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Favorite Female Characters



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Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:55 am
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BluesClues says...



"Strong female characters" are on my mind a lot lately, partly because I've seen so many articles and blogs about them but mostly because I'm terrible at writing female characters. Which is particularly terrible because I am a female. And even more particularly terrible because I have grown up surrounded by strong females.

But I appreciate a well-written woman, or a real-life woman whom I can look up to. Since strong female characters--or, at least, good female characters--are going to be the topic of my Squills column for the next few weeks, I want to know:

Who are your favorite female characters, in fiction or real-life? Why do you admire them? Give me a name, what she's known from, and why you like her!

Here are just a few of mine:

In fiction:

Miss Piggy of the Muppets
She knows how to take care of herself. She knows what she wants (Kermit). She knows karate. Basically she's a boss who can kick your butt and look fabulous in the latest fashions while doing it. Best moments: the Muppets version of "The Three Little Pigs" (in "Muppet Classic Theater") and the moment in "Muppets: Most Wanted" when she figures out which frog is the real Kermit.

Rosaura, the Minecraft-based narrative series "Seedlings"
First of all, if you haven't watched this yet, DO IT. It's fantastic, and the webisodes are only like ten minutes long, and the music is awesome, and it's FUNNY and AMAZING and you just need to GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW.

Ahem. Sorry.

Anyway, Rosaura is one of our three leads. She's a normal girl--a little bit sassy, more down-to-earth than her boys, and up for compliments and an adventure or two. But she's great at making potions, which has served Our Heroes well on more than one occasion, and it's important to note that, thus far, there has not been a single hint of a love interest for her.

At least, not a male love interest...

Scarlett O'Hara, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
There are a lot of things not to love about Scarlett, and tbh I'd probably dislike her if I met her in real life. She's two-faced and manipulative. And putting her in the "strong fmc" category is almost debatable, since Rhett sexually dominates her at one point (which is when she starts feelings in awe of him/blushing at the thought of him/wanting to see him), after she's spent the entire book mooning over Ashley Wilkes (whom, let's face it, she doesn't really want anyway).

But I will say this: I admire Scarlett because she's not afraid to do what she feels needs to be done. In this life, I am the Ashley Wilkes of the world, too afraid to face reality, while Scarlett grabs life by the horns and wrestles it to the ground in a time when young women are expected to look pretty and tell men how wonderful they are. There are a lot of things to take with a grain of salt (or outright disbelief or dislike) in this book (such as the supposed "happiness" of all the slaves to be in the positions they're in). And Scarlett herself does a lot of things I don't agree with and has a lot of negative qualities--but her grit is not one of them.

In real life:

Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani feminist and activist for women's education and p.s. she is only SIXTEEN holy frick
Absolutely everything you need to know about this precious baby who is younger than me and yet possibly the person in the world I most look up to is that she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out in favor of education and women's rights, she miraculously survived, and then later she came on the Daily Show and said this:

I used to think that a Talib would come and he would just kill me. Then I said, if he comes, what would you do, Malala? Then I would tell myself, Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.

But then I said, if you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others that much with cruelty, that much harshly. You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education. Then I said, I would tell him how important education is, and then, I even want education for your children as well. And I would tell him, that is what I want to tell you. Now do what you want.


There's way more to love about her, but basically if she's not one of your favorite people ever after that, then go back and re-read it until she is.

my mom
I know this seems cliched and corny, but my mom is awesome, okay. And I read a blog once that made me really mad because it basically said that women who become mothers are lame and never accomplish anything and have to give up all of their goals and never do anything.

Um, excuse you, but my mother is amazing. Also, are you really that ungrateful to your own mother that you think raising you was not an accomplishment? My goodness.

ANYWAY, while it's true that my mother married young and did not go to work for the FBI like she originally planned (p.s. this is true and I just found it out when we visited on the way back from our honeymoon), she did finish her Bachelor's in criminal justice. Then she raised three kids, held several different jobs, grew her own vegetables, dug post-holes and built fences and stacked hay when we had a few acres and some livestock, held a household together and kept her head even when money got tight and they had to move because Dad finally got laid off...and then went back to school for a law degree, passed the bar exam, and now has a job working for a nonprofit in the D.C area.

Moms can be strong women, okay? Like, the strongest.

And this is why it's really stupid that I have trouble writing strong female characters but probably it's because I am not one.
  





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Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:34 am
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Holysocks says...



Cool topic! I'm terrible at writing strong/good female characters as well ( maybe it's a woman thing )! Though I know some very strong women.

I'm going to start off with:

My Grandma ( hey, you're the one that brought family into this )

My grandma is arguably the strongest woman on the planet- try universe. Why is she so freakin' awesome? Well let me see...
She was in WW2 I believe. Her uncle ( or grandfather ) and father got taken away in the war, never to be seen again. Her, and her mother and sisters nearly starved to death, but her mom sold her sewing machine ( she was a seamstress ) and bought a whole pile of pumpkins you they wouldn't die over winter. I don't know about you, but pumpkins all winter seems like a pretty darn good character builder- and boy, was my grandmother a character. ( that's not even a quarter of her amazing story, by the way. But I'm going to skip to her last years ) Her sense of humour stayed with her literally TO THE END.

She was hospitalised by a stroke three years ago, and was recovering well, with her humour intact ( she's a fighter if I've EVER seen one ). Than she had another stroke, and another. But believe it or not, she lived until last January... and even then I was wondering if anything could kill her.

Anyway, that doesn't even do her justice.


Poppy ( Jessica Day George's character from her retellings ):

Poppy is a determined, strong willed and minded, princes who's just a easy character to read about. She's just down to earth, and believably brave. That's all I have to say. :-P
I hope it's a good joke because otherwise I'll have got it for nothing...

WARNING: Do not take grammar advice from me... EVER.
  





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Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:25 am
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BellaRoma says...



In fiction my favourite female character is probably Hermione Granger. Hermione is one of the greatest witches of her age, there isn't a spell she can't do (as Hagrid says). Also I am so like her personality-wise it's kind of scary.
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Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:05 pm
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BluesClues says...



If my list had been longer, I would have included Hermione :) Once she loosens up after being attacked by that troll, she's the best--really smart, obviously a hard worker, a loyal friend, brave, she's got a strong moral compass but she's also not afraid to do what needs to be done.

Not to mention the fact that she's really good at giving dating advice and also is a house-elves' rights activist (which admittedly gets a little annoying at times, but still). And also the fact that she saves the guys' butts at least once every school year (if not several times).
  





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Thu Jun 26, 2014 2:33 pm
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Sherri says...



If I had to choose a favorite strong female character from fiction... I'd go with Hera from Elei's Chronicles. In the series, she's fighting a parasite inside of her that has begun taking over her mind. The parasite makes her believe in the Gultur's cause (the Gultur are an all-female race that believe they are above humans) even though she knows everything they do is wrong. It's also making her want to kill humans (namely Elei, who is the host to Her's opposing parasite; I think Elei's parasite was called Rex), but most of her friends are humans... anyways, I think she's fifteen for most of the story.
Now if we had to go into real life, I'd choose my mom, even if we don't get along all the time. She's a pretty strong sometimes too strongcharacter herself, even though I know the constant burden of being a mom is stressful. :D
* Hey, just in case this pit isn't actually bottomless, do you think maybe you could unstrap one of those long-fall boots of yours and shove me into it? Just remember to land on one foot... *
I love GLaDOS...
  





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BellaRoma says...



Temperance Brennan is also a strong fictional woman. No-one but Kathy Reichs can get away with that much scientific jargon. It's part of Tempe's character and Tempe is the best at what she does (forensic anthropology for those of you who don't know 'Bones'). I've never come across another novel with the description layed out that way but I found it unputdownable anyway because it suited the character.
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Cole says...



Who are your favorite female characters, in fiction or real-life? Why do you admire them? Give me a name, what she's known from, and why you like her!


Women in Fiction-

Charlotte Doyle in Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle:

Taking place in the 19th century, Charlotte is a thirteen-year-old girl on a ship from Europe (where she attended school) to the United States to reunite with her family. However, she soon finds herself caught between a violent conflict between the abused crew and the cruel Captain Jaggery. At first she is very concerned about her appearance, about being proper and refined, but soon falls in love with the sea, forges powerful friendships, cuts her hair, exchanges her dresses for men's clothes, and becomes one of the crew.

Jane Eyre in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre:

I love Jane for her complexity, her boldness, her fierce devotion to those she loves, and her spiritual intensity. She is humble, plain, honest, and absolutely captivating. I will argue that she is the best female character ever written.

Eve from Elissa Elliott's Eve: The Story of the First Woman:

This novel follows Eve and her three daughters: Aya, Naava, and Dara. It explores Eve's wonderment when she is first created, her horror when she and Adam are expelled from Eden, her sexuality, her childbearing, her fear of the "strangers" in the land who worship gods other than Elohim (Yahweh), and her despair when Cain slays Abel. This novel is such a powerful investigation of womanhood and motherhood that is has made me much more appreciative of the women in my own life.

Kira from Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue:

Kira is a talented, crippled teen seamstress who lives in a barbaric society that leaves the lame, sick, handicapped and elderly to die. She is ambitious and, despite great opposition, manages to rise above her weaknesses.

Beatrice from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy:

Beatrice is Dante's muse, divine guardian, patron saint, and tutor. Despite the era the Comedy was written in, Beatrice defies common stereotypes of women and proves to be one of the most fearless, powerful figures in the three afterlives.

Lucie Manette in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities:

In spite of the fact that she has a few fainting fits (cliché, I know), Lucie proves to be one of the most resilient characters amid the hell that is the French Revolution. She is selfless, brave, is willing to do whatever is takes to keep her loved ones safe, and is the tie that binds all of the characters together.

Women in Real Life (besides women I personally know)-

Saint Jehanne d'Arc (Saint Joan of Arc): She defied society's expectations for women, commanded an army when she was only seventeen, wore men's clothes and armor, lifted the English siege of one of France's major cities (Orleans), crowned a new king of France, survived a great portion of the dangers of war (including being struck with arrows in the shoulder and thigh, English assassins, falling off of a tower, etc.), had a profound connection with God, and stoically faced being burned at the stake as a witch. She is one of my heroes.
  





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Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:49 am
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BluesClues says...



I will have to read The Story of the First Woman, that sounds fascinating.

Also, I feel like I've read something similar to The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, but I don't think it was actually that book. Something about a woman who was on a ship for some reason as a girl and later became a famous ship's captain, or maybe a pirate...but she was Irish, anyway, and the only scene I remember in any detail was near the end of the book, when she was older, she met the Queen of England for whatever reason (was she arrested? I DON'T REMEMBER) and the Queen offered her a handkerchief to blow her nose or something and the royal court was scandalized because afterward she threw the handkerchief into the fire, but she was like..."it's more hygienic, you English dogs."

(Well, she was more polite than that, but I'm pretty sure that's what she was thinking.)
  





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Lefty says...



June Iparis from Legend by Marie Lu. Obviously fictional...

She's a fifteen-year-old military prodigy who is just awesome and brilliant and selfless. She has feelings but is strong and can kick butt. She's lost her family but fights for what she believes is right. I guess I admire her and am personally obsessed with this series. Sorry, I know that's not very informative, but you should read it. It's an amazing series.
Hear me out, there's so much more to life than what you're feeling now. Someday you'll look back on all these days, and all this pain is gonna be invisible. - Hunter Hayes
  





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Elinor says...



Fiction - Belle, Beauty and the Beast.

Need I say more? She's strong, brave, selfless and overall, a complex and inspiring role model. Plus she loves books.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney
  





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BluesClues says...



@Elinor%20Brynn Not to mention the fact that she repeatedly staves off creepy advances from the town's most beautiful and popular man because she is just not interested, and also because he's a boorish oaf.
  





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BluesClues says...



Ruth Jamison from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. She couldn't say boo to a goose, she teaches Sunday school, and she doesn't raise her voice, but she leaves an abusive husband in a time period when people did NOT get divorced and won't put up with Idgie's crap even though the girls love each other. She's a good person who takes care of people who need it and does things that need doing, she's courageous, and she's uncomplaining in the face of pain and horrible circumstances.

Sipsey, from the same. She's (understandably) frightened by the KKK (despite a denial of such) and cooks in the town's cafe, but she will do *anything* to protect the people she loves and can really pack a punch...with a cast-iron skillet. She adopts and raises Big George as her own, without any man in her life or any need for one, and no matter how old he gets she's not afraid to give him what-for if he needs it--same for her later grandchildren, though she loves them and they adore her.

Ninny Threadgoode, from the same. She's a sweet little old lady who isn't the brightest crayon in the box (at least, she's quite gullible), but she's happy with life, has no regrets, accepts death as a natural part of life, and wise enough to teach the MC, Evelyn, the things she needs to stop being afraid and start living.
  





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sisterLuck says...



Have you ever seen the show Orphan Black? It is full of well-written, diverse female characters and I love the crap out of that show.

Sarah Manning is an orphan grifter, who returns to the states to reunite with her young daughter. Being a good mom, finally, is her top priority, but she's strong, street-smart and brave, a natural chameleon. She starts off the series totally absorbed in her own life, but grows throughout the series to care about her 'family' she discovers along the way, so much so that she'll sacrifice a lot for them.

Cosima Niehaus is a graduate student, a scientist, and my favorite character. She's a genius, but she's totally fascinated by the world and a little naive at times. Her total interest in how the world works and finding the science in everything is so well done- she's not jaded like Sarah. She's driven and adaptable, and there's so many interesting facets to her personality.

There's a lot more, but I'm short on time... but if you're looking for excellent female characters, Orphan Black is the way to go. Though Cosima is my favorite, I love all of the women on that show.
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Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:36 pm
BluesClues says...



I've definitely heard good things about that show and the characters in it, but I have yet to watch it.
  





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StellaThomas says...



Orphan Black is fabulous, although my favourite clone is definitely Alison - a soccer mom whose priorities lie in the world of suburbia but will do anything to protect her children and in the end has an enormous heart. I love her because she's so unconventional as a character - all the others have precedents, but Alison is so unusual in a show of her genre, and she gets complex storylines and character development instead of just being comic relief. <3

Okay but she's not my favourite character of all time. Let's take a look at some of those:

Enna from Enna Burning by Shannon Hale: Enna's gotta be Number One. Over the course of the book, Enna learns to control the element of fire, but pretty soon, the fire is controlling her. Enna has a short temper and sharp tongue, she gets into fights easily and she can often scare people away. But she's also fiercely loyal to her friends - and they are fiercely loyal to her. The book is a sequel, in the original she keeps her best friend's secret despite it being life-risking to do so. In this book (minor spoilers), there's one scene where the friend sneaks into an enemy camp and makes huge personal sacrifices just to reassure Enna and let her remember that people love her. Enna makes mistakes - she gets seduced, first by the fire and then by a very persuasive man, she goes down the wrong path, she needs rescuing from herself... and in future books, the trauma she's gone through is recognised and dealt with. Enna is far from perfect, and the way she breaks promises and makes mistakes is so natural and human, and despite all the wrong she does she is still a warm, lovable person. So many layers. She's amazing.

Emma, from Emma by Jane Austen: Variants on a theme with the name, and title, and character xD Emma is probably even more complex, she's been born with everything a girl could want and what I love is how she's happy with her life as it is, this isn't some personal journey to a happy ending. The whole plot of Emma might never have happened and Emma would still be happy. But it does happen. Emma's beautiful, clever and rich and she knows it. But she's also very kind - she is her ailing father's only joy, and she is sacrificing her own future to make sure he's comfortable. And all her matchmaking- some comes from conceit, of course, and the arrogance that she knows what's best - but most comes from a desire to see others be happy. Emma's growth - realising that she is not, in fact, perfect, realising that she cannot be self-sufficient, realising that she doesn't always know best - is a great thing. But even without that growth, she's glorious. She knows who she is and she's proud and she's not afraid to let it show. I think that's admirable.

Lavender Brown: Oh how obscure of you Stella. But I always felt for Lavender Brown. She was a fickle, silly teenage girl, but who wasn't? I loved JKR for not making her out to be an awful person, just because she liked Divination and rabbits. She cries when Binky dies, and when Trelawney is sacked, she and Parvati go and take her flowers and comfort her. Lavender's a Gryffindor, so she must be brave, and she joins Dumbledore's Army, she fights in Seventh Year, and in the Battle of Hogwarts she risks her life - the movie says she dies but I really hope she doesn't - fighting Fenrir Greyback. The only wrong she ever did the Trio, really, was date Ron. And good for her, going after what she wanted, because Hermione refused to make her move (and after all that animosity, Hermione still does her best to save Lavender from Fenrir). Plus, Lavender's best friend is Parvati Patil, and female friendship is a thing that is very important to me and it makes me very happy how strong their friendship is.

In real life, Queen Elizabeth II. The Pope, the King of Spain and the Queen of Holland all recently abdicated because they were getting too old. The Queen is staying strong. She's seen a lot of crap as the Queen of England, over the years. She's been doing this job a long time, and she's still doing it. She is very eloquent, not to mention elegant, and I just think she's great.
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