Raise your hand if your heart started racing with excitement the first time you watched Emma Peel kick ass in the television show, The Avengers.
The Avengers was a British show in the sixties about spies and Diana Rigg’s character was a genius who could kick serious butt. As a child of the seventies, I came in on the reruns but after that very first exposure, I plopped my little girl butt in front of that TV daily for my Avengers dose. Oh, Emma Peel was my hero. Yes, she won fights, but the woman had brains, too!
I also watched Star Trek. (I know, this isn’t a surprise.) But I always wondered why Uhura didn’t go on more missions. Later, when Star Trek, the Next Generation (TNG) came out, you can imagine my happiness when I realized a woman was head of security (Though Natasha Yar was killed in season one!) and yes, she almost always went out on missions.
I don’t think I ever missed an episode of the Bionic Woman. I would probably cringe my way through it these days (is this going through your head right now?) but not then. I would get mad if anyone sneezed during “my” show.
(Speaking of Bionic Woman, there is this strange study here which reports that women who watched violent females on shows like this one grew up to be more physically aggressive and prone to criminal acts. Yeah, whatever. I don’t even kill spiders and I inhaled these shows like air.)
The first time I watched Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien, I thought I’d been beamed right into Heaven.
Today, I still love strong heroines. I had many a romance manuscript turned down in the nineties because editors thought my female leads too strong. Too bad I was such a horrible writer then because those manuscripts (or the ideas, actually) would sell today.
The problem with today’s strong heroines is they’re not always portrayed well in novels, television and movies. I don’t have a problem with the sexy outfits (extreme feminists are screaming at me right now) — are you kidding? Didn’t Trinity look bitchin’ in The Matrix? Please! If I could look that good and circumnavigate the rules of space and time, I’d be out there kicking major criminal hiney.
No, it’s not the over-sexual battle femme that bothers me, it’s the lack of what I consider a woman’s major strength. Come on… you know what I’m talking about… it’s internal… yes, compassion! Compassion, love, acceptance… big things. Showing compassion doesn’t immediately wimpify a kick-ass heroine, it just proves to me that she is all-around strong. It shows that she knows when to crucify and when to take a step back and show a little understanding.
If all your heroine does is run around being tough, she’s going to lose my interest. However, if she realizes her own short-comings and also realizes that all humans have them, I’ll stick with her for life.
What are some of your favorite kick ass heroines in books, tv and or movies? I know we’ve done something similar before, but dig deep– I promise to chuckle politely if you say Barb Wire. Though, that buoyant quote was hilarious…