When I was in Smallville fandom, back in 2001-2002 I used to hang out with some fellow fangirls in an AIM chatroom. We were all slashers, and all pretty open minded about slash pairings, including incestuous slash (Lex/Lionel). However we disagreed very strongly about the character Lana, to the point where we had to stop even trying to discuss her. The general consensus was that Chloe was everything that is awesome (and if anyone disagreed, they didn't dare say so), but Lana was continuously bashed.( I think there were several reasons for this )
I wanted to look beyond the poor writing and uninspiring acting, suspend my disbelief and just go with who Lana supposedly was, taking it as a challenge to flesh her out, since she was a key figure in Clark's life, and I needed to make her worthy of his love in order to respect Clark
, rather than out of any feminist desire to have a realistic girl on TV, but I gave up when my attempts were met with indifference or even rabid fury by other fans. I left Smallville fandom shortly after, and since then I haven't bothered rolling that particular boulder up the hill.
A lot of the women others have mentioned in their celebration of female characters are more or less of the same type as Lana. Their onscreen lives revolve around male characters, they're there to comment on male characters; to be sexual opportunities or challenges for male characters; to show that male characters are so wonderful that they can hang out with women, often two-fers; to be damsels in distress; to be mother-figures; to be the loving child figures without the tension of the expected power-struggle between sons and fathers (because girls never grow into women, at least not until they reach menopause or if they're ugly); they're there to unsettle male characters, lead them into temptation and attack them with their foul sexuality, etc. etc.
Often someone will say to me, isn't so-and-so a kick-ass
heroine? I'll probably politely and not very convincingly agree, all the while going "meh" on the inside and feeling disgruntled. I don't want to have to do the leg work on fleshing out those characters! I'm done with that, and I'm done with being satisfied with substandard writing like that. I will not be silenced by a sop like an idealized, beautiful, smart, courageous, bantering kick-ass lust-object for fanboys
like the hateful Lady Christina de Souza in Doctor Who. "But, but... she kicks ass?!" All the more to be a good trophy for the Doctor when she begs to accompany him, my friend.
The female characters I'm going to celebrate use their powers of awesomeness for their own good
, rather than for the good of a male characters. They are the heroes of their own lives, not the supporting characters in some dude's life. I don't care how smoking hot Zoë Washburne is (very
in case you're wondering), she is not the kind of character I want more of. I say that as a bitterly disappointed fangirl who was thrilled about Zoë after watching one episode of Firefly, only to realize the evil bait and switch Joss was playing on female Buffy fans.Mehitabel Parr
One of three main characters in Sarah Monette's books Melusine, The Virtu and The Mirador. I came for the delicious slashiness, I stayed for the humor, suspense, and vivid characters and settings. The books are narrated from each of the main characters' POV, with very strong and individual voices. They overlap often, leading to interestingly contrasting views of the same events, but each character has their own life and subplot. Mehitabel grew up in a traveling circus, but ran away from home to become a classical actress in a respectable theater. She's good at her job, interested in other people, and in many ways just an ordinary single woman struggling to make ends meet in a stressful world and maybe find some happiness along the way. Because she's one of the main characters in a fantasy novel, of course she has to deal with a lot of challenges along the way, and she proves to be vulnerable, but with an unbendable spirit; unfair and kind of distant to her friends sometimes, but loyal and good when it comes down to it; funny, but kind of mean... she's totally awesome. She has believable flaws, and is no superhero, and when she triumphs or gets in a good zinger, it's impossible not to cheer for her.Cordelia Naismith
The main character in Lois McMaster Bujold's books Shards of Honor and Barrayar, and an important supporting character in the rest of the Vorkosigan saga. Shards of Honor reads like slash. Cordelia is the captain of a survey ship who crashes on a planet where the only other person is a fearsome warrior from a paternalistic, very traditional culture that has recently been at war with Cordelia's people. In Cordelia's culture, sex and gender are a matter of personal preference, and many different sexual and gender orientations are recognized and celebrated. She happens to be female and a woman, but mainly identifies as a scientist and the leader of her crew in this context, but she is aware that gender roles are rigidly defined by society, not individual preference in Aral Vorkosigan's culture. Now the bookish geek must win the respect of and form an alliance with the aggressive and very physical warrior in order for both of them to survive. It's the perfect union of action adventure and a respect -> like -> love story free of icky gender roles.To be continued