Girlhood and Self-Surveillance in a Heteronormative Society (by Papy A. and Briar J.)

The at-times fabricated nature of protagonist Katniss Everdeen’s behaviour throughout Suzanne Collins’ novel, The Hunger Games, is reflective of the self-surveillance required of girls in contemporary society. The performative essence of Katniss’ actions, as made evident through the disparity between her thoughts and subsequent actions, mimic the societal policing of girls in Eurocentric populations through expectations of conformity to heteronormative ideals (Jackson, 143).

The protagonist of the novel, sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen, a young girl living in one of the poorest districts of Panem, a totalitarian dystopian state, had been forced into both a caretaker and provider role at the young age of eleven due to the passing of her father and unwellness of her mother. Following in her father’s footsteps, Katniss refined her hunting and gathering skills, and learned to trade her excess meat for other resources not immediately available in order to properly provide for herself, her younger sister Primrose, and her mother. Although she describes seldom being able to find enough comfort to be her true self prior to the reaping, this rings especially true onwards from the moment she volunteers to take Prim’s place as District 12 tribute in the Hunger Games. This is displayed when Katniss is upset by Prim’s “hysterical” reaction to Katniss’ volunteering, but refuses to show any emotions, particularly in the form of tears, so that to not “be marked as an easy target” by the rest of the tributes (Collins 24).

Although she is more often than not being watched as a result of her celebrity for participation in the Hunger Games, Katniss’ tendency to filter her natural reactions for fear of others’ perceptions can be related to the Foucauldian concept of the panopticon. The panopticon, as explained by Foucault, is a symbolic rationalization of the ways in which civilians consciously conduct themselves in a societally acceptable manner not because their values exactly align with that of their societies, but rather out of fear of having a potential onlooker witness their acts of social nonconformity (Foucault 201-2). This idea of the panopticon, of acting in a particular manner that appeases the public eye, can too be applied to gender and gender presentation, as there strict expectations of these in accordance to heteronormativity (Duncan 48) (Jackson 143).

Heteronormativity, an ideology prevalent both in Panem as well contemporary Eurocentric societies such as that of our own, assumes heterosexuality and the corresponding male/female gender binary as the normative (Jackson 143). This socially constructed standard privileges the belief that there is a natural, dichotomous alignment of sex, gender, and sexuality, and is ultimately upheld through cultural practices and social structures (Jackson 143-4). In the case of ‘girlhood’ heteronormativity ultimately dictates that girls act in a manner that conforms to conventional femininity, which generally involves soft, feminine physical presentations, active displays of emotions, politeness, selflessness, and submissiveness.

From the very beginning of the novel, Collins makes it clear that Katniss is policing her speech and actions, saying that “even … in the middle of nowhere, [she worries] someone might overhear [her]” (Collins 6) as she talks about District 12. Because of this fear, she has “learned to hold [her] tongue and to turn [her] features into an indifferent mask so that no one [can] read [her] thoughts” (6). This is something girls and women are taught to do in contemporary society; that is, showing what is deemed unnecessary or excess emotion like anger or sadness is ‘bad’ and regulating emotion and showing only what is deemed appropriate is ‘good’. Silence and indifference is not Katniss’ natural state, just as the performative femininity expected of girls in heteronormative culture is not the natural state of all girls. Therefore, this behaviour modification is reflective of what young girls learn through societal grooming.  It is made clear that this is a learned behaviour, as well, as Katniss mentions how “when [she] was younger, [she] scared [her] mother to death, the things [she] would blurt out … about the people who rule [their] country” (6) before she was trained to speak in different ways in order to survive in society.

Katniss seems to, inherently, exhibit more traditionally masculine traits than she does traditionally feminine. This is in part because she has been forced into more masculine roles by the death of her father and in part because she seems to view traditionally feminine traits as inferior, or weaker, which she exhibits in the way she perceives her sister. Prim is a young girl who exhibits more traditionally feminine traits; for example, she struggles with hunting, the more iconically masculine activity at which we see Katniss excelling, wanting, instead of killing the animals, to nurse the animals back to health once they have been wounded. However, despite Katniss’ inclination to more traditionally masculine traits, she often chooses to present a softer version of herself so as not to both increase her likeability as well as to not antagonize the Capitol as evident in her final interview with Caesar in which he asks what was going through her head when she pulled out the poison berries at the end of the games. She states,

I take a long pause before I answer, trying to collect my thoughts. This is the crucial moment where I either challenged the Capitol or went so crazy at the idea of losing Peeta that I can’t be held responsible for my actions. It seems to call for a big, dramatic speech, but all I get out is one almost inaudible sentence. “I don’t know, I just . . . couldn’t bear the thought of . . . being without him.” (362-3)

Later, Katniss looks to her mentor Haymitch for confirmation that she made the right choice in what she said, to which he replied that it was “perfect,” alluding to the calculated nature of her actions, and thus performative nature of Katniss’ Hunger Games persona (Collins 363).

Katniss Everdeen, through her filtered and premeditated actions and behaviours exemplifies the self-policing that young girls engage in in their everyday lives. Although perhaps as was true with Katniss, ‘ordinary’ girls may not have their every move projected to masses of people for judgement and entertainment, the mere potential of being caught by an onlooker in the acts of not living up to gendered expectations encourages them to be wary of presenting an unfiltered version of themselves. This fear of be witnessed, and thereafter judged and potentially labelled, works effectively as a mechanism of controlling the bodies of young girls into behaving a manner that would uphold standards of heteronormativity.


Discussion Questions

  • Judith Butler’s theory of performativity argues that gender is an aspect of our identities that we subconsciously perform in order to attempt to live up to the unattainable gender ideals dictated by our societies and upheld by our social structures (Butler 177-82). To what extent do you think young girls actively choose to appear more conventionally feminine as Katniss did versus, as Butler suggests, subconsciously adhering to societal norms?


  • Do you think Collins, specifically in relation to her creation of the characters Katniss and Peeta, works to subvert heteronormative gender ideals, or reinforce them? Explain.



Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “sex”. New York:
            Routledge, 1993. Print. 177-82.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.

Duncan, Margaret Carlisle. “The politics of women’s body images and practices: Foucault,
            Michel. The panopticon, and Shape magazine.” Journal of Sport & Social Issues 18.1
(1994): 48-65.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Vintage, 1977.

Jackson, Stevi. “Gender, sexuality and heterosexuality: The complexity (and limits) of
            heteronormativity.” Feminist theory 7.1 (2006): 105-121.


14 thoughts on “Girlhood and Self-Surveillance in a Heteronormative Society (by Papy A. and Briar J.)

  1. I think your inclusion of the concept of the panopticon is a really interesting one I hadn’t thought about before. I think the idea brings a little more to the argument when you focus on the panopticon as used in the context of prison systems, where the guards are able to monitor all of the prisoners at all times. If we assume that Katniss performs a specific way because she believes she is being watched or observed, who is the prison guard then? Just the Capitol? The citizens of the Capitol? All the citizens of Panem? Or us, the readers?

    As for your discussion questions, I think asking if young girls choose to adhere to gender norms because they think they are being observed like Katniss, or if they do this subconsciously makes an argument on its own. Katniss knew what the Capitol wanted to see from her, all of the gender norms in society have been ingrained upon her mind so when they time came, she could easily portray which norms were viewed most positively. Katniss already had the tools to know what a soft, feminine image was. When she went to perform them, they were already embedded in her subconscious. Katniss could pull desirable traits from her mind on how to behave without someone telling her what to do every step of the way.
    Now, it can be argued that people were telling Katniss what to do throughout the whole Games. But people advised Katniss of what traits she should have, not what actions would specifically portray those traits. When Katniss is in her tribute interview, she does take pointers from Cinna, but she ultimately can decide on her own what will make her image softer. Such as on page 128 of the novel, Katniss says “I’m also giggling, which I think I’ve done maybe never in my lifetime,” when she talks to Caesar. Nobody instructs her to giggle, and nobody instructs her to “blow a few kisses to the crowd,” (Collins 70). Towards the end of the novel, this idea is exemplified well by the passage on page 354: “I sit so close to Peeta that I’m practically on his lap, but one look from Haymitch tells me it isn’t enough. Kicking off my sandals, I tuck my feet to the side and lean my head against Peeta’s shoulder.” We can see Haymitch giving her the instruction to do more, without saying what more she needs to do. This is because Katniss subconsciously knows what to do–what will make her more feminine.
    I would argue that Katniss combines actively chooses to appear more conventionally feminine using the societal norms that she pulls from her subconsciously of what conventionally feminine means. I do not think we can completely separate the two concepts as girls are trained in our society to know what it means to be conventionally feminine as its ingrained on their subconscious. One cannot actively choose to appear more feminine without using the tools society has given to them telling them what femininity entails.

    I hope I didn’t get too confusing there, but your post is very well-written with interesting and appropriate sources. I feel like we could talk about this topic forever, but we already have to move on to a new book. No doubt these concepts will appear in other novels as well though.


  2. I completely agree that Katniss’ self-policing reflects the real life experience of girls. The most straightforward way to see this would be to look at reality television and celebrities, since Katniss is a celebrity on reality television, having to act for a camera. As our current society becomes more obsessed with celebrity, for the first time there have been people literally growing up with cameras on them at all times, learning from a young age to adapt their behaviour and perform their real life for an audience (the most obvious example being the Kardashians/Jenners). Like in any number of reality shows, Katniss and Peeta’s romance is fake (at least for Katniss) and for entertainment purposes; but it’s also much more sinister, as it is a performance her life depends on.

    In this way Katniss’ self-surveillance reflects a deeper and more insidious societal problem than just reality television. I think the point by Butler that you included was very relevant: that gender is a performance young girls and boys are taught from birth. I don’t think femininity is ever a real choice for girls. Their ‘feminine’ role is a compulsory performance they have been trained in from birth and never been given the chance to question, which stretches beyond acting for an audience to affect their deepest sense of self. This idea ties in, in my opinion, with this quote from Margaret Atwood:

    “It’s all a male fantasy…even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”

    Katniss performs a fantasy for the watchers in the Capitol, but this quote raises the question of if girls are ever away from ‘watchers’: they are socialised to regulate their thoughts and behaviour even when completely alone, turning the male gaze onto themselves as a way to regulate their behaviour. With this in mind, can we separate how Katniss behaves in the Hunger Games, when she is on television, and when she at home and ‘unwatched?’. Your post states that girls are socialised to ‘act in a manner that conforms to conventional femininity, which generally involves soft, feminine physical presentations, active displays of emotions, politeness, selflessness, and submissiveness’. It would be easy to argue that Katniss embodies none of these things, and I agree with the post that her behaviour is typically ‘masculine’: she is physically active and tough, argumentative, assertive, practical and is the family breadwinner.

    However, it could definitely still be argued that Katniss regulates her feelings, thoughts and behaviour even when she does not fear being watched, or does not even consciously mean to do anything. For one, she automatically takes on a nurturing role with Prim, Rue and then Peeta. Obviously this is not necessarily a negative trait, but it is one that women are socialised into, so it’s worth recognising. She also automatically recognises that her relationships with boys ‘should’ have a romantic element even when she doesn’t seem interested herself. This is not so much applicable for Peeta, as she consciously pretends to be interested in him for survival– but it could be applied to Gale. Despite them being close friends and Katniss not seeming to be attracted to him, she worries about Gale’s reaction to her romance with Peeta: ‘I wonder what he makes of all this kissing’ (280). Katniss subconsciously or unconsciously knows that in the heteronormative society she is a part of, her close friendship with Gale cannot be just that, and cannot co-exist with her romance with Peeta. Collins doesn’t criticise this though, and I would argue she perpetrates this mindset. She allows Katniss to stray from traditional ‘femininity’ and be more active and assertive, but, like Katniss, she ultimately fails to question the underlying assumptions about heterosexuality fuelling both Katniss’ performance in the Games themselves and in her day to day life.


  3. I agree with your point that Katniss is unable to find comfort in being her true self after she volunteers for Prim at the reaping. As she (Katniss) returns back to District 12 after The Hunger Games, she becomes confused about her Games persona and her District persona. As Katniss sees the “Capitol growing farther away every second… [she] begin[s] transforming back into [herself]” (Collins 370). It is in that moment that she also becomes conflicted about her feelings for Peeta, because while she believes that her side of the relationship is completely forced by surviving the Games, she does ultimately empathize with him and see him at most as a friend as they return.

    You also talk about heteronormativity in terms of, Katniss specifically, the stereotypes of girlhood. While Katniss mostly defies the stereotypical concepts of what it means to be a girl, by holding her tongue she is being transformed by what you have called “societal grooming”. In this regard, Collins attempts to paradoxically subvert and reinforce the stereotypical gender roles of Katniss and Peeta. Collins has both Peeta’s and Katniss’ District persona subvert gender norms, and constructs their Games’ personas as reinforcing stereotypes.

    In regards to the question you pose about Judith Butler’s theory of performativity and whether girls adhere to feminine traits either in the same way Katniss does or whether it is subconsciously affected by societal norms has to do with the world in which they live. Due to living in a post-apocalyptic world that has segregated the nation into Districts, has Katniss, who, of course, lives in the poorest District, almost forced into assuming the role of a stereotypical “boy” because she is the eldest, she does not have any brothers, and due to her father’s death. In 2016 it takes a lot of courage to be able to deviate from what society deems feminine as a woman. A woman can, however, choose to do whatever they want and whether that is to conform to beauty trends, or to stay away from them is the woman’s choice.


  4. After reading the blog post, I thought of a question to consider: If Foucault’s concept of the panopticon excepts Katniss to always perform feminine characteristics, then why is she able to perform stereotypical masculine traits and actions in District 12?

    In my opinion, the type of surveillance in District 12 relates to completing a job, obeying the lifestyle given to them by the Capital and survival. I think gender performance is specifically monitored within the Capital. However, the argument presented in the blog post does not explicitly take the two different settings of the novel into consideration. In the Capital, there is a much higher expectation to perform your perceived gender. As mentioned in the blog post, Haymich congratulates Katniss after stating she could not imagine being without Peeta.

    On the other hand, in District 12 Katniss experiences a different form of policing. She is not able to speak out against the corruption the Capital has implemented in the Districts. Although the silencing of Katniss’ opinion relates to the expectation of girls to be passive, she still has these thought and shares them with Gale, who is likewise unable to speak out against the problems. In fact, the main expectation of members in District 12 is to complete a job. Katniss mentions when her father died “[her] mother would be expected to get a job. Only she didn’t” (Collins 26). While Katniss’ mother originally does not have a job when her father is alive, once he passes away, someone in the family is expected to take his place in the economy (or lack there of).

    Likewise, Katniss is known for selling certain foods to members of the District in the Hob and outside to the Mayor. During the reaping, Katniss reflects on her encounters with the Mayor as the “girl who brings the strawberries” (22). Thus Katniss can be understood as empowered in District 12 by turning against the performance of feminine passivity through her illegal actions. It is only in the Capital where Katniss must perform femininity in “a white, gauzy dress and pink shoes” (366). Katniss is aware that after the spectacle of the games District 12 is a setting where she can “begin transforming back into [her]self” (370).

    The question if Collin’s chose to subvert or reinforce heteronormative gender ideals with Katniss and Peeta comes with a complicated answer. While Peeta expresses characteristics that are stereotyped as feminine, for example working in a bakery and his inability to fight, he creates a persona for the Capital that is accepted. Likewise, Katniss’ ability to fight, hunt and desire to defy authority are stereotypical male traits. However, as mentioned above, Katniss is expected to create a persona that is feminine for the Capitol and its audience. Nevertheless, Peeta identifies as a male and Katniss identifies as a female. The third section of the novel does focus on their relationship. Thus, I would argue that Katniss and Peeta subvert gender stereotypes, yet reinforce heteronormativity.

    Work Cited
    Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.


  5. Papy and Briar,
    Your argument regarding Katniss’s performance in the Hunger Games as representative of girlhood performativity and heteronormativity is very compelling. Viewing the Games as a symbolic representation of Foucault’s panopticon highlights the ways in which Katniss, and the real-life girls and women she represents, both internalize the gender norms they must adhere to and consciously produce these norms. Gender performance is a complex interplay of both conscious and unconscious thought, which I argue is directly showcased through Katniss. As you argue, her performance within the Games themselves works to evidence the conscious decisions individuals make in order to appear conformational. She acts in an explicitly feminine way through deliberate behaviours so as to confer her subjectivity as obviously female.
    However, I would argue that Katniss’s femininity is not always conscious but rather in many ways she is also ‘subconsciously adhering to societal norms,’ as Butler suggests. For example, her interactions with Prim necessarily highlight Katniss’s maternal “instincts” and her loving, caring “virtures.” She works tirelessly to ensure that Prim is taken care of, and her immediate, unconscious decision to volunteer in Prim’s place highlights that Katniss’s care and protection for Prim is unconscious. In this regard, she has internalized expectations of femininity in regards to loving and caring for others, and acts as a mother-figure for Prim. As such, although Katniss’s behaviour and attitudes at times works to subvert gender norms, and her deliberate, fictitious actions within the Games highlights the performativity required to appear conformational, ultimately Katniss still maintains many feminine characteristics and has thus internalized heteronormative expectations. This duality of feminine performativity seen in Katniss is representative of the complex experience of gender performativity that girls and women do each and every day. Even considering my own gender representation, I am conscious of many ways in which I actively assert femininity (such as deliberate application of make-up or certain clothing styles). However, I know that there are also many aspects of my gender presentation that are subconscious, such as the ways in which I move through public spaces. I walk in a certain way, sit a certain way, and interact with others in ways that always and continually encode feminine expectations within my society.
    As such, in response to your discussion question then, it cannot be simply subconscious or conscious, but rather gender performativity is a fluid interplay of many aspects of behaviour that are both deliberate and subconscious, a self-policing and an external reaction to policing forces, making it very difficult to avoid.


  6. Within District 12, both Katniss and Peeta subvert heteronormative gender ideals by embodying traits generally found in the opposite gender: Katniss is aloof, strong, emotionally detached, manipulative, and the provider for her family while Peeta is emotionally expressive, romantically driven, unable to fight, and a baker. While in the Capitol and in The Hunger Games, both Katniss and Peeta reinforce heteronormative gender ideals by embodying traits traditionally found in their gender: Katniss is giggly, soft, and emotionally expressive while Peeta is dominant, protective, charming and strong. In response to your second question, I find that this difference in gendered trait embodiment and this transition that occurs between subversion and reinforcement, effectively outlines the flexibility and performative nature of gendered traits. Through both Katniss and Peeta, Collins calls to attention the artificiality of heteronormative gender ideals and brings to focus that they are constructed notions of society. As the main characters fluidly interchange between what is their normal behavior and what is normal behavior for society, we are effectively shown that there is no need to compartmentalize yourself and limit yourself to traits found solely within one gendered norm. In the Capitol, Katniss and Peeta must perform this interchange and commit to the limits of one gendered norm due to their dire circumstances and their fight for survival, but ultimately, by emphasizing this interchange, Collins propagates awareness of the fragile boundaries between gendered norms and promotes breaking away from them.


  7. Growing up in a society that has extremely strong customs around what it means to be a girl and how girlhood is addressed, it can be hard for girls to actively choose to appear more conventionally feminine. Not that these girls do not exist but rather are people aware of this active choice? On the other hand, girls that do not conform to constructions of femininity are subjected to ridicule because of this willingness to break these stereotypical aspects of femininity. An aspect of this question makes it hard to dictate whether or not girls choose to adhere to social norms and are aware of these constructions. Katniss’ situation is very different due to the panopticon nature of the Games and her need for survival. Perhaps an example of actively conforming to appear more conventionally feminine could be at a school. There is a constant sense of surveillance whether or not anyone is aware. In order to fit in and blend as most young adults aim to do, they would need to conform to these social structures.

    In certain aspects Collins use of Katniss and Peeta work to subvert heteronormative gender ideals. Primarily, within Katniss and Peeta themselves their characteristics do not subject to normative stereotypes of femininity and masculinity. In fact, they seem to have switched gendered roles. While Katniss is strong, capable, and independent, Peeta is arguably the opposite and relies heavily on Katniss for survival within the Games. Although it can be argued that Katniss and Peeta’s relationship change once under the surveillance of the Games, but the reader’s knowledge that this is not Katniss’ true personality and it’s used as a means of survival reiterates her subversion to stereotypes. Understandably, Collins used the love triangle as a feature in the novel to draw young adult readers closer into the novel. It can be contended that Collins overall uses this relationship to critique the ways in which society fixates itself around heterosexual relationships as the defining factor in a young female adult’s life.


  8. Papy and Briar,

    Within your post, you put forth a strong argument by suggesting that the filtered and premeditated nature of Katniss’ actions mimic, to some degree, those of young girls who engage in self-policing behaviours. To add to your argument, the original panopticon, as Jeremy Bentham describes it, is a modern prison that includes a centrally located guard tower. From this tower, prison guards would be able to watch all the prisoners simultaneously. Prisoners, however, would be able to see the tower, but not the guards in them, so they would never know whether or not they were being watched. Foucault builds on Bentham’s concept to suggest that prisoners would, in turn, become self-policing. In this way, the Capitol acts as a sort of panopticon in Collins’s The Hunger Games. Katniss knows that she is under surveillance, but she does not know if and when she is actually being watched. As a result, like Foucault argued would happen, Katniss becomes self-policing; she is constantly thinking about the fact that people are watching her and therefore acts accordingly. For example, in her burial of Rue that can be read as an act of rebellion, Katniss says “[the Capitol] will have to show it. Or even if they choose to turn the cameras elsewhere at this moment, they’ll have to bring them back when they collect the bodies and everyone will see then and know I did it” (Collins 237). In this way, Katniss decorates Rue’s body with flowers because she knows the people watching her will see it. More, Katniss further proves this point through her description of the kisses her and Peeta share as “staged” (265). She kisses Peeta, then, because she knows that the people watching her want this element of romance, which, in turn, means that, she is more likely to be gifted useful items that aid in her survival.

    Furthermore, in response to your first discussion question, I think that young girls actively choose to appear more conventionally feminine, but also subconsciously adhere to societal norms. Perhaps this is because girls are socialized to be feminine, which, in turn, makes the adherence to societal norms a subconscious process. For example, young girls actively choose to appear more conventionally feminine through their physical appearance. That is, young girls choose to wear pink clothing, dresses, and makeup, for example, because (apart from them liking these things) doing so is associated with traditional constructions of femininity. At the same time, though, because girls are taught that the aforementioned choices adhere to societal norms, these choices become second nature.

    Overall, I think Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games replicates Bentham’s conceptualization of the panopticon and Foucault’s theorization of it. In doing so, as you argue, Katniss’ actions become self-policing. That said, while behaviour that adheres to societal norms is a choice, it is also very much a subconscious process.


  9. Your post has me thinking about other examples of self-surveillance in the text and what characters, like Katniss have to self-police themselves. The two examples that immediately come to mind is Lauren from Parable of the Sower and all of the under age children in Delirium.

    In Parable of the Sower, once Lauren decides to travel as a man she has to ensure that all of her actions are those of a man. One time she accidentally smiles at another gentleman and she immediately feels like she shouldn’t have behaved that way. To create a strong persona, she has to behave like a man. She has to ensure that she (and Harry) do not give away her true gender unless they were to risk their own power dynamic in their group.

    In Delirium, the underage characters have to hide their feelings of love. They have to police themselves to hide their feelings and emotions, especially romantic ones about the opposite sex. All of the characters are constantly watching their own emotions in fear and have to ensure that nobody notices symptoms of “delirium.”


  10. I really like this post, and I think Foucault’s panopticon is an excellent concept to explain Katniss’s surveillance through. Butler’s theory of performativity is an interesting lens to view the Hunger Gamers through because some characters such as Effie seem to perform femininity in this way, and others like Katniss seem to have to actively perform it. To answer your first question, I think that young girls who do not naturally conform to femininity but have a desire to fit in actively choose to appear more conventionally feminine. Whereas a lot of girls have internalized constructs of femininity and do so subconsciously. Girls who are made fun of for being a ‘tomboy’ or not being ‘girly’ enough may actively try to appear more feminine, in order to fit in and stop the mocking. Girls who already perform femininity may not have the drive to actively do so because they do not need to, they already fit.


  11. I think your question in regards to Collins creation of the characters Katniss and Peeta is tricky, interesting and complicated. It would be easier to address if the relationship was blank point only a ‘fake’ relationship- with no emotional attachment from either characters, or if the relationship was blank point a 100% true relationship, in which both characters felt exactly the same way about each other, but where these lines blur and merge it is hard to solidly label Katniss and Peeta as reinforcing or subverting heteronormative gender ideals. In one way, their creation does subvert heteronormative gender ideals, as Katniss does take control within their relationship, and exerts typical ‘masculine traits’, she keeps them both alive through her instinct for survival, while Peeta’s sensitivity conforms to the idea of the new ‘sensitive man’, in which it is more socially acceptable for men to perhaps exert what some people in society may consider more ‘feminine’ traits. What I would like to contend is that through Collins’ creation of a sensitive male figure, it actually reinforces gender ideals. Perhaps reading to deeply, I have come to the idea that Katniss is only able to subvert heteronormative gender ideals, because, Peeta’s sensitivity and draw back from being the typical ‘masculine’ character allows her too. I would like to put into question, would it be possible for Katniss to subvert heteronormative gender ideals if Peeta’s character didn’t allow her too? And if Peetas creation allows Katniss to act the way she does, does this reinforce heteronormative ideals? This indirectly and perhaps, subconsciously (however, I firmly believe Collins is aware if this interpretation/ does this on purpose) places the male in the position of dominance, once again, mirroring the structure of society.


  12. I think the panopticon is a very appropriate concept to tie into the Hunger Games. I would like to look at Peeta under this model, and observe his self-policing behaviour. He does not, at first, appear to self-police very much (if not for gender expectations, then for the unwritten rules of survival). He offers Katniss a loaf of bread despite getting punished for it, and once in the Capitol, he constantly seems too friendly, or too eager to be there. Katniss becomes confused, since she had attributed more traditionally feminine qualities to him, until she realizes he, too, polices his behaviour. Until their moment on the roof, where he claims he wants to be more than just a piece in their games, we get a fairly well-policed Peeta. I find it interesting that the least self-surveilled aspect of him is his masculinity, as he is easy to share feelings such as when he admitted the girl he likes is Katniss on national television. It almost seems as though he displays more traditionally feminine qualities than Katniss does.


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