You always hear about the strong female characters in books or movies. But what does it actually mean? I think most of the time when we hear it now a certain image pops into our mind. A girl/woman who wears clingy leather and kicks butt and takes names and don’t need no man.
But really. How often does that work out for them? It seems like half the time they have a super empowering image, but spend critical moments either failing at being this superb martial artist we’re led to believe they are and/or the guy has to come in and save them in the nick of time.
So I don’t really get the label as we perceive it these days. I mean, sure she’s the greatest assassin to ever walk the earth, but when it comes down to it, she’s either really terrible or does no assassinating or falls in love with the conveniently hot womanizing prince she’s supposed to kill. (I’m looking at you, every YA book with this plot.) But that’s ok, because at some point she kicks butt and takes names because she’s a strong female character and don’t need no man. Except said super hot dude who she can’t stop thinking about and can’t bring herself to kill.
But put her in a dress or give her no fighting skills and suddenly there might be a different perception. But…but how can you be “strong” in a dress? Does she have secret knife fighting skills? Does she keep a dainty pistol or a knife in a sheath on her leg under the dress? Because that’s obviously what makes her strong.
Does she have to be the female version of B.A. Barracus? (Minus the jewelry obviously because she’s a strong female character.)
Either we have leather wearing girls or we have the complete opposite. Please refer to the Transformers girl who spent the movie wearing white skinny jeans and stilettos, scurrying after the guy, and wailing his name every time something moderately dangerous occurred.
I’m not really sure why anyone would want to be Katniss.
Sure she was brave and sacrificed herself for her sister but then look what happened. She got PTSD, spent most of book 3 hiding in her room and refusing to help anyone, and then a ton of people she knew died. But hey, she got Peeta, the bread dude.
Why would you want to be Elsa when you could be Anna, the girl who went after her dramatic sister to apologize and try and bring back summer? And, oh look, snagged the honest, dependable, Kristoff.
Eowyn defeats the witch-king, recovers, puts the dress back on and then marries Faramir.
I’m also of the opinion that Eowyn struggles with depression, so hey look, there’s some realism for you.
So you’re probably thinking, what the heck do you think a strong female character is? Well, I’ll tell you. And keep in mind, these are just my humble opinions and what I like seeing in stories. Because being strong doesn’t mean being a physical specimen. Also, these are going to be more tailored to fantasy.sci-fi since that’s what I read/write the most.
Maybe she doesn’t actually like fighting. Or know how to at all.
Maybe she learned how to fight to defend her home when the men are away.
Maybe she does like getting flowers.
Maybe she ties off her braid with a ribbon.
Maybe when the fighting’s done, she puts away her sword, puts the dress back on, and marries the soldier who’s been waiting patiently for her.
Maybe she should fall for the dependable non-royal character.
Maybe she actually does want a family.
Maybe she’s an amazing cook.
Maybe she actually likes talking clothes/makeup/guys with other random female characters.
Maybe she likes wearing dresses. It’s my opinion that the greater female population actually enjoys wearing dresses. I know I wear gym shorts and t-shirts constantly, but give me a dress with a full enough skirt and I will spin.
Maybe she doesn’t fight at all. Maybe she’s the strong moral support behind the hero. After all “behind every great man, there is a great woman.”
Maybe she’s just the servant girl sleeping by the fireplace and dreaming of better things.
Maybe she’s the merchant’s daughter who sacrifices her freedom in order to save her family. And ends up with a husband and a giant library. But whatever.
Maybe she makes a mistake for the first major plot point, but then *gasp* admits to it and spends the rest of the book trying to fix it. Maybe a guy even helps her. *gasp again*.
Maybe she faces an arranged marriage and actually goes through with it since it’s for the good of her people/land/country/empire/etc. and ooh, I don’t know, maybe his too.
Maybe she’s the noble who comes up with the plan to save the rebel outlaw leader in the dungeons and sneaks off to tell his men.
Maybe she actually listens to those in authority.
Maybe she’s not a special snowflake in her dystopian society. Maybe she actually gets sorted into one of the super lame and boring divisions and takes down the government from there.
So what about you? What do you think makes a strong female character? Who’s one of your favorite female characters?