Monday, September 14, 2009

Strong female protagonists

The blogger at () recently attended a workshop on strong female protagonists and posted this report. Really thought-provoking commentary. (I'm dying to know if the factoid about Ripley is true! Does anyone know?)

Here's a snippet from the post ...

Some of the authors on the panel talked about how their female protagonists aren't really strong - they're just so incredibly vulnerable that they have no choice but to buck up a little bit to survive. Others talked about how their heroines' strength was born out of how much said heroines hate themselves.

The post generated some great discussion on both the blog and Critique Circle (login required).

- Sharon


  1. That's a great article. I need to add that blog to my blogroll.

    I wondered about that Ripley tidbit too. Very interesting.

  2. Very interesting post. Very sad discussion at the workshop! Our heroines can't be strong AND vulnerable? They have to hate themselves? WTF? BTW this goes for the guys, too. And does no one remember Emma Peel of THE AVENGERS? (this is the original '60's version played by Diana Rigg). Smart, sexy as hell, confident, kick ASS, equal partner in all things to John Steed. She's the prototype for all my space opera heroines. Donna

  3. I'll have to check out Emma Steed, Donna. I'm not familiar with The Avengers.

    One of my inspirations for my stronger female characters is Vasquez from Aliens. She's tough, but totally believable. I love her line when a fellow male Marine asks her in a very condescending tone if she's ever been mistaken for a man.

    Her reply: "No. Have you?"

    It's a classic.

  4. Oops. Emma Peel. Got my last names mixed up there.

  5. OMG, you MUST hit Netflix or your local video outlet and treat yourself to this early British SF/spy series. Emma Peel ROCKS! and I had a crush on John Steed even though he was already old as dirt and I was like 9 or 10.

  6. They can be vunerable, but that doesn't necessarily make them a wimp. In my soon to be released story, Slipping the Past, Jocelyn Miller, my heroine, is blind, homeless and a fugative for crimes she committed before she was born. She might be blind, but she's not a wimp and the many times she gets backed into corner, she fights her way out. As far as hating herself. She's comfortable in her skin.
    Emma Peel was awesome.
    I completely agree.
    Some strong, fearless women heroines in fiction and some of my favorites are...
    Mariko--Shogun by James Clavell
    Dinah--The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
    Anna--My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (She might be young, but she makes decisions that would be difficult for an adult and sticks to her guns)
    Murphy--Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher
    Dr. Lindsey Brigman--The Abyss
    Esther--One Night with the King
    Padmae Amidala--Attack of the Clones--she kicks ass and holds her own while staked out in a colleseum.
    We could probably list them all night--they're out there. Sometimes their strengths are not what you'd expect as in Anna's case when her parents try to force her to give her sister a kidney. She's never had a childhood and is a perfectly healthy teenager who practically lives at the hospital. Her choice to take her life back is both heartbreaking and extremely brave. Or Esther who walks into her husband's throneroom without being summoned, knowing to do so is a death sentence. Why? To save her people.

  7. Zoe from Firefly was indeed an awesome female protag. Loved her character.


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