Tag Archives: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen is catching on fire. Why anger and defiance matter.

15 Apr


It’s here!  Squee!  The official trailer for the second movie in the Hunger Games trilogy, called Catching Fire.


Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of the Hunger Games, and of Katniss Everdeen in particular.  I’ll give you a quick summary of just what I think is so awesome about Katniss.

katniss and prim

First and foremost, she is motivated by the desire to protect her family.  She ends up in the games when she volunteers to replace her little sister, the only person whom she is absolutely certain she loves.  Katniss and her family live in a coal mining district, and they are the very poorest amongst a whole community of poor.  On the brink of starvation, the baker’s son tosses her some bread and saves her life and teaches her that survival is possible:  that she CAN live.


The baker’s son ends up in the games with her, and the turning point in the games comes when Katniss decides that Peeta is her family, too.  She would rather die than lose him.


Everything that Katniss does is motivated by her desire to protect her family:  her children (in the form of her sister Primrose and a 12 year old contestant in the games called Rue), and her husband.  Even though they are not married (they’re only 16!), the moment Katniss decides that Peeta is her family and under her protection, she becomes his wife.

saving peeta


The idea that a young woman’s life should center on her husband and her children is a story gone sadly missing from popular culture and from young adult culture in particular.  Katniss has some pretty amazing skills, but she acquired those skills in service to her family:  she hunts to feed her sister. She climbs trees to steal eggs from birds to feed her sister.  She sets snares to catch rabbits to feed her sister.


Those skills save her life.  And what does she do with her life?  She uses it to find Peeta and save him.  And then he saves her.

Back at home in District 12, Katniss has a relationship with Gale, who has helped her learn to hunt.  He is positioned as an alternate romantic possibility for Katniss, but he represents more the pressure on young women to discard husband and family than anything else.  There really is no possibility that Katniss will choose Gale.



In the Hunger Games, Peeta says “I wish I could think of some way to show them they don’t own me. That I’m not just another piece in their games.  If I’m going to die, I want to still be me.”

Together, Katniss and Peeta figure out just how to do that.  When the rules permitting two victors are rescinded at the last moment, Katniss defies the Capitol and she and Peeta agree to commit suicide.  They would rather die together than live apart.


The Capitol bends to their will, and allows both to be crowned victors, and in forcing the Capitol to bend, Katniss and Peeta have created a revolution.  The exploited, downtrodden districts, always on the brink of starvation, rebel against the Capitol. The whole society is in revolt.


And that is where Catching Fire begins.

In a previous post, a commenter wondered how it is that a nice pleasant middle-class white lady like myself could possibly love the anger and defiance of hip-hop music.


Judgy Bitch says she “loves” the “anger” and “defiance” of hip hop.

My question is – why is she so angry and what is she defying?

I was raised in the same general culture as she and I rejected it because I saw that many of the people were in fact angry and defiant for no reason. I believe this is what is also making American and British kids so depressed. They grow up surrounded by anger and defiance.

I’d like to know why Judgy Bitch holds anger and defiance in such high esteem.

Ayurvedic Yogi

I’m glad you asked, Yogi.

First of all, you seem to be confusing anger and defiance with cruelty and violence.  Here is one of the most angry, defiant people the world has ever seen:


He changed the course of a nation’s history because he was angry at how that society was treating his people, and he defied the forces of power and created a lasting change. He did so using non-violent techniques, but even Ghandi did not eschew necessary violence.

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.

Mahatma Gandhi

The short answer to your question, Yogi, is that anger gets shit done.  Defiance forces change.  Human history is one giant story about anger and defiance forcing through changes that needed to come.  Changes that benefit us all.  Changes that address injustice and turn wrongs into right.

And not coincidentally, anger and defiance expressed very publicly tends to be the domain of men.  There are women throughout history, of course, who have climbed on top of soap boxes and challenged the world to change, but they tend to be outliers.


Sojourner Truth comes to mind.  Ain’t I a woman?

I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart – why can’t she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, – for we can’t take more than our pint’ll hold. The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble. I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.

Remember when women’s rights actually meant something?

Sometimes the role of anger and defiance is thrust upon women, which does not change the fact that anger and defiance is what brought forth change.


Rosa Parks got on a bus one day and decided she had just about enough of this black folks to the back of the bus shit, and she refused to move.

She changed the world.


Katniss Everdeen is halfway between Sojourner and Rosa.  She didn’t create the games, but she volunteered to go.  She was prepared to die, but defied the gamemakers until the last moment and she won!  Now she has sparked a rebellion that could change her whole world.

And she wants that change.  But not at the expense of Peeta or Prim.  Not at the expense of her family.

And that is how you understand what kinds of anger and defiance are productive.  When anger and defiance is in service to something greater than yourself, when it does not serve just your own ends, then you are looking at anger and defiance that can change the world.

group hug

The idea that we all should all just have a group hug and try to get along and take some Prozac to deal with the unpleasant side effects of injustice is part and parcel of feminist doctrine.  It’s part of a concerted effort to portray the feminine as always and axiomatically superior to the masculine.  Men get angry and defy authority?

The stupid, angry brutes.

The only acceptable challenge to feminist supremacy is to talk softly and address the leadership deferentially and couch your argument in terms that the ladies find acceptable.  And don’t make any dick jokes, you pigs.


At first blush, it seems pretty lovely.  Why of course, we should always try to have reasonable, civil disagreements where we both listen to one another and respectfully and politely come to some sort of compromise.

That’s fine when we’re disagreeing about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.


It’s a lot less effective when we are discussing some massive social injustice in which one group is benefitting from the mass exploitation of the other.  Here is Ruth Mason-Paull explicitly stating that a debate between feminists and men’s rights activists was going to be cancelled because the MRA folks just weren’t playing along with her rules of debate.

On Mason-Paull’s Facebook page, she said “I come from a middle class belief that people can discuss things and work it out through logic and reasoning. I understand that this is at best delusional when applied to certain members of our society.”


“Certain members of our society”.  Rather like saying “those people”.

“Work through logic and reasoning” is a code word for saying “neuter masculine debate”.


Men will be permitted to speak only if they agree to abide by the rules set by women, which assumes the feminine to be superior to the masculine.  That’s pretty fucking rich, when the entire debate is supposed to address the inequities faced by men in a culture that privileges women.

I’m sorry, men.  We can’t talk about how the culture privileges women because you won’t agree to our privilege to define the term of the debate thereby proving that WOMEN HAVE AT LEAST ONE PRIVILEGE.

Can we discuss the others?


At some point, polite debate is no longer possible.  At some point, your only option is anger and defiance. That doesn’t necessarily mean that violence is required.  But any reasonable person should be prepared for it.


I’m not going to ruin Catching Fire for those not familiar with the story, but the point of polite debate has long passed by the time Katniss and Peeta set out on their Victory Tour. Everything Katniss does is to protect her family.  She tries every strategy she can think of to protect them.  But at the end of the day, she picks up a bow and allows an ocean of anger and defiance to consume her.

katniss angry

Katniss is angry.  She is defiant.  She counts on Peeta to protect her while she carries out her mission to spark a revolution.

katniss and peeta

Sometimes the only way forward is through anger.  Sometimes the only defense is defiance.  As long as you are working in service to something greater than yourself, those qualities are virtues.  Typically masculine virtues, which is what makes it so easy to sneer at them, and wonder why on earth anyone would embrace them, let alone a woman.

It’s not that hard to figure out, Yogi.  You don’t have to be a man to care about universal human rights.  You just have to be human.


You don’t have to be a man to embrace masculine virtues, or see that they ARE masculine, or understand that those virtues are forces that can be used for tremendous good, as well as for evil.

And you don’t have to like or embrace violence to understand that sometimes violence is the only choice you have left.


President Snow says he is sending us a message? Well, I have one for him. You can torture us and bomb us and burn our districts to the ground. Fire is catching. And if we burn, you burn with us!


Catching Fire and the whole Hunger Games series is all about sparking a revolution.  Making a change that has to come.  Addressing cruel injustice.  Righting wrongs.

Katniss Everdeen is the girl who lights the spark.

She does so in service to her family.

And in doing so, she finds herself.

There’s the long answer, Yogi.  I esteem anger and defiance because I understand how those things work to make the world a better place for everyone.  I defy the broader culture that would deny me the right to raise my own children.  I defy the story that my worth can only be measured in terms of economic production.  I defy the endless caveats that dependence on a man is dangerous and foolish.  I defy the relentless demands to  privilege everything feminine over everything masculine.

It makes me angry that those stories even exist.  Angry for my son, my brothers, my husband, my father, my friends, for every man who suffers under a regime that defines them as less than women.

That anger makes me speak.

And it makes me feel like myself.

And it really, really makes me want to take up archery.


The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lots of love,


Peeta versus Gale? Oh, please. No contest.

27 Nov

As you all know, I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games and I could not be more excited about the upcoming film of the second part of the trilogy, called Catching Fire.  I can’t wait to see the magnificent Katniss Everdeen back in ass kicking action, protecting her man and her pseudo-child (really her sister).


And yes, kids, there will be spoilers.  Here are some pictures from the set of Catching Fire, currently filming in Hawaii.  The story is that Katniss and her much older mentor Haymitch get selected to participate in the 75th Hunger Games, but Peeta steps up and shoves Haymitch out of the way, because there is no way in hell he will let Katniss go back to the arena without him.

And Gale?  Gale is not even in the running.  He’s back at home, sulking in the woods as Peeta goes and puts his life on the line.  The conflict between Peeta and Gale is really just a metaphor for the social pressures girls face to make terrible choices regarding their life partner.  The story is set up as if Katniss must choose between them, but she makes her choice in the first book (Peeta) and the rest of the trilogy is about her resisting the pressure to betray Peeta.

Gale is presented as the Alpha Male choice. He helps Katniss hunt and feed her family, although he did it rather begrudgingly at first.  He tries to get Katniss to run away with him, abandon her sister and mother.  “We could do it,” he tells Katniss, “take off and live in the woods. It’s what we do anyways.”  Obviously, Katniss is having none of that.

Gale goes on to resent Katniss’ relationship with Peeta, guilt-trip her about aligning her interests with Peeta to keep them both alive and sulking over her deep emotional bond with the man who saved her life.  Basically he’s an asshole.   The crystallizing moment for Gale’s character comes when someone asks Katniss if she has ever shot a hummingbird. She finds the question absurd.  Why would anyone shoot a hummingbird? They’re too small to eat, and such beautiful little creatures anyways.  Who would do that?


Okay, he doesn’t shoot them.  But he immediately comes up with a plan for how you could use a baby hummingbird to lure the older birds and trap and kill them all.  For Gale, winning is all that matters.  He will make any sacrifice, pay any price, take any life, as long as he can win.  When Gale says to Katniss “I love you”, what he means is “I love me, and I want you to love me too”.

Peeta feeds Katniss, too.  His family owns the bakery in District 12 and when they are just children and Katniss is on the verge of starving to death, Peeta gives her some bread, which inspires her to learn how to forage and find the food she needs to feed herself and her little sister. And then Peeta steps back.  He just watches Katniss, lets her learn and grow and develop confidence and a sense of her own self and power and he waits for her to remember.  When they are both selected to go to the Hunger Games, Katniss DOES remember and she chooses.  She chooses Peeta.

When Peeta says to Katniss, “I love you,” what  he means is “I see you, Katniss Everdeen.  I see your beauty, I see your flaws, I see everything about you and I want to walk through life with you.  I will soothe you when you are hurt and rely on you when you are strong and together we can face anything.  Trust me.”

What Peeta offers is security, safety and leadership.  It’s Peeta who is the Alpha Male.  He will be the Captain of their ship, and he will do anything to keep Katniss safe.  Even safe from herself.  As the story goes on, Katniss and Peeta are physically separated and Katniss must confront herself without Peeta’s leadership.  It isn’t very pretty.  She descends into madness, essentially, and Gale pushes her along the very worst path she could choose.

Of course, Peeta and Katniss triumph in the end, and Katniss learns to allow Peeta to decide how best to live their lives together.  The fact that the decision was so difficult and fraught says a lot about how young women in our culture are invited to view men and relationships.  Women are taught to fear men’s natural leadership instincts.  Peeta is quite literally a bread-winner.  He bakes bread.  That’s his JOB.

Once women have children, the vast majority of them realize that having a bread winner husband and a wife at home full time is the ideal family situation. And most of those women will discover that they have not made decisions that allow for that.  Our entire culture is set up to actively PREVENT men from taking on their roles as the head of a family.  The school system is geared to fail boys, especially white working class boys from the get go.  The workplace has outsourced traditional male jobs that paid a family wage and kept women’s low paid work, ensuring that women have to work to pay for the basic necessities of life.


It all rests on the assumption that most men are selfish, bad monsters who will abuse and take advantage of their poor downtrodden wives trapped in monotonous, meaningless lives in a sea of bungalows and concrete.  The old Betty Friedan story.  The problem with no name, she called it.

Oh, it has a name, all right.  It’s called being a selfish bitch. The real crux of the matter is that women WANT a man to provide for them, but they don’t want to pay any price for that.  We have set up a society that forces ALL men EVERYWHERE to pay for women,  all the while demanding NOTHING from the women.

And that right there is bullshit.  The price for having a Captain on your ship is to carry out orders as you are directed.  The Captain will listen to you, take your advice under serious consideration, respect your expertise and experience, but at the end of the day, he accepts the responsibilities of command and you accept the obligation to trust the Captain.  That’s how great societies are built, and how families survive and how women, men and children “have it all”.  That intertwining of responsibility and obligation is what love IS. Katniss loves Peeta because he feels responsible for her.  He WANTS to be responsible for her.  It is only when she accepts that Peeta’s love comes with an obligation of trust that she finds peace and happiness, and sees the future and believes in it.

Pick the boy with the bread.  Choose love.  Team Peeta all the way.

Lots of love,


Katniss Everdeen is an awesome role model for girls because her life is all about children and family. And she will kill you if you try to fuck with her.

25 Oct

Katniss Everdeen is a girl with a useless twat of a mother who goes into crippling depression when her husband dies and is fully prepared to let her children starve to death.  So Katniss has to take responsibility and become a mother and in doing so,  she models for young women what a mother should be.  Her own mother is self-absorbed to the point of catatonia, and when she DOES finally get her shit together, she pays more attention to her “job” than her children.  Nice.

Katniss can’t do it alone, of course.  This is no “strong single mother” narrative.  She has not just one, but two men who help her.  Peeta goes first, tossing her some bread and then Gale, who helps her hunt and teaches her different techniques, like snaring.  She is never alone.  She lives in the woods with Gale. Peeta lives quietly in her heart, until the Reaping. When Katniss’ daughter/sister Primrose is selected to fight to the death, Katniss does what any good mother would do – she offers her life in exchange for her child’s.  Exactly what Katniss’ mother did not do for her two children.

And when Peeta gets chosen as the boy tribute, it sets in motion a story that is all about protecting a husband and children and family and being prepared to kill anyone who threatens that family.  Katniss’ own desires are secondary to protecting and caring for others.  Her love for Prim puts her in the arena and she kills only to protect her other child, Rue.  When Katniss is unable to save Rue, she spirals into grief, but it does not cripple her.  When the gamemakers announce that two tributes can be crowned victors if they both originate from the same district, Katniss is determined to save Peeta.  Peeta becomes her husband at that moment, whether she sees it or not.  She ACTS like a wife, and shows young girls what it means to be loyal and strong and brave and to put family above all else.

Katniss nearly loses her life when she goes to get medicine for Peeta.  Clove, a mentally deranged psychopath with a penchant for throwing knives battles with Katniss and very nearly kills her.  It is not an accident that Clove is a young woman.  Woman are always the cruelest to other women.  And once again, Katniss is saved by a man.  Thresh kills Clove and lets Katniss live as a reward for her kindness and care towards little Rue.  The message is clear.  Care for children and love them properly and men will love you.  Spend your time perfecting your skills (like throwing knives for fun and murder), attack women who are willing to sacrifice everything for their husbands and families and you will have your neck snapped like a dry twig.

When the gamemakers rescind their rule and try to get Katniss to kill Peeta, she reacts with a great big FUCK YOU.  She would rather die with him than triumph with her own life.  And she wins.  By putting Peeta above her own desire to live, she wins the game and goes on to take down the whole system that would punish her for loving a man and children more than her own life.

Katniss Everdeen is truly a hero for young women.  Young women are growing up in a culture that tells them they should always put their own needs and desires first.   That it is a moral triumph to live only for yourself.  Your needs, your desires, your goals, your ambitions, your own personal fulfillment should trump everything and everyone else.  Even your husband.  Even your children.  I hope young women who read the Hunger Games get the message and respond to the wider culture with a great big FUCK YOU.  Choose Peeta, girls.  Chose Primrose.  Choose Rue.  Choose love.  Choose their lives over yours. You just might find it the most fulfilling thing of all.

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