, here, and here.

This emphasis on relationships is damaging for multiple reasons: it trivializes the very real problems that The Hunger Games deals with, it reduces Katniss's power as a female character, and shifts the emphasis of the series as a whole. And, the purpose of this article, it erases Katniss's asexuality from the series.

While there are several hints dropped throughout the series that hint at Katniss's identity as an asexual, the strongest support for her identity comes from the final book in the series, Mockingjay:
"Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can't survive without."
This quote, from Gale, shows how Katniss thinks about love and romance throughout the entire series; in the beginning, she uses her relationship with Peeta to survive the first Games. In Catching Fire, she is prepared to use her relationship with Gale to run away from the Capitol and from the Games. In Mockingjay, she's confused about her feelings for both Gale and Peeta, and as Gale points out, she will choose who she needs to survive. This is even seen in her quote when she realizes that she needs Peeta:
"That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that."
These moments are lost in the movies, which are much more focused on the romance (kind of like the Capitol is in the books). It's important to note that Katniss shows these traits throughout the entire series, and they are not just something that happen because of Katniss's trauma.

The erasure of Katniss's asexuality in the movies follows a trend of erasure of asexuality in the media in general. And this is dangerous. In a society that is extremely sexually driven (just watch pretty much any fragrance commercial), the asexual community needs these models, to show them that they are not alone and their feelings are valid. We need to keep including these characters in the literature, even if they keep getting erased when they make it to the big screen.

No comments:

Post a Comment