About Kick-ass Women
Have you seen the teaser for Rogue One yet? No?! Well, sit back my friend and watch this:
Is that cool, or what? I just looove this line:
This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.
This teaser is firing on all channels for me – the Dirty Dozen meets Star Wars. I mean, sure, it means that we have another movie with a Death Star in it (3 out of 8, if you’re counting) and, sure, is it really plausible that the crime “aggravated assault” (which, as a friend has pointed out, has a bit of a fiddly legal definition) would show up in a Galaxy Far Far Away? Maybe not, but I don’t really care. It looks raucously awesome and I just can’t wait.
And yet, there are a contingent of creeps and jackholes out there who are whining and moaning things along the lines of “what, another female lead?” and then follow it with a load of idiotic MRA chauvinist garbage. Now, these nimrods are being appropriately shouted down by…well…just about everybody and I suppose I could spend this post ranting and raving about why they’re miserable slugs. Instead of talking about how bad they are, though, I’d like to spend some time talking about why I, a man, really love kick-ass female lead characters.
Let’s see, where to begin…oh yeah…
My Mother Kicks Ass
I could tell stories about how incredibly badass my mother is for a while (hell, I could tell stories about how badass all the women in my family are), but that would make this post a bit long and (checking watch) I’ve got about 700 more words before most of you lose interest. I will, however, give you this small taste:
Before I was born, my parents were driving in a van late at night with a friend. My father was asleep in the back seat and the friend was driving. The highway had the whole right lane closed, marked off with those big orange-and-white cans every thirty or forty feet. There wasn’t much room on the road – no shoulder to speak of, just a big ditch right off the side.
Suddenly, barrelling up the road and laying on its horn, is a runaway semitruck. He’s flashing his lights, he’s honking – basically screaming “Can’t stop! Look Out!”
The guy driving the van freezes – the truck is going to overtake them, and either run them off the road into a ditch or smash them flat. Leaping into action, my mother leans across the center console, grabs the wheel with one hand, and proceeds to pilot the car from the passenger seat into the lane marked off by traffic cans. Not only does she do this, but she slaloms in and out of the cans, allowing the semi to move over just enough to they aren’t crushed and yet not so far over into the work zone that they hit the abandoned road-repair equipment, piles of gravel, etc..
All from the passenger seat while the driver screams.
So, yeah, my mom is badass. Hell, mothers in general are badasses and all of us men should be at least tangentially aware of this fact. Having been raised by the terrestrial equivalent of Ellen Ripley, I kinda dig characters that channel that primal emotive force that is the “protective mother.” Can’t understand why anybody wouldn’t. It’s awesome!
And even beyond this relatively narrow role of “mother,” kick-ass female leads represent a fresh perspective on the tired old trope of the muscle-bound, grim male protagonist. We have, as a culture, been limiting ourselves for a very, very long time with this “boys only” nonsense. I mean, come on – don’t you get just a little bored of only seeing men defeat the bad guys, over and over again? And sure, the misogynists of the world are apt to yelp “but it isn’t realistic, a girl beating up men!”
First off, fuck you – my mom could kick your ass. So could probably hundreds of women. To quote Germaine Greer
here for a second:
Only a minute proportion of males will ever come within reach of an Olympic record, but the achievements of male record-holders empower all men. The implication that the weakest man must be stronger and faster than any woman whatsoever is obviously absurd.
In the context of fiction, there is simply no excuse for using the idea that “most” men are physically stronger than “most” women to deny women the spotlight. I mean, sure, that’s technically true, but most women are not Imperator Furiosa just like most men are not Mad Max.
Women can and do and have competed with men on all manner of fields and won. That is unequivocal truth. Women such as that deserve to have their stories told not because they are women, but because they represent and entire new set of experiences and ideas and stories that just haven’t been sufficiently explored.
Strength Isn’t All About Punching!
And furthermore, the idea that we should deny women the lead in adventure films because they aren’t able to bench press the same amount as the guys is really, really stupid. “Strength” does not always translate directly into being kick-ass and such is a very narrow and, again, boring view to ascribe to. Take Leia, for instance – sure, she knows her way around a blaster, fine – but I would argue her most heroic moments aren’t physical ones at all. The way she stares death in the face while captive on the Death Star and doesn’t bat an eyelash. The way she takes charge in Hoth and, with her guidance, saves the lives of hundreds of rebels. She’s there while the base is falling around her ears and has to literally be dragged away from her post by Han. That is courage and heroism equal to any character, male or female. It’s inspiring, its interesting, and it is unequivocally badass.
In short, I love kickass female leads! They inspire me, they remind me of the women I love, and they are every bit as exciting (if not more so) than the male leads we’re all used to. There aren’t enough of them out there, frankly, and I am very pleased that the Star Wars franchise is stepping up and introducing us to more of them.
I can’t wait.
By The Way…
The Oldest Trick is still on sale, but not for long! If you like kickass female characters, this book won’t disappoint – just wait until you meet Hool! And Tyvian’s mom! And Myreon Alafarr! Go get it now!
Posted on April 8, 2016, in Critiques, Theories, and Random Thoughts and tagged Ellen Ripley, female characters, feminism, heroes, Imperator Furiosa, Leia, Rogue One. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
It’s a hallmark of an Abrams production to have a strong female lead/major character (although I admit I’m not sure Bad Robot is involved in Rogue One). What’s great about it isn’t so much the fact that he insists on it, it’s how he does it. Sydney Bristow from Alias, I would argue, is the best portrayal of a heroine in the action genre that I’ve seen on screen to date. Not only can she dish out punishment in an almost horrifying capacity, she displays feminine characteristics of both the strong and vulnerable variety. She’s believable. Not just a woman slotted in to play an Arnold Schwarzenegger role.
Also – give me more Hool. I need more Hool. Give it, Habershaw!
More Hool is coming! June 23rd!