Women as Heroines in SciFi/Fantasy

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Undomiel, Mar 24, 2004.

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  1. starbuccaneer Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Lieutenant Dax from Deep Space Nine.

    She's a veritable genius, holds her own with Klingons and Ferengi, has 300 years of life experience and confidence, and wears a full uniform most of the time!

    Most of the women on Trek are on an extreme end of the passive/agressive scale. Janeway isn't agressive in a violent way, but in a lot of the stories, she's a prime example of a woman who's so taken with her power that she won't listen to other people (when she DOES give in and do what her male first officer says, the problem gets solved).

    In fantasy, there's a great heroine in The Deed of Paksenarrion, by Elizabeth Moon.

    EDIT: Part of the lack of ... not realistic, but admirable heroines is that a lot of girls don't go out and watch scifi movies, like someone up there said. IMO that's because, for the most part, there's nobody for them to identify with! Aside from Ripley, I RARELY come out of a scifi movie ADMIRING the heroine.
  2. Space_Man Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2003
    star 3
    DarthArsenal6: Erm...yes. 8-} ;)






    What's become of Undomiel?? She has a lot of responding to catch-up with!!
  3. TheVioletBurns Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 4
    In The Matrix, the real hero is one man. Neo. Sure he needs his lady, but he doesn't ACTUALLY need his lady She can't do what he does because....Uh.. I mean, come on! The battle is in the Matrix! It doesn't take real physical strength to fight in the Matrix! Why, oh why, did they have to make even that part the purview of a male heroic figure?

    This couldn't be farther from the truth - Neo would have gotten absolutely nowhere in all three films without Trinity. He needs her more than anything. She is his divine half, his teacher, and his reason for existing. (btw, the battle is far from in the Matrix by the time we get to Revolutions.)

    This coming from a female, Trinity is one of my favorite sci-fi heroines because she is the absolute antithesis of Mary Sue. She has integrity, is completely selfess and devoted, and never loses her feminimity while alternating between roles as a warrior, a lover, and a healer. She works as an independent character without having to be "defined" by the lead (it's actually Neo who defines himself by her - a nice twist!).

    My other favorites would be Leia and Scully, the latter of which has a similar relationship as Trinity's to the "main male hero" - where the heck would Mulder be without Scully? That's a question that would take awhile to properly answer, but the short of it - in no man's land.
  4. yodagirl02 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2002
    star 1
    Personally, I am totally in agreement with the feminist point being made here. It's not that there arent any female heriones, but they are so underrepresented it's disturbing. Why cant there be a sci-fi/heroe's journey story with a female lead? And sorry, you just cant compare Eowyn to Frodo or Aragorn. She gets like three minutes of screen time. Yeah she's tough, but she isnt the main character. And the female characters in SW can be bossy and take-charge, but they always have to be rescued, never get deeply involved in the real fight, and are too well dressed to be believable heroines. Trinity in the Matrix is another slightly weak woman. It makes me so mad that women arent represented as heroes- were fans too! Personally i find it infuriating and frustarating.
  5. DarthArsenal6 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2001
    star 5
    SPACE_MAN erm...no :p ;)

    Anyway.....

    Dax I will give you I should have pointed her out as well, not to mentioned Ensign Rio In TNG.

    Janeway is a prime example of a woman who's so taken with her power that she won't listen to other people (when she DOES give in and do what her male first officer says, the problem gets solved).

    this is true and is very bad example of female heroism

    And the female characters in SW can be bossy and take-charge, but they always have to be rescued, never get deeply involved in the real fight

    That?s a tad bit of an insult to Mara Jade :p - :D


    PS SPACEMAN you knwo its A joke right ?
    No ! ! :(

  6. yodagirl02 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2002
    star 1
    Are we talking about screen only? Because of course, we have to extend props to Mara Jade, Tenel Ka, and Jania, a few of our fiercly tough EU ladies! Also, a cool book series is Enchantress from the Stars and The Far Side Of Heaven by Sylvia Engdhal- a enlightened series starring a female agent.
  7. ivaj Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2004
    I've always felt that a female heroine is just stronger than the male counterpart. Simply because she has to go beyond the idealogy of what a woman is.
  8. Lord_Riven Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2001
    star 4
    Uma Thurman's character in Kill Bill vol 1. (I would class Kill Bill as a fantasy flick cos' it is just soooo unrealistic)

  9. DarthArsenal6 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2001
    star 5
    Yodagirl2, I was angered when GL never put any female poilets in RotJ. :(

    Plus I think it would have been cool to a have a female Sith- it gives the film more depth and meaning.

    Imagine in Star WArs was to change from Father & Son seniro to Mother and Daughter Seniro
    will your views of SW change ?

    In terms of story telling ?

    Also:
    I think Starbuck in the new Battlestar Galatica is pretty cool. Shes corragous and funny at times.


    There are somejames bond girls that i rate.

  10. Silmarillion Manager Emerita/Ex RSA

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 1999
    star 6
  11. DarthArsenal6 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2001
    star 5
    good artical


    but totally disagree with Trinity and Buffy !


    Speaking of Herione in the Star trek universe

    Majel Barret played a Charater in the very first Star Trek Episode her name was Number one.
  12. Zephir Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 1999
    star 1
    Wow, this is a huge can of worms.

    First, we have to look a little bit at the genre. Sci-fi/Fantasy typically involves circumstances which are super-natural--outside of the norm, which means the problems require more than normal people or actions or abilities to get through it. Since so much of this literature is escapist, much of the circumstances, and powers involved to solve them, become symbolic so as to take on some kind of relevance or point of contact with the world we face every day. I think to say that Buffy is not a good role model because of her super-strength is not a valid point within the realm of science fiction. If Buffy existed in realism literature, one might have a point. However, someone said that Buffy has to have the self-discipline to master her slayer strength, and this shows good role model etc. for Buffy, and I have to agree with this for the purpose of this argument.

    We also have to examine the traditional roles of men and women, and the technique that the author employs in enhancing those roles for the purpose of science fiction/fantasy. There tend to be two camps that I have observed thus far: those who *enhance* the traditional roles of men and women, and those who *transfer* roles of men and women.

    Enhancing characters seems to be the easiest thing to do as far as characterizations go. Men, the ones who go off to war historically, now go off to battle with superpowers or superknowledge or supertechnology. For women, the enhanced character involves an advanced support system. It would be someone like Trinity: she is, while a heroine, not the person that is ultimately responsible for the fate of the world. So her role as a support system for Neo is given super-natural enhancements. I do not think this is a bad role for a female. However, if this is the only role females ever play, I think it would definitely be short-sighted of the literary community, just like it would be rather redundant to have only male-type female heroines.

    Now, transferring traditional characteristics between males and females is not a bad thing, and it is not unprecedented. How many of you know a guy who is definitely straight, but is an awesome cook? Or a girl who is most definitely feminine, but a great mechanic (ie Angelina Jolie "gone in 60 seconds"--tho I'm not endorsing that as a great story :p)? Within the context of sci-fi/fantasy, this kind of thing just has to be enhanced in order for the woman to take on a truly central heroine status. Unfortunately, it is a very hard thing to write without turning the female (especially) into a "butch" character. I think Xena is a prime example of what-went-wrong. Her concept is great, but the writers just couldn't figure out how best to flesh her out and keep her true to her character. One of the few times I have seen this successfully pulled off is Robin McKinley's Aerin in the Hero and the Crown. She is feminine, she is the hero, and she gets two guys! Eat your heart out, James Bond! :D

    Sort-of switching gears, I saw Mara Jade mentioned negatively for being in the tortured-hero class. This really has nothing to do with a slam on female heroines; this stereotype can be applied to male as well as female heroes with varying degrees of success. I think the root of this comes from the fact that many of us do experience things in life that are almost crippling in their nature, and like it or not, it is something we have to overcome, or at least not allow to paralyze us. So many people going through this instinctively are attracted to the 'tortured hero.' Now, I (unlike some people I'm sure) admire how Timothy Zahn wrote Mara Jade. I abhore some of the other authors' interpretations of her, though. :D Anyway, Zahn created and, most importantly, *grew* Mara within her character. She overcame. Perhaps I am fond of Mara because I was introduced to her at a time of life where I was discovering some emotional handicaps that I was facing and had to learn to live with, since I couldn't do anything about it. As corny as it may sound, Mara really inspired me and gave me st
  13. yodagirl02 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2002
    star 1
    For some reason, I just don't think Leia is that strong a character. She's admirable, but being bossy doesnt make you strong. Look at some of her lines "Just...hold me." and being put in a gold bikini? Trinity is strong, but most of what she does is motivated by love...not that that's a bad thing. Also, she was working for Morphues before she even met Neo, so she is strong for her own reasons. I read a childrens series called Animorphs, where two of the five main characters were female, and the females were sometimes stronger then the males. If only there were some more good female lead characters.
  14. RubberDuckyfromSpace Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 28, 2002
    star 4
    and being put in a gold bikini?

    True, but do note that she clearly does not enjoy being in the gold bikini.
  15. Jansons_Funny_Twin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    How many of you know a guy who is definitely straight, but is an awesome cook? Or a girl who is most definitely feminine, but a great mechanic

    Well, I'm a straight male who's good at cooking (well, when I'm not on a budget :p ), and my friend Kelly works on my car for me (and she's very, very feminine. [face_mischief]




    b4k4^2
  16. DarthArsenal6 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2001
    star 5
    Hi Zephir :)

    If Buffy existed in realism literature, one might have a point. However, someone said that Buffy has to have the self-discipline to master her slayer strength, and this shows good role model etc. for Buffy, and I have to agree with this for the purpose of this argument.

    Ok for the Self-discipline on Buffy yes it is a very good role Model but I can?t
    Rate her like Ellen Riply when I constantly see the actress, Michelle Geller in FHM Mag and referring her Buffy Character via pictures or anything involved vampire slaying.

    For women, the enhanced character involves an advanced support system. It would be someone like Trinity: she is, while a heroine, not the person that is ultimately responsible for the fate of the world. So her role as a support system for Neo is given super-natural enhancements. I do not think this is a bad role for a female. However, if this is the only role females ever play, I think it would definitely be short-sighted of the literary community, just like it would be rather redundant to have only male-type female heroines.

    I don?t think it?s a bad role model to play for a support system, but its like you said If it?s the only role females ever play a support system ?is what I have the problem with, I would love to see the Matrix story turn around and see Trinity as the one, beating the crap out of Smith as we did in Reloaded :D.

    Now, transferring traditional characteristics between males and females is not a bad thing, and it is not unprecedented. How many of you know a guy who is definitely straight, but is an awesome cook? Or a girl who is most definitely feminine, but a great mechanic (ie Angelina Jolie "gone in 60 seconds"--tho I'm not endorsing that as a great story :p)? Within the context of sci-fi/fantasy, this kind of thing just has to be enhanced in order for the woman to take on a truly central heroine status.

    I don?t know what you mean by the word straight :p
    anyway I disagree with you there. Look at some of Ridly Scotts work, in his films he has got some strong Female Character ( lets forget GI jane [face_plain] ) and they didn?t need to do mens job to prove that they were strong. Even look at the very first original Star Trek episode, No.1 played by Majel Barrett was a strong Character and she also didn?t lift heavy equipment to proof to the men.

    Unfortunately, it is a very hard thing to write without turning the female (especially) into a "butch" character. I think Xena is a prime example of what-went-wrong. Her concept is great, but the writers just couldn't figure out how best to flesh her out and keep her true to her character.

    By reading that, are you referring Ellen Riply as a Butch as well as Thelma and Louis on a different prospective ? To be honest the writers of Xena were very bad and just had no idea how to make a proper heroine. It was like watching Knightrider or TJ Hooker but putting woman as the hero.- y?know never do anything wrong manage to beat up all the bad guys with crappy fighting, all the case falls in together miraculously and its solved quickly. The whole point of a Hero is the one who struggles to reach his/her task or suffer in the process so that we can appreciate it
    not ? oh I walk in, found a clue solved a case, beat up a few guys ?the end
    Besides Xena was just another Dominatrix for the men ? and in my opinion she wasn?t a good one either. :p
    (same is applied to Alias although it does have good story lines as compare to Xena series)

    Sort-of switching gears, I saw Mara Jade mentioned negatively for being in the tortured-hero class. This really has nothing to do with a slam on female heroines; this stereotype can be applied to male as well as female heroes with varying degrees of success. I think the root of this comes from the fact that many of us do experience things in life that are almost crippling in their nature, and like it or not, it is something we have to overcome, or at least not allow to paralyze us. So many people going through
  17. Darth_Rogue Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2003
    star 4
    There aren't alot of "strong female action hero-type characters" because, quite honestly, the majority of girls don't like watching action movies...

    They prefer stuff like "Jersey Girl" and "The Virgin Suicides"...

    It's the nature of the species. Pretty sure it's all related to some chemical imbalance.


    What about the many women and girls on this website who obviously enjoy action films like SW?

    I for one, have seen a few action and horror movies.
    1. SW Saga
    2. Terminator (first two)
    3. The Mummy
    4. Superman
    5. Halloween
    6. Friday the 13th
    7. Scream trilogy
    8. Nightmare on Elm Street
    9. Blade
    10. X-Men and X2
    11. Spiderman
    12. Daredevil

    Not to mention action and/or horror shows like Buffy, Angel, Alias, Charmed, and Smallville.
  18. Mara Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 1999
    star 4
    Despite women being more and more depicted as strong characters in SciFi/Fantasy movies, they're still a lot less than the male characters. And most of the times, they apparently have to be sexy to kick arse or else they're worthless.

    A counter example of this is Dana Scully, but she's just one example. I liked her for not being the perfect-body female and being strong, bright and heroic.

    Ripley must be the female character I most admire from the old SciFi movies. She's not a 'omg, she's so hot' female character and kicks serious arse. At the time the movie was made rarely did people see females having such parts in SciFi movies. Don't get me wrong - I like Leia, and she *is* a strong female character, but she still has to be saved by the 'knights in shinning armor' from the Death Star prison.

    Look at Enterprise T'pol -
    when is the last time did you ever see a Female Vulcan dressed up in a tight custume. And did we ever see spock bare chest not that i want to see it

    Boost ratings ? - pethetic !


    Absolutely. It all started with Seven in Voyager. I found it somewhat amusing that a Borg had to be as perfect human female as it could be and that the number of facial implants due to sheer luck no doubt was extremely low. :rolleyes:



    Like I said: thankfully there are more and more strong female characters in Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies and books, however (especially in movies) they're almost always depicted as being great looking and in need to be saved at some point (Van Helsing was the most recent example I watched of that, but there are dozens more :rolleyes: ).

    A strong female character (who ends up saving a guy for a change :p) is Sophia Forrester from the retro Sci-Fi/Fantasy anime Last Exile.
  19. -E- Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 1, 2003
    star 3
    Someone may have mentioned this, but there is a reason why Number One (saw her mentioned in here)in classic Trek was dumped after the pilot. Paramount told the production to can her because a female in a position to give orders would never be acceptable to audiences. A space creature officer's okay; people can buy that. It *is* the future, after all.
    Yeah, it was the 60's, but still something bearing mention. A lack of female heros nowadays may have more to do with modern bureaucratic business than just ideals.
  20. lomion Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2004
    star 3
    In Spiderman, the real hero is one man.
    Uhm, the name of the comic/movie is spiderman, it's about a guy. What else should they do? It's not spidey and MJ after all. And the comic itself has had a number of heroic women in it.

    Even freakin' Harry Potter has one real hero, a boy named .... Harry Potter.

    And hermione is shown as a hero and acknolwedged as such in the movies and the books.



    The list is lengthy and somewhat depressing. Of the myriad movies and stories with heroic figures, only one comes to mind that features a female heroine (Terminator), and even she spends most of her life preparing her son to be the REAL hero of the story (remember John Connor)? By the time he realizes she's not joking, she's already so battle hardened and cynical, he has to correct her for her bitterness towards the men who designed the atom bomb. He's so wise and has so much life experience at the ripe old age of what? 14? that now he can correct his mom, the woman he claimed was just a nutcase, who taught him everything he DID know. *chuckle* And just where is our heroine when her son finally realizes she's not crazy afterall? In the looney bin....of course. Don't all our heroines come from the nutfarm?

    Well she was consumed by her cause, obsessed by it. And children often can see things obvious that adults miss. My son, who is four, has done that to me. IMHO she is the real hero of #2. And at the end of #1 she is shown as such. Also any kid will think their parents are nuts, it's natural ;).

    Oh, and lest I forget, the next villian for the Terminator films is... *drumroll* ... a woman. And the hero, of course, is ...*lengthy drumroll* ... a man or to be more precise, a male cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton. Yada, yada, yawn.
    Actually in the first two, the villian is a male figure. First Arnie, then the cop guy.

    Anybody know who the heroic figure of "X-Men" the movie was? Honestly, he's the man! Wolverine!

    In the second one, Jean Grey does the most heroic thing in the story. In the first one, the story was focused on Wolverine though.


    What about True Lies? Commando? Predator? Total Recall? Die Hard? The Fifth Element? Battlestar Galactica? Babylon 5? Star Trek? Lord of the Rings? Conan?

    Well in the first few you mention they are arnie films. Die Hard was a guy. The Fifth Element the supreme being was a woman, and a man had to support her in it. BG was more mixed as was B5, ST and LOTR. And Conan is about a guy, the title character. LOTR has a number of female heroic types. Eowyn is a perfect example.



    Whatever happened to Irulan? For years, she cared for and watched over Paul's children. All those years of dedication and yet you don't see another word about her in the following books. What a dis to womanhood and mothers.


    As for Dune. I think you are overlooking Lady Jessica. She was a powerful and heroic figure in the first book. One of the subheads was a question why they underestimated her. The fact she does all she does in the light of what her son is is amazing. I have not read beyond the first book, but women are not negatively portrayed I think. In fact if anything, it is the men who are conniving, schemeing and overall shown to be weak.

    Sci-Fi and Fantasy have a decent mix I think of female and male heros. It depends who you read though. Also the genre has typically been targetted at males, so that influences things.
  21. Moriarte Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2001
    star 5
    I think what needs to be mentioned here is that while presenting women being just as capable as men in terms combat, intelligence, resourcefulness, etc. (and vice-versa) is one thing-PUSHING "girl-p0wer" on people is just disgusting.

    There are plenty of ways of showing women being strong WITHOUT having to purposefully and agonizingly shove a scene in the audiences' face where Man Y does something impressive and Woman X does something also impressive with a delightful smirk to the man, and the other men staring in wonderment [face_plain].

    This happened in Chronicles of Riddic (don't see this movie!), this happened in Pirates of the Caribbean (the woman's character did not show nor imply at all what she was "capable" of which made it unbelievable) and this WILL happen in the upcoming King Arthur movie which, sadly, looks like garbage. Plenty of staged "girl-p0wer" scenes in there.


    Gun-Kata :cool:
  22. Mara Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 1999
    star 4
    I sometimes agree with what you said Moriarte, despite not agreeing with some of your examples.

    There are several movies where there's an emphasis on the 'women can do it as well as the men, just watch!' thing. I dislike that it's made such a big a deal when a female character kicks arse. It should be treated as any other male character's action. As should the clothes. I sure don't see the same percentage of sexy men hanging around wearing revealing clothes as much as the female characters do in movies.

    How many times have I seen medieval female paladin characters with armor that shows their chests? Is that in any way protecting that part of their body? Isn't that the purpose of an armor or do the rules change when it's a woman, and it's perfectly normal to have absolutely no chest protection just because the *must* look good and therefor their boobs (can I use this word here?, edit if I can't) must be shown for the male audiences to drool?
  23. -E- Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 1, 2003
    star 3
    I also have problems with the "girl power" scenes; they tend to beat the audience over the head, making them non-believable. Often when there is much ado about something, it serves to point out that it's "look, *aberrant*!" - not real power at all there.

    Imagine if we were having this discussion about minorities in media; it's often more noticable how condescending society is to them than women. It's sort of the "Queer Eye" effect; when a group is featured, it's often done in a pandering and one-dimentional way. Unfortunately, women in action and SF are still modeled purely around their relationships to male characters, whether it be by supporting them or surpassing them. This has made many a book and a movie all to predictable.
  24. zvezdy Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2003
    star 2
    I'd like to see a female heroine that is realistic.

    Big, strong, and butch.
  25. Mara Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 1999
    star 4
    I'd like to see a female heroine that is realistic.

    Big, strong, and butch.


    Well, you've got Xena for that, and she's not very realistic, if you ask me. ;)

    But, why in your oppinion should female heroins be big, strong and butch to be realistic? Heroins don't need to wield weapons to kick serious arse. ;) And those who do don't need to be any of those things... they can be small, agile and intelligent and hit adversaries like that. In fact I usually prefer those characters in fantasy RPGs (I usually play rogues) to the 'ugh! me fighter!' characters, who aren't much fun to play or watch. For me, anyway. :)
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