Friday, January 27, 2012

The Strong Female Character

Inspired by a recent conversation I began to look for pictures to put together a semi-"shrine" in my workout area to make a space that reflects the devotional act to which my workouts are sometimes intended. I began looking for pictures of women that I consider strong, but that I can personally identify with. This lead me on a search for strong female characters in movies and television. After going through a simple Google search I was able to find some great pictures that I'll be adding to my wall once I can get them printed out. Of course, this same search also brought up a bevy of articles that caught my attention. One in particular is ‘Tough, Cold, Terse, Taciturn and Prone to Not Saying Goodbye When They Hang Up the Phone’.

The author might be shocked to know that there are indeed women just like the author so vaguely describes in her "cliché" definition; women who know how to fight, carry guns, are professional soldiers or warrior types and yet, are still most definitely women. Last I checked, the only thing that one needed to biologically be a woman was a vagina and a lack of a Y chromosome. I understand the author's issue is with the phrase "strong female characters" and the implication that said characters are basically vapid "monomaniacal gloomy ninjas with commitment issues." Now that could be a decent argument if the next example of such a character wasn't Natalie Portman in "No Strings Attached." Last I checked she wasn't an action hero to which the sentence prior focuses on and there is a wide leap from characters who are predominantly physically inclined to kick ass and a skinny commitmentphobic love interest in a dramady.

Drawing specific attention to the aforementioned "cliché" the author is basically stating that the term "strong female character" addresses these characters as having the "gendered behavior taken out" and yet misses that the "masculine" traits to which she points to are just as ingrained in many females as they are in males. Society dictated what is "manly" and what is "girly," not nature. And apparently she hasn't read the story about the tough female cop that single-handedly took down a gunman that killed 12 people? Or read about the grandmother who refused to be a victim and had no qualms about shooting the man breaking into her house? Or been on the other end of a phone call for help where a mother of four stares down a gang of five teens threatening two other young boys that came to her for help because she is the mom in the complex you don't mess with (this would be personal experience). These types of women are most definitely real and their actions are most definitely the characteristics of a strong woman.

The author seems to think that the actions of these "monomaniacal ninjas" from the movies aren't relatable or even real examples of women. I say they are a direct reflection of real women and the actions that they take every day. The author may not be comfortable with that fact and think these characters would be more interesting if they embraced their "girlishness." I say that this is art finally imitating an example of women too long overlooked. Women have had to be "ladies" for far too long and those who weren't became the "antagonist" or "bitch" of the story. It's about damn time they were the main characters and heroes!

In the immortal words of one of the strongest female characters on TV today, "Nothing gets in the way of me taking care of my family, especially my conscience." Gemma Teller, Sons of Anarchy