Most of us have at least heard of the term "strong female character." Whenever the director of the latest action flick says their token girl is a "strong female character," or the author of a thriller swears up and down that his work isn't sexist because he's got a lot of "strong female characters" in it, it sets most of the audience at ease. We picture an attractive woman, probably in some sort of tight-fitted outfit, armed to the teeth with gadgets and weapons suitable to whatever setting she's in.
But there's a problem with the strong female character.
Okay, a lot of problems. We're going to go into them in detail.
The biggest issue is that they're a cookie-cutter token that's usually sexualized and designed for the cis male audience rather than the women she supposedly represents.
What is the "Strong Female Character"?
Strong female characters--or SFCs--were originally designed to be the polar opposite of the damsel in distress archetype. By which I mean she's a female character who's very good at traditionally masculine skills: combat, computers, motor vehicles, etc.
Some stories do this very well. Google "strong female character" and the images that pop up are Princess Leia, Ellen Ripley, and Hermione Granger, all of them well-written, three-dimensional characters that are now culture icons.
But most stories flop.
The SFC has become a cinema cliche, a diversity item to cross off of a writer's list so they can claim their work is inclusive. But the SFC runs into a host of problems in most stories she appears in that undermines the writer's--often genuine--efforts to create an inspiring female character.
The Problems with the "Strong Female Character"
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!