Now normally I post up bits of my writing or book covers on this blog and leave it at that but today I sat down and read another bloggers well written commentary on the strong female character monicker.  While that blogger had an issue with it, had an issue of how these characters are written on comic book movies and how they are portrayed I don’t.  Let me explain.

While in movies like The Secret of Bees or the Color Purple, On Golden Pond and others you have strong women who make the world know what they think you don’t see it in genre fiction so much.  Genre fiction, you know that is the stuff I write.  Science Fiction, Fantasy, horror, comic books, etc have for a long time been written mostly by men and stared mostly men.  Yes we have broken into the fields, written our tales of women and girls who can pack a wallop like the boys and do dumb shit just like them.

Now see when women are written by men they will put in those stories things they want to see the woman do.  One of the things this writer went on about was how in Captain America the female lead picked up a gun and shot at Cap in a fit of peak or jealousy.  Now while the writer thought it was wrong I see it a different way.  Yes it was a bit childish but she knew that Cap’s reflexes were just that good.  He had the shield right there in front of him and she trusted that the science behind the world’s hardest metal would work just fine.  So while it was a bit shrewish, it made sense.

In a movie genre that has grown dramatically in attention but not so much in the story depth this made sense.  If this had been a cop drama or a spy film they would have focused much more on how catty she was being.  She went on to comment how on the movie posters they tend to put the female characters in the background.  Thing is in the posters she mentions the females are not the leads.  I, as a fan of this genre, expect to see the secondary characters in a lesser place on posters.  Really makes sense to me.

Now yes i would adore to see complex female characters in genre films.  Complaining that the modern princess movies have just made it so all princesses need to kick ass is degrading the steps they have done in story telling.  Mulan is obviously a princess movie and yes she can kick butt but she learned just like the men did in that film.  Tiana in Princess and the frog was strong of personality and was not saved by the prince.  She saved them both with her courage and grew enough to teach both the playboy prince and herself life lessons.

I SFC or strong female character does not have to be everything to be a good character.  A lot of feminists want to see what would truly be a goddess on film.  Two hours can not give you enough room to have a ton of growth and action in your characters.  If you are watching an action film there will be more action than character growth.  If you are watching science fiction you can’t expect your female lead to be introspective and kick ass with the hero.  There are lots of complex characterization on film now and they are slowly moving into the films we all adore.

I write characters who kick butt and get also get their butt kicked.  I write short and tight stories but does that mean my characters are not strong?  If the heroine in the tale is saved by the hero is she not a true representation of a modern woman?  I think not.  Because no matter how long your story, your movie or even your tv show you can not show every facet of the character.

Female characters have grown in number and in personality over the past century of story telling.  As this blogger mentioned Snow white was the classic scared and in need of rescue princess way back when.  When you watch Brave and see a strong, opinionated young princess who is head strong and as she learns, wrong, you watch her grow and learn about herself and her mother as the movie goes on.  No prince comes to save them both, it is the strength of their bond and their own selves that save them.

Thirty years ago I was stopped in the hall at Boscon, the Boston science fiction convention by a tv reporter.  Now she stopped me I am sure because I was dressed up in a velvet tunic, spandex leggings (never again) and lots of silver.  She had a few questions about women and fandom.  Now this was back around 1983.  The strongest female characters were yet to exist.  We had Charlie’s Angels running around in stilettos and bikinis and Angie Dickenson.  If you watched Science fiction on tv then you had The spandex dressed Erin Grey in Buck Rogers and well that was about it.  Princess Leia filled our movie screens and I especially loved seeing her give guff to Luke and Han.

But the real change had started.  In fiction we had strong females showing up.  Whole books and series of them.  A lot of you readers probably have not read Marion Zimmer Bradley and may not know just what she did for the genre and female characters in general.

While Darkover is thought of as a fantasy series by most it is really something called science fantasy.  The stories deal with telepaths and those who control the flow of energies with the power of their minds.  The stories mostly sit in what would be considered a dark age but there are plenty of them with Terrans interacting with their long lost cousins.  The important thing about these stories is that they had many female characters who went out and did things on their own.  They raised their children, fought to defend themselves, were guides and business women all in a society that looked down on women in ways that would make most of us outraged.  These stories, these wonderful books came out in the 60s and 70s and I read them like they were crack.  Going from these to Anne McCaffrey’s dragon riders with strong, sneaky and powerful Lessa and dignified and tragic Moreta to Menolly the girl who refused to stop her music because she was told a girl can’t be a harper.  These books have strong females who are complex.

I moved on to Jo Clayton who proved that women can carry a science fiction book all on their own.  From Aleytys starting as a simple country girl and over the course of nine books growing in complexity to a powerful woman who understood who she was and just what her place in the universe is to Shadith, once a ghost of energy inside the diadem from the Aleytys stories.  Shadith the thief, the bard and the child woman who is wiser than anyone would ever give her credit for.  The female characters written in these books are as strong or stronger in personality than most of the males written over the years.

Yes the title Strong Female Character can be taken wrong but really if you paid attention to the past 50 years of fiction, movies and tv you will see that by strong they aren’t referring to her ability to kick someone’s ass but to stand up and make her views know and to make an impact.  They might still be secondary characters in movies but they will come into their own in their own time.    Here is hoping that I can write women as powerful as those i grew up reading and if by some fluke of wonder my books become movies then i hope my daughters and granddaughters and their friends can smile and say, Hey I knew that writer and she gave me someone I could look up to.

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