For several years, Percy Jackson has been popular among readers of all ages and genders. Also for several years, Percy has been destroying toxic gender roles/expectations and has been the literary protagonist of many a reader’s dreams. We’ve put together some ways that Percy Jackson has shattered toxic gender roles and expectations in his epic adventures.
Spoiler Alert: This article may contain spoilers, so read on with caution.
He Doesn’t Care About Being the Hero
On several occasions, Percy has proven that he doesn’t care about being the hero or being the best. He doesn’t want to take all the credit and be the guy who saved the day, which is usually to be expected of literary male figures (and even historical ones). Percy, however, doesn’t care.
In one specific instance, in The Sea of Monsters, Percy lets Clarisse take credit for the quest that couldn’t have been completed without him. He doesn’t care about being the best, nor does he care about taking credit. He doesn’t care about being the hero; he’d rather just help. This is also illustrated by the moment when he rejects becoming a god. He doesn’t want to be one. He’d rather stay human and be with Annabeth.
He Lets Annabeth Fight Her Own Battles
In so many toxic gender scenarios, the man is the one protecting the woman. Percy, however, lets Annabeth take care of herself. She’s not a damsel in distress, and he’s not the one saving her. He lets her take control and do what she wants, and he just stands by her side and supports her like the green flag he is. He doesn’t try to protect her and keep her from dangerous things. He isn’t a knight in shining armor. He was the original Kristoff from Frozen II when he let Anna do her own thing and helped her (if you know, you know). Women are independent and capable of protecting themselves—especially Annabeth. Percy’s just there for the ride. He also knows Annabeth could kick his ass.
He Doesn’t Always Succeed
In these types of hero stories, usually the hero, both men and women alike, never makes a mistake. Percy, on the other hand, usually is the one doing something stupid. While he always manages to make it out of the situations alive, he has some incredibly terrible ideas and some incredibly dumb moments. There are also occasional moments where he doesn’t save the day. For example, in Sea of Monsters, (Spoiler) at the end, Annabeth dies and Percy isn’t able to prevent it. She later comes back to life, but he isn’t always able to keep danger from happening. In another instance, (Spoiler) Percy also cannot save Annabeth when she falls in Tartarus. Instead, he follows her and jumps in after her. He can’t always succeed, but he doesn’t let it stop him from trying.
He Isn’t Perfect
People are expected to be perfect, despite their gender. In many examples of literature, art, TV, movies, etc., the protagonist is unrealistically perfect. In the case of men as well, they’re expected to not show much emotion (yay for toxic masculinity). Percy, however, defies both of the points. First, the man has many flaws. He’s occasionally got his moments and also concocts terrible plans. He also has a personal fatal flaw of being excessively loyal. He’s not perfect, and he’s not afraid to show his emotions, either. He even develops a fear of suffocation at one point that makes him struggle intensely. He’s not perfect, and he has emotions. He isn’t always as strong as everyone makes him out to be. He’s realistic.
He Can’t Do Everything On His Own
As a hero, Percy might be expected to be able to do everything on his own. What sets him apart from this expectation, however, is the fact that he knows he can’t. He knows he needs his friends and his fellow campers and that he can’t do everything by himself. He doesn’t single-handedly save the entire world (opposite from protags that single-handedly do everything by themselves, like start rebellions and destroy the government). He needs help from his friends, and he accepts that.
Percy Jackson has been shattering hero and gender roles and expectations for years. He’s possibly one of the most realistic protagonists out there (aside from being part Greek god), and it’s not hard to see why he’s been a fan-favorite.
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