Little Women: Book Jo´s feminine qualities (that many like to ignore)

Book Jo´s feminine qualities (that many like to ignore)

Niina: Somebody commented on my Instagram that there are a lot of people who say that they are like Jo, but then they are actually not at all like the book Jo, because in the book Jo, there are some boyish things that she likes but then she also likes to be a mother and she loves all boys, she wants to start a school for boys and then she also likes to knit and make clothes and she likes to read romance novels and she cries when she reads them. She adores her niece and her nephew and she loves Friedrich´s nephews. She has some very feminine qualities.

Christina: When you say that it reminded me. I made it a while ago but it sticks with me. I said something like If Jo was present in the modern-day and this is again because I was..very cringe-worthy but I was also this girl too..As 2006–2008–2012 time when the girls were just like “I am not like other girls” and they made it seem like, if you like the colour pink or if you are like this if you like make-up, you like wearing dresses, was almost like a negative quality and I think Jo would have been that type of girl at the beginning of the novel. She would have been that “I am not like the other girls-girl” and what makes her relatable at least to me is that throughout the book she realizes there is nothing really wrong with liking those things, that is why I say she learned to understand herself better. I can have some of the more stereotypical boyish qualities and still like the girly things but someone …it sticks with me forever, they replied saying “You are an idiot” and then they per-ceded to block me. They didn´t want me just long enough for me to see it and I was like “let me check that again” they blocked me and I wasn´t like saying that “oh Jo was a terrible person. No, I am saying that she is a flawed person and that is how her character grows. She grows from being “I don´t care” “girls are stupid” “boys don´t have any drama” to being like there are nice things about being a girl and there is nothing wrong with that.

It is amazing how some people just say that love Jo or know Jo and then say stuff like that I believe, maybe you have seen it someone had like favourite literally character Jo March — and then said something like “oh then they gave up their independence to marry that old professor” and I´m like first of all, you don´t know the book, if you´d knew the book you would have seen how that went down and I don´t think you really care about the character as much to say or to make a claim that Jo gave up her independence. She is not that great of a character because she did that by marrying a man that loved and supported her and honestly I think as “unromantic” as they are they probably have one of the most romantic proposal scenes I have ever seen in a book or a movie.

(laughter)

Niina: That´s true :D

Christina: It is amazing how some people just think they have an idea of a character and I almost sometimes think “that´s so Laurie of you”. You have this perceived image of what Jo is and what you want Jo to be when the truth is Jo is not like that. You just want her to be that way and it happens to be most of the time the Jo and Laurie shippers that have that sort of delusional idea of who Jo is supposed to be.

Niina: I think the whole idea of “not being like the other girls” comes from very deep misogyny. This idea is that you are better than fellow women. It is a form of misogyny and it was a trend some time ago. Hopefully not so much these days. I think one of the problems with Jo especially when she was younger was that she identified so much with the masculine that she became very misogynistic and you can see that when she makes fun of Meg wanting to go to a ball or Amy trying to impress her female friends but then she grows out of that and I think a lot of that has to do with her and Laurie´s friendship. Not fading but she is growing out of it. Laurie has some great qualities but he sort of embodies that 19th-century typical young man, the way they behaved. Jo got some really bad influences from him and he from her and I think she kind of tries to block her emotions sometimes because she feels that if people see her showing emotions, then people are going to see her weaker and when people see her weaker, she is more feminine to them. She also grows out of that as well.

Christina: That is why I think it is, even more, moving to see her character development because she goes from someone who is being so closed off “No this is not tears -I just got something in my eyes” type of person to be open to take advice from people or open to criticism or open to wanting to grow because I think it is very much cycling thing when you are told just hold it in because it is going to be seen as weak and in some way I was a very sensitive person but I was always told that in a very negative light so I was like alright you know what I am just trying to hold it in and that was not healthy at all and it was almost seen in away kind of very feminine thing “oh you know she is just an emotional little thing, poor thing”. In some cases I was right, what they said was very rude or mean but boys will be boys and you are just being too emotional over it. Having Jo learn how to be more open and accepting and to have a positive influence like her mom and Friedrich, just to name a few, that just. It´s okay, there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable. It doesn´t mean that you are weak, it just means that you are open to having other people help you and sometimes that´s the hardest thing is to admit to saying that I need help or this is bothering me or I don´t know what to do because if you are that person who is like “yeah sure I know what you´re doing, yeah I totally know that and you don´t” that can cause a lot more problems. For me, I had to sort of unlearn that behaviour because it didn´t help me in the slightest. Now I live by the motto “If I don´t know it, I´ll ask for help” I admit that I am being “an idiot” rather than make myself look even more of an idiot by pretending that I know what I am doing.

Niina: Yeah and I think it is a very long process for Jo to unlearn those habits. In Little Men, there is Nat´s character. She calls him “girly” and she sees him as weaker than the other boys because he is so sensitive, and he has similarities with Laurie. It is not that Friedrich is not sensitive. He is not as sensitive as Laurie is.. how would I put it..he is a lot more grounded, while Laurie is very idealistic, head in the clouds.

Christina: I guess if I had to think of it, Laurie is who I was when I was in school. Where I just took everything and made it full-blown as now I am more like Friedrich, where it´s like “that hurts but let´s try to see what is the best way to respond to that very sensitive moment”.

Niina: It is a much more mature response. You try not to take everything too emotionally or too personally. Laurie was like that and I think to some extent Jo was like that when she was younger.

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Niina's Fairychamber

Niina's Fairychamber

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Illustrator, writer and folklorist. Likes cats, tea and period dramas. A host of the Little Women Podcast.