Katniss Everdeen is NOT a blank slate.
Can we please stop forcing things onto Katniss Everdeen to make her a pinnacle of representation?
I’m not saying Katniss shouldn’t be a representative character or that she shouldn’t inspire people. She absolutely should and she absolutely does. But there are a lot of people that try to categorize her as this thing, or that, and that’s not who Katniss Everdeen is.
- Katniss Everdeen is olive skinned. That doesn’t automatically make her a WOC. If you read her as a WOC, that is perferctly fine. Because ‘olive skinned’ is an ambiguous descriptor. So it’s also perfectly okay to have read her not as a WOC. ‘Olive skin’ can represent a number of backgrounds, including white European. People from Greece, Italy, and Spain can be considered olive skinned and are still, according to Tumblr, white.*
- Katniss Everdeen is not asexual or bisexual or a lesbian. I’m not saying it would be a bad thing if she was. And if you wish to believe it, as a fanon interpretation, then go for it. But taking Katniss’ lack of understanding of sex and intimacy as a canon proof that she is any of those things is a huge leap. There is context within the books that shows she is sexually attracted to one person. That person is Peeta.
That being said - Katniss’ relationship with Peeta is canon. This is not merely a ‘fan-created’ relationship. They are together. She has feelings for him. This isn’t something that developed in one or two books. This is a relationship that grew and progressed over all three novels. There is no ‘love triangle’ in the sense that Katniss can’t decide who she wants to be with. She decides very early only, and it’s evident in Mockingjay who her choice is when she uses Gale in order to ‘forget’ Peeta (something even Gale doesn’t go along with for very long). She doesn’t ‘settle’ with Peeta. She chooses Peeta. Her choice.
- Katniss Everdeen isn’t a puppet who is being manipulated and controlled by everyone. Stop taking her agency away. I’ve seen it done in so many different ways - Peeta forced her into a relationship and/or to have kids, Gale knew her better than she knew herself and that’s why he acted that way, Haymitch did such and such, Cinna coerced her into being the Mockingjay - all of these are examples of things people have actually said, and none of them are true. Is it true that people were obviously using Katniss for their own gain? Yes. Does that mean she went along with it without question? NO. Katniss is not some innocent little girl who is being controlled by everyone. She’s not an android. In the same light, she’s also not completely blameless. Katniss makes mistakes. A lot of them. She’s not Ms. Perfection. She fucks up. She’s selfish and immature and that’s okay. It’s okay to put those things on her because that’s who she is.
- Katniss is not a ‘badass warrior woman’ who doesn’t need love or protecting. She doesn’t do everything on her own like she’s Wonder Woman. Is she fiercely independent? Absolutely! That doesn’t mean people don’t help her. Katniss receives more help than any other character in the book. She’s not out there single-handedly taking down the Government. She doesn’t kill Snow (he dies on his own from whatever affliction the poison caused). She doesn’t take up this mantle of ‘savior’ by herself without any regard for anybody else. She actually doesn’t even fight for anybody but herself and those closest to her until pretty late in the series (the scene in District 8 in Mockingjay was the turning point). She is what she is because she has to be. Just because she is the provider for her household does not mean she’s mature, or super fierce, or a badass. She is just someone who did what she needed to to survive. She is the epitome of the reluctant hero.
- Katniss is the Mockingjay. She is the symbol of the rebellion. Nobody else can be given this mantle. Not Rue. Not Peeta. Not Cinna. Katniss. Katniss Everdeen is the Mockingjay. Those around her act like catalysts spurring her into action (especially Peeta). That doesn’t make them the real Mockingjay. Even if it’s a symbol Katniss takes on begrudgingly, she’s still that symbol. It’s still something that belongs to her.
- These books are about Katniss Everdeen. People like to say ‘these books are really a commentary on media and society, etc. etc.’ And yes, to a certain extent that is true. They are a commentary on media and war. But that doesn’t mean that Katniss’ story isn’t important. That she isn’t the focal point. Because she is. This is her story. You wouldn’t have a story without this girl. It’s all told from her perspective. She is integral.
Now if people choose to see any of these things differently, that is fine. Everything is up for personal interpretation. The problem starts when people start passing said interpretations off as canon and start arguing like they are. You can see Katniss as some asexual WOC badass if that suits you personally. That doesn’t mean that she is or that people have to adhere to that version of her. You can’t ‘erase’ canon to fit your needs. You can’t shove Katniss into a representative mold.
*This doesn’t include the commentary on Katniss being whitewashed for the movies. She absolutely was whitewashed for the movie. That is an irrefutable fact, regardless of how well Jennifer Lawrence plays the character.