The Hunger Games brings a new perspective on gender roles, embodied in Katniss and Peeta. Traditionally, women are presented as the damsel in distress. Female characters, even those that are the lead character, follow a particular schema. They are presented as indecisive, weak, emotional or vulnerable, and heavily sexualized in order to preserve their feminine identity. Men, on the other hand, are typically the heroes; they are bold and daring, unaffected by emotion, and more often than not rewarded in the end by 'winning' a female character. Dictrict 12; however, experiments with role reversal.
Peeta, the baker, and Katniss, the girl on fire, swap gender qualities and I believe that's why both sexes identify with Katniss and respect her more. As a male, I felt weird indentifyng with Katniss but after looking deeper into her character it makes more sense. She has unknowingly aligned with masculine roles. She is a hunter and provider for her family, she comforts Prim and helps raise her almost. Coming from a family who has lost the father/ male influence, Katniss has blossomed into the 'man' of the house. Peeta, on the other hand, is a baker. He is artsy and excels at painting and camouflaging. He decorates cakes and really fails to do a lot of significantly manly tasks. While in the Games Katniss assumes a leadership role, and doesn't act passively as stereotypical female leaders do. She is unaffected by violence and, while against doing so, kills on multiple occasions. Peeta plays hide and seek, refrains from violence, and assumes his role as the damsel in distress. He is very reliant on Katniss, failing to act on his own much. I also believe it's interesting that when he is in her presence, like when they are being interviewed, he is more confident and seems giddy because of the love he feels.
Katniss does not show a burning love you would expect from a female character, but Peeta has fallen head over heels for her. Katniss, although represented as an attractive female, is not sexualized either. She does not have a strong desire to romantically or physically pursue Peeta or Gale. Katniss refrains from showing too much emotion and is against the star crossed lovers scheme, because it presents her as weak. Much of what she does really presents her as a having more masculine than feminine qualities. If not for physical appearances, it would be hard to distinguish whether she was a male or female.