Strong Female Leads

I’m very definite about what I like in characters. I will very often put down a book without reading all the way through if I don’t like the main character/s, and I’ve been known to verbally remonstrate with TV characters who are doing stupid things. This holds true for all characters, but is more stringently applied to female lead characters I read/watch (mostly because I’m female and dislike seeing females made ridiculous without good reason. Men can mostly be as ridiculous as they like without upsetting me unduly).

If the female lead is, for example: a) Always relying upon the hero to save her, b) Always belittling/snarking at the hero, c) Making stupid decisions because the book/movie needs it for angst/danger, d) Always having sex because she’s a strong female lead who don’t need no man/rules/standards ETC, ETC, ETC-

I WILL BURN THAT BOOK/MOVIE.

(Actually, I won’t: I’ll probably just make a face and donate it to the op-shop/bin/a friend. But still. Ya get me. If I get really hot under the collar, I’ll compose snarky reviews in my head that will never see the light of a computer.)

There’s a lot of angst about Strong Female Leads. Someone is always trying to make sure that movies have enough Strong Female Leads, or that a book has a Strong Female Lead. It’s one of those things that you’re forever hearing about on the ‘net. I mean forever. There are tantrums and jumpings up and down, and accusations of misogyny etc, clouding the air and making things generally difficult to see.

I’ll admit, I used to roll my eyes about it a lot. (Actually, I still do at some of the more tantrum-like outbursts.) And then, the matter having been brought to my attention, I started noticing stuff.

It was most often in movies. (Books have weak, annoying, and/or stereotypical female leads, but they have an equal amount of weak, annoying and/or stereotypical male leads.) I’d be watching a movie, enjoying it more or less depending upon which one it was, and then BAM- there was a female lead wearing next to nothing. FOR NO REASON. Cos, trust me, if you’re a ninja/knight/samurai/whatever, you’re gonna want as much body surface covered. The male counterpart would be fully clothed. And then the female lead would fall/trip/get bashed and have to be rescued by one of the blokes for the seemingly sole purpose of being clutched to the well muscled chest of whichever one happened to save her.

So basically, the female lead was there for looks, and for the rush that the male ego gets for having saved a damsel in distress. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a female in a movie/book having to be rescued. But when it’s already established that she’s apparently the best/strongest/fastest, it’s really annoying to find that she has to be saved by the male of the piece simply because she’s female.

That’s not cool. It’s not cool to see female characters used in tv shows/movies simply for the purpose of eye candy. It’s not cool to see them always berating and/or sleeping with the male counterpart simply to prove that they’re a strong female lead who don’t need no man. C’mmon dudes, there has to be some middle ground here. And it’d be kinda nice to see female action figures, too (I’m looking at you Avengers. Yanno, while I’m on the subject).

It’d just be nice to see more interesting, reasonable females (action movies, I’m looking at you) who have their own stories and react to events/people/etc on their own terms and not merely with relation to the storyline of the main male character. I love action movies, but they’re the ones most guilty of female stereotyping (yeah, Taken.  I love you, but Liam Neeson’s wife needed to be murdered a lot sooner).

That’s all. That’s all I’m asking.

2 thoughts on “Strong Female Leads

  1. I completely agree with you. I do find it tricky writing strong female leads because without showing some weakness they lose all interest for me – the perpetually strong, confident, always-right, always-perfect is just as bad as the weak and scantily-clad. So there’s a line to walk, revealing weakness and self-doubt, not always saving the day, but in the end making a tough decision and doing something brave and being successful (at least in the effort). That’s a strong female lead for me.

    Like

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