Deborah Jackson

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In search of strong female characters!

Two weeks ago, I went to see Transformers 3. After the prologue, I quickly became disillusioned as the camera zoomed in on the long bare legs and nearly-bare bum of the "lead" female in the story. Oh no, I thought. Not another bimbo. And I was right.

As the story progressed, the lines she was given were lame, she never wore more than half a dress, except when she was sliding through a collapsing building—then they allowed her to wear pants—and she had to run through the entire movie in six-inch heels. Of course, she needed to be rescued. And the only significant role she played was trying to talk Megatron into attacking Spock. (I know he has another name, but I could only think of him as Spock throughout the entire movie.) By that time, even that scene was unbelievable, since I couldn't regard her as anything but eye candy for the males in the theatre. Funny, even my husband wasn't impressed. He's starting to believe that character, and not simply action, makes the story too.

The next week I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Deux. What a contrast! Here we have Hermione coming up with a solution to escape near-death and saving her two best friends in Gringotts, by jumping on and freeing a ferocious dragon. Go girl! Throughout the entire series, Hermione, more than anyone else seemed to come up with solutions and muddle through whatever dangerous and complex situation they encountered. Brilliant and brave.

It was interesting, but it took other people to point out how courageous and strong my own Sarah is in Time Meddlers. Terrified at times, but possessing an inner strength and conviction that pulls her through lethal environments and unfriendly encounters with historical figures in the midst of wars. I began writing Mars Maze, and this suddenly emerged, something I hadn't even realized.

"Sarah," said Matt. "After all we've been through, do you think I would have let you get hurt?"

Sarah pondered his remark, thinking of all the crazy places he'd dragged her to and the even crazier situations, dinosaurs being the least of their near-death experiences. But then she thought of all the times he'd saved her. Hmm. There was the time they were ejected into the river in a canoe while being assailed by arrows. No, that was her saving him. Well, there was the time that Nazis nearly discovered them in a wagon and they were distracted by an uproar of farm animals. Yeah, her again. There was the time that Albertasauras nearly took . . . Matt's head off . . . and she dove on top of him. Okay, what about the time he pushed her out of the way of gunfire? Yeah, that was Matt saving her. Hmm. Was there only one?

Only one. Matt was not the greatest hero in my story, Sarah was. Women are not stupid bimbos placed in a story merely for a man's enjoyment, and it degrades women every time this is done. Every time a music star thinks she has to strip to sell her music. Women have talent, intelligence and sparkling wit. We can sometimes dig that tree out of the back yard when our husbands can't, or won't anyway. We can climb mountains, swim oceans (maybe lakes) and man space shuttles. We love men, but we don't need men to love us. We can do just about any . . .

Sorry, I have to leave. I feel a Helen Reddy song coming on.

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