Study Guide

In The Woods Women and Femininity

By Tana French

Women and Femininity

We're going to say a few words and phrases, and we want you to conjure up an image in your head. Ready? Here we go.

Pilot.

Model.

Police officer.

Doctor.

In your mind, which of these were male and which were female? If you thought of Amelia Earhart, Tyson Beckford, Linda Everett, and Dr. Meredith Grey, you're going against most gender stereotypes of these professions.

In In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox has to fight two battles—she's trying to find Katy's killer, and she's trying to overcome the general belief that a woman can't be a good cop. Double ugh.

Take a look at the cover of the book. What's the author's name? It's no surprise that French turns gender stereotypes on their (empty) heads. You go, girls.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What kind of discrimination does Cassie face at the police station?
  2. Would Rosalind have been able to manipulate Damien and Rob if she were male?
  3. What kind of women does Rob like? Why?
  4. How would the case have been different if Katy were Kevin?

Chew on This

Despite all the misogynist sentiment at the beginning of the novel (like about how women can't be good cops), it turns out that one woman masterminded the crime, while another solves the case.

Rob likes stereotypically feminine qualities in women—cuteness, helplessness—but he hates them in men. Thing is, though, when it comes to helplessness, he's kind of a textbook case.