Women as Heroines in SciFi/Fantasy

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

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  1. JediKnightOB1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 26, 2003
    star 5
    Misty Mundae is the first person that comes to my mind.
  2. Billy_Shears Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2002
    star 3
    Just you all wait till the Metroid movie. ;)

    Which will probably suck, but still...er....

    And you're also forgetting Naiobi (sp?) and Zee from the Matrix sequels.
  3. Mara Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 1999
    star 4
    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)?

    Well, I know a guy who can cook pretty well and who's straight (yes, I'm sure) and a lesbian who cooks equally well and who doesn't do any 'manly stuff' (a big stereotype) and several straight female programmers, which is an area still viewed as mainly masculine. I'm currently in college studying Computer Science and despite the huge number of males and small number of females, in terms of percentage, more females pass (with good grades) than males. ;)

    And as for the characters not being realistic: I'd much rather see an adult female who's a total computer geek in a movie, than seeing for the zillionth time the usual 14 year-old kid who's a hyper computer genious. :rolleyes: The more original the characters are, the better (as long as their consistent, of course ;)).

    I tend to think that the exceptions to the rule are far more interesting than those stereotyped characters. :)
  4. Undomiel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2002
    star 4
    Wow, guess I should've come back and read this thread after I posted it initially. What a great discussion it developed into. Interesting ideas and thoughts all around.

    At the time I was writing it, I had just seen Alien (the movie) again. I had only watched it once before and that was many years ago. I was so inspired by the believeable portrayal of Ripley, that it made the rest of the female heroine stories I had seen in recent years, pale by comparison. And it focused my mind on the inherent lack of similar roles in today's films. I do like Captain Janeway, however. She's in there with Ripley.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I really do love the whole knight in shining armor thing, as I am personally a die-hard romantic and a good, strong, honorable man is worth more than any monetary reward I can imagine. It's just that I see the lack of strong, believeable heroines in mass media as a social-engineering mistake. Our societies are putting increasing pressure and responsibility on women to survive in an ofttimes hostile environment. It's tough world out there, and women have to survive in it too, sometimes with the added burden of several children and a missing husband/father. They need role models that won't portray women as dependent, sex-craved, moral-less, talent-less, insipid, nutbars, because frankly, they can't afford to be that way themselves. It's an insult to your moms, your sisters, your daughters, your nieces, your girlfriends, your wives, etc, to consistently portray women in such a light when surely there are other options?
  5. Darth Morella Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2004
    star 6
    Umm, what about Lara Croft?. Certainly she appears wearing leather bodices and hotpants but she seems to know her business and does not depend on a man to do the dirty job for her.

    It is a lame suggestion but is the only heroin I can think of right now.
  6. Old Republic Royalty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 1998
    star 4
    I think the amount of female heroines is probably proportional to the amount of women interested in scifi/fantasy/action. Undomiel points out that women in our society are frequently heroes (as mothers, wives, independent women, etc)... However, in that context women are portrayed as strong, loyal, resourceful, etc all the time -- just not in action movies. Watch Fried Green Tomatoes or Steel Magnolias or... I'm sure you get my drift.

    Another thought was that there are few or no female characters like Ellen Ripley. True. But are there that many male characters like Ripley either? And, I get annoyed when the female character is just a sex object, but I don't mind instances like Jennifer Gardiner's Alias alter-ego. Or better yet, one of my favorites, the t.v. La Femme Nikita. I think its very true to life when female characters dress/act sexier than their male counterparts because a sexy woman in a situation were she needs to have every circumstance to her advantage would use her sex appeal... excluding the super stupid low cut breast plate.

    Personally, I can say I wish there were more lead scifi/fantasy heroines. But, that's mostly because I enjoy them so much. And, I prefer a Ripley or Sarah Connor (circa T1) -- who are not supernaturally endowed with mega-strength -- because they're more interesting. I can imagine me being them. That put in similiar situations I would be a survivor as well. Then again, I like my male characters that way as well. Farscape's Crichton is an example that comes to mind. Which brings to mind another strong female character, Aeryn Sun.
  7. ST-TPM-ASF-TNE Moderator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2001
    star 6
    Sarah Connor (circa T1)

    I never thought of Sarah Conner as a heroine in The Terminator. She's the main character, but she does nothing particularily heroic, at least not until the very end. I think she's more of a heroine in T2.
  8. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    Susan Calvin is intelligent, unemotional, clever and witty. She is the best character of all time. Don't go by the movie version, go by the short story version.
    She is a great character, she really is.
    The best robopsyhiatrist around.

    -Seldon
  9. Mara Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 1999
    star 4
    Personally, I can say I wish there were more lead scifi/fantasy heroines. But, that's mostly because I enjoy them so much. And, I prefer a Ripley or Sarah Connor (circa T1) -- who are not supernaturally endowed with mega-strength -- because they're more interesting. I can imagine me being them. That put in similiar situations I would be a survivor as well. Then again, I like my male characters that way as well. Farscape's Crichton is an example that comes to mind. Which brings to mind another strong female character, Aeryn Sun.

    Ah... I've only watched the first 11 episodes of Farscape, but Aeryn Sun has already joined the group of heroines I like. From what I saw of the show, she's usually not wearing revealing clothes, has a cool attitude and kicks serious ass. However, after reading spoilers of what's ahead... despite me liking the Sun/Crichton thing - why does the heroine always have to hook up with a guy?
    Yes, the male heroes hook up with women a lot too, but I get the impression that on a smaller scale.

    To me there's a definite need to have more female heroes who aren't there being sexy or that, on the other hand, are 'ugh' in sci-fi and fantasy. I'm not quite sure if the proportion of female heroins/female sci-fi&fantasy fans is the same. And even if it is, the number of heroins a female fan can relate to decreases a lot, since almost all of them are either portrayed by sexy, (not necessarily) big-boobed (the blond chick from the new version of Planet of the Apes comes to mind... what was she doing there anyway, besides being decorative and inflating her breasts? ?[face_plain]) acresses or by very butch-looking ones (Vasquez, from Aliens is a good example) which aren't not even by a longshot, representatives of the female fans in most cases.

    There are a *lot* more average-looking male heroes than there are average-looking female heroins (proportionally speaking of course ;)).
  10. Old Republic Royalty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 1998
    star 4
    I never thought of Sarah Conner as a heroine in The Terminator. She's the main character, but she does nothing particularily heroic, at least not until the very end. I think she's more of a heroine in T2.
    Maybe not the hero to start with, but definitely the protaganist and the heroine at the end. I'm partial to The Terminator's Sarah... being that The Terminator is probably my favorite movie. Tied with Aliens, of course. :)



    Ah... I've only watched the first 11 episodes of Farscape, but Aeryn Sun has already joined the group of heroines I like. From what I saw of the show, she's usually not wearing revealing clothes, has a cool attitude and kicks serious ass. However, after reading spoilers of what's ahead... despite me liking the Sun/Crichton thing - why does the heroine always have to hook up with a guy?


    Aeryn's a great character. They do a little bit of a role-reversal with Aeryn and John. She's been trained to repress emotion and he's very free with his. He falls in love faster and more vocally. In that way it's interesting and avoids cliches. We could probably debate whether she's a "butch" character... but I chose to think of her as a repressed character, not masculine. However, he's the center of the show -- so often the conflicts can only resolve when Crichton comes up with a daring plan. And, she constantly has to "learn" from him -- how to express herself, how to love.

    To me there's a definite need to have more female heroes who aren't there being sexy or that, on the other hand, are 'ugh' in sci-fi and fantasy. I'm not quite sure if the proportion of female heroins/female sci-fi&fantasy fans is the same. And even if it is, the number of heroins a female fan can relate to decreases a lot, since almost all of them are either portrayed by sexy, (not necessarily) big-boobed (the blond chick from the new version of Planet of the Apes comes to mind... what was she doing there anyway, besides being decorative and inflating her breasts? ?[face_plain]) acresses or by very butch-looking ones (Vasquez, from Aliens is a good example) which aren't not even by a longshot, representatives of the female fans in most cases.

    Planet of the Apes is a bad example. Like Mark Walberg has anything to offer but a nice chest either. :p
    But, I could supply another example that really ticked me off. (Action genre, not scifi) I don't know if any of you have seen the movie and read the book The Bourne Identity... but they changed the female lead from a successful intellectual equal of Jason Bourne to a trashy sexy imbecile (or at least a women of average intellect). I think that average action script writers, directors, and producers just feel its a waste of screen time to develop the female characters. Of course, they're stiffing almost all the characters of adequate development -- but particularly the female characters. I think its more an indication of the current trend to make action movies almost entirely devoid of anything but overblown action sequences more than anything else -- but that's another subject.

    There are a *lot* more average-looking male heroes than there are average-looking female heroins (proportionally speaking of course ).

    True. :( It would be nice. But, average looking women don't sell. I think, as long as they don't look too ridiculous (playboy bunnies in mini-skirts) I just pretend they're average janes.

  11. Mara Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 1999
    star 4
    Planet of the Apes is a bad example. Like Mark Walberg has anything to offer but a nice chest either. :p

    Point. :p But an example of how I relate very little to big-boobed blond chicks who inflate is the fact that in that movie, my favourite female character was Ari. And the movie would have had a much better ending if the guy just kissed her instead of kissing both her and the blond chick who's name I can't even remember. ;)
  12. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    Y: The Last Man has some good heroines in it. Agent 355 is tough in a standard asskicking way, Dr. Mann is kind of heroic in a passive kind of way, Hero's name is Hero, and Yorrik is kind of girly by times.
  13. DarthArsenal6 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2001
    star 5
    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.


    Thats Absulutly true, yet I don't take that its an excuse for not having a female leader thats all.
    Its not as if people gonna burn the sets or something
    This was the Sixties where we had Girls beating up Men.
    I mean there was once a Black lady that won an Oscor in 1930's people were not Out raged.

    Its just some Righty didn't want a burden on his hands like all strip joints replace by Chip'n' Dales or taking orders from his WIFE ! :rolleyes:



    PS ALthough I'm against Strip Joints I'm also against Chip 'n' Dales, any women that goes into thes clubs just to get the thrill to see a man taking of his clothes should be a shamed on the same level as a man going to a strip joint.
  14. Undomiel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2002
    star 4
    Ah yes, Aeryn Sun. I do like her in FarScape. And Crichton was drool worthy. It wasn't his appearance as much as his style, the way he carried himself, his strength (not physical) and his sense of humor. But Aeryn was definitely a strong female character that didn't seem to rely purely on sexual magnetism. When her and Crichton finally got together, it was pretty amazing.
  15. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6

    I mean there was once a Black lady that won an Oscor in 1930's people were not Out raged.


    Interesting memory you have. [face_mischief]

    I suggest doing more research. F.
  16. BauconBatista Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 24, 2004
    star 4
    This one is yet to be transformed into a big-screen star, but warrants a mention anyway:

    Samus Aran from the excellent Metroid series(And a rumored movie which I hope never happens). Quite possibly one of THE greatest heroines ever. To hell with the Fetts--she's a one-person Death Star machine(In the side of good, of course) with a subtle human edge(Specifically the baby Metroid). And she's hot too(Especially in the Fusion pictures).
  17. Undomiel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2002
    star 4
    I know for alot of people, Dana Scully from the X-Files, was a very interesting character, primarily because she was smart, cynical and had a savvy edge to her. She wasn't kickin' tush and asking questions later, but she was a believeable heroine. That's at least one of the reasons the show was a success. Another reason, of course, was Fox Mulder. :D

  18. Jara_Dax Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 6, 2004
    star 1
    Haven't had the time to read everything (my excuses if I repeat something) but there are some very strong female characters out there in the Scifi/Fantasy world.

    The post mentioned Ripley and rightly so because you just can't go around her. She hardly is the only one, though.

    Star Trek has come up with some very strong female characters, while perhaps not as strong in TNG, DS9 and VOY make up for it. We have Jadzia Dax, Kira Nerys, B'Elanna Torres and Janeway who can all kick someone's ass without much of a sweat.

    Stargate has Samantha Carter who might be a scientist but can stand her own in action (and how). Personally, she's one of my favourites in scifi. She is smart, pretty and damn good at her job.

    I haven't seen the series but apparently you don't mess with Aeryn from Farscape either.

    I'm not much of a fantasy fan but Eowyn? Didn't she kill the Witch King that no man could kill? She is a great character who has to go against a man dominate world and has to disguise herself to take part in the battle. Which is exactly the explanation why at first glance most hero's seem to be male.

    As much as we have advanced through history, fact remains that our society is male dominated. You just can't chance so much history within a few decades. It says enough that you clearly see the term hero specifically within a military context. While Western society doesn't face war on a day to day base, the archetypical figure of the war hero remains dominant. Movies, television and books mostly revolve around violence and war(Star Wars is just one more example of that) and our history has tied those two to man. Maybe in a few millenia that will change.
  19. Undomiel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2002
    star 4
    Jara Dax,

    I adore Stargate. What an awesome show. Samantha is great. My favorite character on the show, however, has to be Daniel.
  20. CodeName_Targeter Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2003
    star 5
    Hmm, now out of curiosity, are we just talking movies or are books included too? Because if anyone else has ever read stuff by Tamora Pierce, she has some majorly kick-arse females heroines such as Alanna, Daine, Kel, and Aly.

    :Targeter:
  21. Lt_Jaina_Solo Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 5
    If you want a female heroine you should read David Weber's serie Honor Harrington. Honor is a captain on a ship in the Mandalorian Space Navy, and she can kick any man's ass. Both in space and on a duelling field.

    David Weber is a fantastic (sci-fi) author. I'd definitely recommend him to anyone. And his series on Honor Harrington is great.

    Anyways, on to the main point of the discussion. Someone mentioned that alot of target audiences for these movies are the young adult males. While perhaps times have changed, that doesn't necessarily mean that production companies have.

    However, to address that point in a different way, there has been a recent influx in the number of movies with female heroines (with bigger roles than just sitting around in some pretty, skin-tight clothes). Of course, some of them weren't that great, but it is showing a changing trend...

    And I completely lost what I was going to say :confused: More later...

    ~LtJS @};-

    EDIT: Still don't remember what I was going to say, but...

    Hmm, now out of curiosity, are we just talking movies or are books included too? Because if anyone else has ever read stuff by Tamora Pierce, she has some majorly kick-arse females heroines such as Alanna, Daine, Kel, and Aly.
    I love Tamora Pierce! :D I'm actually going to be meeting her soon :) And I'm finally reading Trickster's Queen (well, after I reread Trickster's Choice so I can remember what happened... :p )

    EDIT2: Maybe I should actually read what people post before me, rather than just skimming...

    Eowyn is an excellent example of a strong female character (who, as someone pointed out, killed the Witch King). TV shows like Buffy, etc. are portraying women in a positive manner as heroines. I suppose you could say that we're gradually making the transition for male dominated action movies to a more equal mix.

  22. Angela_Russell Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 6, 2004
    star 4
    Undomial I love Daniel too he is my fave so is Jonas I have two #1 faves!!!

    My faves are Sydney Bristow, Princess Leia, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, Buffy, Gabrielle from Xena, Eowyn and Dana Scully because they seem like real characters and they are tough and pretty. But the movies did not do my fave video-game heroines Lara Croft and Jill Valentine any justice!

    Xena was good but then they turned her into a lesbian which became the focal point of the show. Padme and Arwen are not very good.

    Ciao!
  23. Well_Of_Souls Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 2001
    star 5
    Someone mentioned that alot of target audiences for these movies are the young adult males.

    I think another part of the problem is that the film industry is incredibly male-dominated, so the fact that most heroines in science fiction (and most other major genres) are highly sexualized is probably a direct result of that.
  24. CodeName_Targeter Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2003
    star 5
    Ooo, you're so lucky LtJS!! Yeah, I had to reread TC before TQ, I totally forgot what had happened. ;)

    But yes, I do think that there is starting to be a more equal balance in all this, though i highly doubt it will ever be compltely equal.


    :Targeter:
    !Love my Boston Red Sox!
  25. Lt_Jaina_Solo Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 5
    Targeter- Second time's the charm in terms of meeting her :p

    Some other good authors who have strong heroines are Kristen Britain (Green Rider and First Rider's Call), Trudi Canavan (The Magician's Guild series- finally out in the United States!), and Sharon Shinn (at least the book that I read- Summers at Castle Auburn). And of course, David Weber, Tamora Pierce...

    Yeah...there's my recommend list for now. Anyone else know some good authors/books?

    ~LtJS @};-

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