Kick Ass Heroines: Love them or hate them?

I love a strong female protagonist, but they don’t have to be able to beat people up for them to be “kick ass” in my opinion.  As a matter of fact, I don’t want my heroine to be so much stronger than the hero that she physically saves him.  And I don’t want her so bad ass in her attitude that she isn’t relatable to me.

This is just me.  My preference.  I realize there are people who love women who can beat up anyone in the room, or can be the biggest threat around.

I’ve seen heroines that tip the scale so much in the direction of being bad ass that I had a hard time with the story.  Take Jessica Jones, the new Netflix original show, for example.  Her superpower is her strength.  I get that.  But, she is so emotionally draining in her bad attitude and alcoholism that I had such a hard time making myself like her.

No, I’m not being sexist.  I realize there are women out there who can beat up men, have a hard ass attitude and can do nearly anything a man can do.  I just don’t relate to them easily.  Not in stories at least.

Part of it is that I like to read stories in which I can see myself as the main character, or relate deeply with the main character.  As soon as a character does something I feel is cruel, unjust or irredeemable I can’t continue reading or watching because they become alien to me.  I want to connect with a character.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a strong female character.  I just don’t want her to be more masculine than the hero.  If she uses the F-bomb too often, I will likely stop reading.  If she shows no compassion, I will likely stop reading.  Everyone has their rules about stories they will accept or not accept.  I have my own as well.

There are authors out there who can write really good, strong female characters who can hold their own, but who are also compassionate, caring and human.  I like Eve in JD Robb’s In Death series.  I like Christine Feehan’s  Sisters of the Heart series.  These women are flawed, with fears and problems, but they overcome them to save those they love.  To me, THAT is courage.  That is being strong.

I was reading Christine Feehan’s Spider Game recently.  The woman is strong and dangerous.  She killed several teams of Ghostwalkers, but she was relatable because she knew she was too deadly to love.  She’d been experimented on and it left her venomous.  The author made you care about her as you saw how the character longed to have someone to love, a family.  She wanted to embrace the side of herself that was nurturing and caring, but she had a huge obstacle that got in the way.  She had a clear sense of justice, of right and wrong.  It didn’t bother me that she could fight like a man, because she still had qualities about herself that I could relate to.

I just want to say that there is nothing weak about being a woman or being womanly.  I don’t want to see women portrayed as simpletons, but a woman who takes pride in being a housewife and mother can be just as strong as a woman who does MMA fighting as a career.  She just has to be willing to do anything for the things she believes in and the people she loves.  To me, that makes a strong female character.

You may feel differently.  You may love women who are MMA fighters and cuss like sailors.  That’s okay.  But, I’d love to know what you think about what makes a female character strong in your eyes?   Is there such a thing as too kick ass?

About Sheila Clover English

International speaker, business woman, author, mother, wife and owner of seven dogs. I love people, am an advocate for animals and stay up too late at night reading books.
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3 Responses to Kick Ass Heroines: Love them or hate them?

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Sheila, great post! I do love strong heroines, but I wouldn’t like one who acted so badly either. Flaws are fine – we all have them, and it makes characters human – but I also want common sense and common compassion.

    A friend has a 4th or 4th degree black belt, and she’s one of the sweetest persons I know. She would make an amazing heroine in a book, just as she’s a heroine for her family and friends in real life. And one of the strongest woman I know wasn’t fighting villains, but fought cancer for many years. She’s my real-life heroine.

  2. I was thinking so much of Liz myself just the other day. She was kickass in every way that counted.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Dark Deeds Available for Pre-order

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