Here come the girls

Put some lady love in your Film & TV viewing.

Sweden earned a place in my heart the moment I set eyes on Alexander Skarsgard and his dad Stellan (I have a thing for old men). Having already won over my hormones, the Swedes earned my respect when cinemas across the country announced the introduction of a sexism rating on all releases. Hollywood producers seem to think that female characters must be one of two extremes: the whiney damsel in distress, or the equally one dimensional “heroine” who wields a sword but doesn’t do much else. Inspired by Sweden, we count down some of the kick ass ladies who show just how compelling female characters can be.

1) Ellen Ripley (Alien): Ripley is my idol. She captains a spaceship while under siege from an alien which has just burst out of her colleague’s chest, without faltering. I don’t know about you, but if I was in her place I might have needed a moment to wipe the blood off before I took control of a massive hunk of space machinery. The thing I appreciate most about Ripley is that none of her fellow characters make a big deal out of her being a woman. She’s a survivor and a hero regardless of her gender.

2) Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones): Unlike Ripley, Dany (yeah, we’re bffs) can’t go anywhere without people pointing out she’s a woman. After the death of (SPOILERS) her husband, she takes over his warrior tribe. She is the first woman to lead them as queen, and she does a damn good job. Dany is reminiscent of Elizabeth I, riding in to battle with her men and giving rousing speeches which could put Obama to shame. Rather than comprimising her femininity to impress men, she makes the men accept her for who she is. If that’s not feminism, I don’t know what is.

3) Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): The inspiration behind Buffy’s creation summarises her appeal: a sweet blonde girl is followed down a dark alley by a monster. Suddenly she turns around and kicks the monster’s ass. It’s postmodern, get it? Buffy goes from cheerleader to saviour of the world at 16, so she knows how to handle herself. More importantly, she isn’t perfect. She has terrible relationships and sacrifices her happiness in favour of that whole stopping-the-apocalypse thing. Women who are untouchable in their strength are just as unrealistic as the damsels: female characters are allowed to have weaknesses, and Buffy exemplifies that point.

4) Princess Merida (Brave): It’s argued that Disney princesses present an image to girls that the ideal woman should be stick thin, beautiful and dependent on a prince charming to save her. Merida is the first princess to shun the love interest. She refuses to engage in an arranged marriage or give up her tomboy pursuits to be “perfect.” There’s nothing wrong with marriage, or being feminine, but Merida’s happy ending is not dependent on a man. She creates her own happy ending through sheer determination. After more than 70 years of sweet but submissive princesses, Merida’s independence is kind of a big deal.


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