In The Hunger Games, there is an obvious difference in traditional gender roles and romance compared to the majority of fictional novels. Typically, we have women being the ones pursued and saved, while men are the ones pursuing and saving. In addition to that, men are strong, emotionless, stern, and heroic, while women are weak, emotional, vulnerable, and sexualized.
Katniss and Peeta are the perfect examples of reversed gender roles. Peeta is a baker who enjoys decorating cakes and painting pictures of nature; however, Katniss is a hunter who provides and protects for her family. Because of her father's death and her mother's depression, Katniss had to assume the role as the "man" of the house. Everyday, she would hunt for tonight's dinner, buy supplies for the house, and comfort Prim every night before she went to bed. Her job in her family is the job that a typical father would preform in his family. While she is in the games, she is a leader, rebellious, and desensitized from violence. Again, in novels, males have those traits where they are always making trouble and leading a justified cause. Katniss embodies more masculine than feminine traits throughout the trilogy.
Commenting on Peeta's demeanor, he is seen more feminine than masculine. Peeta has not endured anything remotely close to Katniss in his life. Being a part of baker's family, he already has the money to acquire supplies, food, and support his well being. Created by dependent lifestyle, Peeta is fragile and caretaker towards his loved ones. During the reaping, it was obvious that Peeta was upset with being chosen as District 12's tribute. On other hand, Katniss volunteered in place of Prim, showing no emotion and pushing her sister away from the scene. Throughout the games, Peeta is never the one to take action; he never successfully uses a weapon in combat either. Majority of the time, he is waiting for Katniss to act instead of deciding his own will. Lastly, Peeta has more sexual and charming appeal than Katniss ever will. The Capitol simply falls in love with Peeta during his interviews with Caesar Filckerman. He has the ability to "woo" the audience as if he was a beautiful girl with an audience full of males.
In regards to romance in this trilogy, there is a forced romance between Katniss and Peeta. To develop appeal to District 12's tributes, the two must be displayed as "star-crossed lovers" who battle within the arena along side each other. Katniss does not want to be apart of this romance because it portrays her as weak (typically a male response.) Katniss does not want to kiss him either, but is forced by Haymitch to make something happen for the sponsors. This trilogy is not romance fiction, it is young adult, dystopian novel. Romance is lack luster, close to non-existent.
The Hunger Games
Dr. Raley Guest Speaker on Conventional Romance and Gender Roles in The Hunger Games
Pharr and Clark Chapters 11 and 20