I was writing up my list for next weeks Top Ten Tuesday which we are to list our favorite kickass heroines and I started to have a little bit of a bookish existential crisis by the time I finished. I mean, I came up with the topic for TTT and all but I guess I didn’t realize how incredibly hard it would be for me once I started pen to paper…err fingers to keyboard (but that doesn’t sounds as cool).
I think initially when you think of kickass heroines you tend to think of the literal variety– the ones from fantasy and paranormal novels that go to battle, give an ass kicking to some baddie, is cunning and courageous. We see a lot of those types in movies and tvs. They compete with the boys in terms of being able to render an ass kicking or taking baddies down; they would die fighting for what they feel is right. Most of the time they fight for what’s right whether it be because of ideals or morals or out of love for family, friend or lover. I don’t read a ton of those types of novels (though I’ve been working on it this past year or two!) but I did come up with a few for my post.
But then I kept thinking about really amazing characters that maybe physically weren’t “kick-ass” in terms of maybe they didn’t go head to head with a baddie, fight off 16 strong men or save someone they loved but the ones who had such strength or courage in the way they lived their lives. What about the characters who fought against a disease and every day was a battle? What about the characters who knew who they were and went against the norms and were ostracized for it? What about the characters who experienced a devastating loss and despite the weighty pain of every day or every memory moved forward with great strength? What about the characters who experienced a rape and fought every day to heal and use their strength not to let being a rape victim define who they were and speak out? I think they are every bit as kick ass!
And then I thought about my musing in the early days of my blog about classic vs. modern heroines.
I think that the classic heroine and the modern heroine are different in some respect. I think the classic heroine wasn’t always facing some big evil entity but sometimes it could have been some weakness, like hubris, that they overcame or societal struggles. This isn’t saying that they didn’t face danger but I feel like this model is seen frequently in modern novels–in fantasy in particular. I think that Elizabeth (Pride & Prejudice) and Jo March are different types of characters than Katniss or Lisbeth Sanders but I think that they all display the same sort of characteristics–self sacrifice, intelligence, confidence, a will of their own, the desire for what is right, honor, etc. I think the modern heroine evolved from the classic heroine and may have the same basic characteristics but I do find them to be different.
Needless to say, I’m having a hard time putting in my mind what I deem to be a “kick-ass heroine”. I know they have a lot of the qualities and elements that I discussed above — despite their flaws. I don’t think they to have all of those qualities and characteristics but they have one or two of them and they show themselves in different ways. I think the thing that is really hard for me is sometimes when I’ll think that a character is a great heroine and I’ll read other people talk about how absolutely weak they are. It’s hard for me to reconcile sometimes. Maybe we have differing opinions of weakness and strength or how much of that a character’s weakness makes them actually weak or is something they can overcome. I don’t know.
So this post doesn’t really accomplish anything. I just felt so confused and needed to ramble and ask what all you wise readers thinks! So tell me, what do you think makes a kick-ass heroine? Any examples? Any other thoughts on the heroine front in general? Let me know what you think! I’m dying to have some sort of discussion to further think about this topic!