Saturday, September 24, 2011

An Increase in Entertainment's Women Who Kick Ass

Just as comic books began as a primarily male-dominated culture, so did the portrayal of these super-characters in television and movies. While yes, there were scattered programs, like our coveted Buffy the Vampire Slayer, until the past decade, there were far fewer opportunities for superwomen than supermen. In an Entertainment Weekly article about Comic-Con, Elizbeth Mitchell (star of Lost and V) discussed how the increasing output of the sci fi genre was opening up more opportunities for women in kick-ass roles. With shows like V, Lost, Fringe, as well as productions of Cat Woman, Bat Woman, Tomb Raider, Mitchell tells how women are gaining more of a place in the world of entertainment. Even in the younger generations with the new release of the Hunger Games movies (following their publication as books). The Hunger Games features a girl as the leader of a revolution in post-apocalyptic North America. Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist, is the sharpest shooter, and literally fights to the finish defeating 11 men in the process (and then does it all over again in books two and three). This was all while a boy was holding her hand and verbally rooting her on.
In the article, Mitchell talks about how in Fringe, there is a similar role reversal. The women is out doing the "tough stuff," while the male sits in the kitchen. One thing I did not receive overly well was when Mitchell said "Olivia was the man," referring to Anna Torv's leading character on Fringe. This sadly echoes the inherent nature in pop culture where kicking ass is a man's duty and when a woman is the tough one, she is not a tough woman, she is "the man." Though, admittedly there is the same stereotype in reverse, when people describe a man who works in the kitchen as "the woman."


  1. It's definitely a good thing that women are getting more screen time all across the board, but I still have to raise my eyebrow at the way many "super" women are STILL portrayed. They may kick ass, but they're also gorgeous, clad in leather (and/or skimpy outfits), and drip sex appeal. I actually like it more when girls appear (as opposed to fully grown women) in movies and shows, since they appear far more realistic. I like how you pointed out how the terms "the man" and "the woman" are often used in a very frustrating and even degrading manner. Who knows how long it'll take to get things finally moving...

  2. I like seeing more girl "kiss-ass" characters, it opens up so many more role models for young girls. I know personally, that when I watch one of these shows or read a book like The Hunger Games, I always picture myself aspiring to be as strong and tough as the main character in it. I find girl leads like that a lot easier to connect to than male characters like that, because they deal with many relatable problems on some level. Most girls in movies and television shows are sexed up so I don't mind it as much as long as it doesn't define them- they can still be just as tough of a character

  3. Even though some of these characters kick ass, like Katniss, they are always supported by a male character. It is so hard to find a strong woman supported by another strong woman. I really liked the Hunger Games, but by Mockingjay it seemed like Katniss was nothing without her boy toys.


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