Strong Female Characters

After reading about the Black Widow controversy, I’ve been thinking a lot about strong female characters. How we write them. How we define them.

You see, there’s a tone to that article that really bothers me. There’s a scorn for motherhood and the desire for children that’s stuck with me for days after reading it. When did we start defining “strong” by scorning all things traditionally female? Why couldn’t a kick-ass assassin regret having sterilization surgery? That’s kind of a big deal.

Have I missed the articles about how having a family tucked away in a farmhouse weakens Hawkeye’s big character reveal? Scorn for “Daddy Hawkeye”? Clearly, he is no longer a strong male character. Right?

I guess, when it comes down to it, my question is this: When did “strong female” become “solo woman who does nothing but kick ass”? 

I love women who can fight. I’ve always loved the idea of female warriors. But that isn’t–and shouldn’t be–all that makes a woman strong. It’s not ideal or practical. Not even for men. There are plenty of guys out there who can’t fight, after all.

Strong is the mother who gets up at all hours with her small children and still does her job. Strong is the woman who doesn’t want children and spends her days kicking ass at a job she loves. Or–dare I say it–the dad who stays at home with his children and gives a big middle finger to a society who says that makes him weak.

I want my characters to be defined as “strong” because of who they are, not what they do. Integrity, loyalty, bravery, tenacity, purpose. But most of all? Deciding what they want and going for it.

Even if what they want is “only” having babies.



4 thoughts on “Strong Female Characters

  1. Personally I think it was cool that she used that experience to bridge the gap to Bruce. I’ve never seen why a woman had to be manly to be strong. Strength is about will and determination, not manliness or ability to me. You are not strong because you succeed, but because you try. To me she is strong to use tragedy from her past to make someone see they are not alone.

  2. Amen. I think in the real world, mothers are the strongest characters of all. I was recently asked in an author interview what fiction character I was most like and I said, “Molly Weasley – because she was a tough mom who raised awesome kids and she was also a powerful witch!” (maybe I’m not her, but I am working towards it!)

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