Dr. Raley states that gender is something we “do” or perform through dress, behavior, and speech. Depictions of gender appear in the media. Katniss Everdeen is often evaluated by literary critics because Katniss defies typical gender norms. Katniss and Peeta’s relationship also contradicts the formula usually used in media of a male hero and dependent female in need of protection. Katniss displays more “masculine” than feminine characteristics. She is a protector/provider for her family. She is adept in hunting, faces danger, expresses anger rather than sadness, and she is strong, emotionally and athletically. She also has some feminine attributes like being conventionally attractive, and keeps to herself, but these are not as pronounced as her strong “male” qualities.
In many modern movies, a theme often portrayed is women abandoning their independence in favor of settling down, or a more traditional lifestyle. If the main character is male and the story includes romance, then the woman is the “prize.” Women in media are either hypersexualized or chaste, making their sexuality an essential aspect of the character. Katniss is chaste. She is uncomfortable around nudity, doesn’t struggle with sexual tension, and is inexperienced. However, romance and Katniss’ lack of sexuality does not add or detract from the story. Peeta furthers the reversal of gender roles by being the typical “movie girlfriend”: in need of saving and protecting.
Although Katniss’ “love triangle” with Peeta and Gale is an important part of the story, The Hunger Games isn’t classified as a romance. Even without Katniss’ feelings, the series would still be a dystopian fiction about revolution and the Hunger Games. The romance aspect of the story is added to appeal to young adult readers and make Katniss more relateable.
image from moviepilot.com