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The Strong Female Character

July 21, 2014

There’s an excellent post tearing up Tumblr at the moment:

I don’t think writers realize that ‘strong female character’ means ‘well written female character’ and not ‘female character who punches stuff and shoots stuff.  ~ace-enjolras

the-strong-female-characterInitially I reblogged with a simple “Yes, Yes, Yes, for the love of God, Yes!” but it occurred to me that a significant number of the 32,000 (and counting) who are enthusiastically liking and reblogging this bit of wisdom are doing it merely to say “I don’t like River Song.”

And that’s fine, Tumblr isn’t meant to be the Algonquin Roundtable, but if we’re going to get on our high horse about one-note oversimplification about something as complicated and nuanced as a human being, then we shouldn’t resort to kneejerks and generalizations.  And so, the unabridged version:

“I don’t think writers realize that ‘strong female character’ means ‘well written female character’ and not ‘female character who punches stuff and shoots stuff'”

Yes. Yes. YES, YES, YES, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YES!  By Victoria’s Secret candyfloss shopping bags and La Perla embroidered tulle, by Eleanor of Aquitaine and C.J. Cregg, by Ambassador Delenn’s monologues in Babylon 5 and Kate Beckett’s in Castle, by Beatrice and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Rose Tyler and the Marquise de Merteuil.  A “strong female character” means first and foremost a well-written human person with all the dimensions, senses, affections and passions that implies. She may have large breasts, she may wear high heels, she may love a man and opt for the Happily Ever After.  She may sacrifice for a worthy cause–or a stupid one.  She may win; she may lose.  She may smoke pot.  She may be smart or she may be dumb. She may be a bad role model. She may not subvert a single trope. She will most certainly surprise those who thought they had her figured out on page 5; she might even surprise herself. She might be a victim, she might be a virgin, she might be a screeching bitch. She might be a slut. Most of all, she will be an honest product of a writer – male or female – who understands their own life and their own feelings and their own soul, and has the unbelievable balls to put a piece of that out there before the world. She cannot exist without that.

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