So today is going to be a rant more than a blog post. I’ve had this rolling around in my head for a while, but I’m going to try to keep it short and sweet rather than 18000 words….
Lately I’ve been going on huge tirades about strong female characters in recent movies to my friends, family, coworkers, and random people who get too close. This all stemmed from when I first saw Iron Man 3… I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say there’s a part where a character with no fighting background suddenly becomes a fricking ninja MMA fighting master.
What bothers me about this is that it seems like any time someone mentions a ‘strong female character’ it’s because she fights. She is a badass who can fight with the boys, who shoots, kicks, and punches with the best of them. She’s tough, no nonsense, and physically strong.
But is that the only way to present a strong character?
I want characters that are smart, clever, and bad at something. I want a character who can whip anyone in a game of chess, but has never been in a fist fight. I want to see the female computer hacker save the day without having to blow up everything, without having to be rescued 8 times, and without having to prove she’s strong by breaking something….especially if that has never been her character. If she’s never been shown to fight, or been shown to be awful at fighting, don’t make her a kungfu master just to show ‘Hey, look at this strong female character!’
I want someone whose role isn’t defined by her role to a man in the story. Someone who isn’t just the wife, the girlfriend, the mother, the love interest, the femme fatale, etc. I want a character that I know is strong, not because of how many zombies she takes down, but by the fact that she is strong and solid in more than just a physical sense.
This is one of the reasons why I love Hermione so much. She’s smart, and a support for her friends. She can hold her own without having to always prove it by hitting something, when she does, it’s even more memorable.
I don’t mind a character, male or female, who can kick some ass and throw a grenade… but they shouldn’t have to, to prove they’re strong.
What I am not saying is that I don’t like seeing badass warrior women. On the contrary, I really love the number of fighting women who have been appearing in pop culture recently. What I’m saying is that there are others ways of being strong, and that I miss seeing those.
I want my smart, clever characters to slove their problems in smart, clever ways, not suddenly start getting violent to solve their problems.