Jul 10, 2015

The Importance of Heroines

It's a pretty great time for heroines. We've got an all-female Marvel team in A-Force, the New Avengers features several women in the line-up. Mad Max: Fury Road boasts some of the best female representation in an action movie in years.

And a recent study has shown that a majority of children and teenagers want to see more women in games, and for those women to be depicted better.

But it's far from enough. Only 15% of movie protagonists are women. Women are automatically assumed to be inferior to men in certain film roles. One of the most popular and successful shows on television outright hates its women characters. And the books it's based on have some even worse treatment.

Heroines are important. A few scattered examples here and there aren't enough. For every Princess Leia, there are a dozen Han Solos.

We need more Princess Leias. It all started with her. Instead of sitting back and letting the boys do all the work, she grabbed a blaster got them out of an impossible situation. She carried out intelligence missions, co-ordinated assaults, planned battle strategies. She strangled the most dangerous gangster in the galaxy to death and is one of only two people known who had the guts to mouth off to Darth Vader, and the other one was nearly killed for it.

Princess Leia, Ellen Ripley, Tasha Yar, Buffy Summers, Xena, Lara Croft, River Tam, Kara Thrace, Imperator Furiosa. Why so few? Why so far apart?

"In every generation there is a chosen one"

Why do we allow ourselves to place all the responsibility of being a heroine onto the shoulders of one character at a time? Why does every new female character have to embody all aspects of being a woman at once? Why shouldn't we seek out more heroines, and create new ones whenever we can?

With Red Skies now over a week in the world, this has been on my mind a lot. As much as I dream of one day seeing people rank Cora Ravenell among the great heroines, I hope to see even more by her side.

Let's go tell some stories.

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