There have been many criticisms on the role of gender relations and romance in The Hunger Games trilogy. Katniss is not portrayed as a typical female character and Collins strays from the norm when creating a plot consisting of a female main character. This character possesses qualities that are often associated with masculinity and sometimes lacks emotion and other feminine aspects.
Dr. Raley discussed gender roles in society and in the media, as well as comparing these issues to the storyline of The Hunger Games. Gender differences may be seen through everything that we do including the clothing we wear, the way we behave and the way we speak. Gender relations may vary from culture to culture and also may change over time. For example, in the early 1700's our founding fathers may have been spotted in long coats and high heels, wearing wigs and facial powder. In today's society, if a male was to dress like this he would certainly be stereotyped and picked on. Gender is also seen through the media, where the main characters are usually men, while the women abandon their independence and may be seen as a prize. The Hunger Games is significant because the main character is a girl, Katniss, who is strong and independent. Unlike many novels/movies, she is not dependent on a man, in fact it seems as if Peeta is dependent on her. Her hunting skills, protective instinct, leadership, rebelliousness, and temper are all characteristics that are usually seen in male characters; they may be considered very masculine traits. Katniss is also very unemotional considering that she has two men falling for her, yet she is not particularly romantically interested in either of them. The only reason she continues the romance with Peeta is in order to win over the audience and stay alive in the Hunger Games. This is something that is rarely ever seen in movies/novels today, in which the female is usually extremely emotional and tends to be dependent on the man in her life.
Pharr and Clark compare the characteristics of Katniss to Bella of Twilight in "Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games." The authors conclude that these two characters are extremely different. For example, "where Bella in consumed by the drama surrounding her romantic life, Katniss remains largely ambivalent about it" (Pharr & Clark, 213). I believe that this is a major reason for the significant difference between the heroines. Bella is the typical girl whose life revolves around her dramatic love triangle, while Katniss couldn't care less about the romance in her life because she has bigger issues to deal with. "While Bella is book smart and has an affinity for literature, Katniss learns survival skills and knows how to skin a lynx." These two are just many of the examples why Katniss is portrayed so differently than normal female lead characters. The lack of emotions in Katniss' character are what make her stand out as an atypical female lead role. "She is unemotional, and she remains emotional detached throughout much of the narrative" (Pharr & Clark, 122). For example, when Katniss leaves for the games she refuses to cry with her sister, Prim, because that would make her look weak, and of course she could not look weak in public. Katniss must stay strong throughout the book in order to protect her mother and sister as well as her "star crossed lover," Peeta. It is almost as if the two switched gender roles in the trilogy due to the fact that Katniss is always protecting him and remaining emotionally detached.
Katniss' character defies the social norm for gender roles in today's society. It is very difficult to find a good novel/movie that contains this type of heroine as a main character. In accordance with what Dr. Raley stated in her lecture, men are typically seen as the stronger character, while women are not usually portrayed as strong and independent like Katniss.