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Adebusola Abujade / Her Campus Media
Culture > Entertainment

The Women are Weird: 6 Books About Weird Girls and Women

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

Weird women is a trope in media where women act outside of societal standards without an intention to genuinely challenge those standards. In real life, weird women and girls are forced to conform, giving the patriarchy power to control our actions. The only way to retain our power is to act how we want without consideration for how others feel, and in this way, we become weird women.

Halloween is a wonderful time that me and my friends enjoy. I have been getting ready for the season by re-watching my favourite Halloween and horror movies. Re-watching these movies has reminded me of the weird woman trope. This trope is characterised by a woman who acts in a way that does not conform with societal expectations, without an intention to disrupt the system she exists in.

Weird women representation is often in movies, and usually, if not exclusively, within a Halloween or horror context. There is something cathartic about watching movies where women go crazy, get gross, and act mean. During Halloween, I watch movies like Hocus Pocus, The Witches, and The Addams Family, and relish the oddity of it all. It’s beautiful to see women acting without fear. From a young age, I have been weird. I’ve been called weird by classmates, friends, and family. When someone calls me weird, I feel hurt because I know they don’t mean I’m fun, and exciting, even though I am a hoot. They mean I’m odd and don’t act properly. I was born with a certain spirit and can’t help being weird. This article is a love letter to all the weird girls. Girls who were called or made to feel weird by the way they look, act, their hobbies, how they talk, or anything else.

Traditionally, it’s men who are allowed to get gross, and act mean. It is a clear trend in movies and TV that has also turned into a stereotype, men are grosser than women. I don’t understand why, and how this bias got started, so that’s for another time. It is more acceptable for men to be seen as impulsive, off the walls, and a bit odd. Women are not extended the same privilege; despite all progress women are still in a box of propriety. There is a trend I’ve noticed that was captured perfectly by writer Elana Dykewomon – all women have a secret fear of losing control of themselves. When a man on TV acts in opposition to general expectations, he is beloved and goofy. However, when it is a woman, she is branded as weird in a negative light.

            My favourite weird girls, as sparse as they are, are in books. I’ve listed below some of the best weird women’s books for anyone interested in women who act outside what is expected of them. To clarify, I am classifying weird as anyone who exists outside the expectations of society without the intention to disrupt the system. For example, Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games does not count as a weird woman because she acts in a way contrary to what is expected of her as a form of protest. Whereas the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus are weird because they act in a way that conflicts with society, not as a protest, but because that’s just how they are.

1. Wilder Girls

Wilder Girls by Rory Power is a novel I had the pleasure of reading in ninth grade. It’s a combination of Lord of the Flies and the Island of Dr. Moreau. School girls are trapped on an island because an odd disease broke out among them, and no one knows why or how. This disease physically mutilates everyone making it an optimal read if you enjoy body horror. The story follows Reece and Hetty as they search for their friend who’s gone missing on the island. In this book, the girls are violent, rude, gross, and sinister. All qualities that make it a wonderful weird girl book.

2. My Year of Rest and Relaxation

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh is a story about a girl who is tired. The unnamed protagonist is beautiful and rich which is countered with her slobbish ways, substance abuse, and clear indications of underlying mental illness. How does she cope with the weight of living? She sleeps. The narrator is gross, mean, and lazy. She shows a more subtle side of the weird girl archetype. 

3. We Have Always Lived in The Castle

We Have Always Lived in The Castle by Shirley Jackson is the story of a family after a massacre. Merricat is one of the three surviving members of her family after an accident. She and the rest of the family are shunned and ridiculed by townspeople. In her spare time, she buries things, collects talismans, and eats the cakes her sister makes. In this story, we see a protagonist who is impolite, lonely, dirty, and rude. She acts by what she feels is owed to the person she’s interacting with, and in some cases, she feels she owes them nothing.

4. Convenience Store Women

Convenience Store Women by Sayaka Murata follows Keiko Furukura, a 36-year-old woman with no husband, no kids, and the same job she had in university. Throughout the story, her friends and family try to help her, to her great annoyance. Why? Because she is happy with her life. Keiko loves the Smile Mart where she works and doesn’t have the desire to get married and have kids. She struggles with personal and social expectations of what her life should look like and how those expectations conflict with what she wants. Keiko is an exemplary weird girl, and her job, lifestyle, and personality all conflict with what’s expected of her. Yet she is a triumphant example for all other women to pursue their dreams.

5. Carmilla

Carmilla written by Sheridan Le Fanu is the only classic on this list. Few classics were written by women, and fewer show them acting in disagreeable ways. At 19 years old, Laura and her father host a party that Carmilla, a mysterious woman, attends. Due to an injury, Carmilla must stay after the party to recover. Laura and Carmilla become fast friends, and lovers until some sinister events begin to reveal the parasitic relationship Carmilla has tricked Laura into. Carmilla is not the main character, she is the villain. This book is a pioneer of pulp novels, and the queer-coded villains trope. Besides its obvious historical issues, Carmilla and Laura both present weird girl traits. Laura being gay, and Carmilla being a liar, easily agitated, lazy, and something else entirely more sinister.

6. Circe

Circe written by Madeline Miller is a modern retelling of a Greek story pieced together from other narratives where Circe was only a side character. Circe is branded as weird from the start. She is unexplainably different from her family, and they all treat her rudely. When she meets Glaucus, her life changes. Their meeting sparks a series of events that lead her to realise and understand her innate powers and strength. Circe is powerful, aggressive, and emotional. She acts on instinct and lives with lions. She is the archetypal crossroad of weird woman and a hero.

I encourage everyone to read at least one book about a weird girl. Maybe read one that’s not on the list. There are doubtless other books about weird women I’ve never read or even heard of. Consuming content with women acting oddly normalises it. In this way, we take back our power and remove the male gaze. If reading is not your thing then watch movies. If that’s not your thing either, then be weird. Find places in your life where you act in a way you are expected to but would rather not. Maybe you don’t need to hold the door for everybody, or maybe you don’t need to humble yourself. Part of being a weird woman is knowing that you are powerful, and that strength is intoxicating. We should all aspire to make society uncomfortable.

Steph C

McMaster '27

Steph is a writer for Her Campus McMaster. Her area of focus is psychology, literature, and history. Steph has a deep appreciation for writing and intends to continue English throughout university and possibly major in it. In her personal time Steph enjoys reading, watching movies with friends, and poetry. She spends time volunteering at her local heritage museum where she mainly takes photos of the sheep.