According to Peter Barry’s Beginning Theory, there are a few different categories of feminist criticism. Specifically, radical feminism focuses on the theory of patriarchy as a system or power, and pays particular attention to oppression based on sex and female bodily disadvantage. This type of feminist criticism comes up often with Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.
The film was adapted from the novel written by female author Suzanne Collins. It can therefore be considered a work of Écriture féminine, a term coined by French theorist Helene Cixous to describe the concept that language is written by men for men. In other words, this means that it is typically challenging for female authors to use language as a tool to narrate a story from a female perspective and the literature will therefore most likely contain a large amount of masculine language and themes.
The Hunger Games reinforces this concept as it places the males in the positions of power and pair them with the skills associated with power: strength, athleticism and prowess at hunting.
There are 12 poor districts in the country of Panem surrounding the Capitol, all characterized by their own exports and exist only to fulfill the needs of the Capitol. Katniss Everdeen, the female protagonist in this series, is an oppressed citizen in District 12, the coal-mining district. Even thought Collins specifically chose to have a female protagonist, Katniss’ skills are traditionally masculine, reinforcing the concept of Écriture féminine.
Two specific scenes where feminism comes across very strongly are when Katniss volunteers for the games and also when she spears the apple in the pig’s mouth to prove that she is worth recognition.
Katniss has to act as the protector for her younger sister, fulfilling the role of the father in the family. She fulfills this to the extent of volunteering to compete in the Hunger Games when she finds out her little sister was elected. When she has 3 minutes to speak with her family and friends, she talks to her mother in a ‘husband-like’ way telling her to take look after Primrose.
Eventually Katniss just becomes referred to as the girl from District 12 for the majority of the Hunger Games. When she first enters the room where she is assessed on her abilities as a fighter and a hunter, there is zero attention shown to her. When she feels like she doesn’t exist to them, she has to go to the extent of speaking the apple out of the pig’s mouth across the buffet table with one of her arrows.
Both of these are good examples of why Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games is a good example of feminism in pop culture.