Thursday, October 8, 2009

Let's hear it for Girl Heroes!

My sons love 'Tank Girl'. It's a great movie on so many levels, not the least of which is Tank Girl, herself.

When I was growing up, there weren't many role models for girls. I read Tom Sawyer and thoroughly enjoyed it but I didn't identify with Becky. I identified with Tom, because he was the one having all the fun. Now that every Dark Urban Fantasy has a smart-mouthed female heroine, who knows martial arts the feisty female has almost become a cliche.

They say boys won't identify with girl characters. After doing a quick poll in my house (boys aged 14,17,19 and 23), the answer was ... gender didn't matter, as long as the story was good. Mind you, my sons might not be a representative sample.

When I was a kid, I had a thing about Astro Boy. He was the thinking child's Robot hero because he stood up for the rights of robots. Who were your heroes, male or female, while you were growing up?


Anonymous said...

I think Doing Things is the key - most of my heroes were always getting into trouble, but it made them interesting.

Katy Carr, because she *did* things, with verve and imagination, even when the effects were embarrassing or worse and - when Katy settled down, her sister Clover for going West.

Laura Ingalls-Wilder, for creating a disturbance in class in defence of her sister, and scaring Almanzo's horses to distract him from romance.

Susan Pevensie, archer and queen and exile and only surviving Pevensie.

The Princess Eilonwy, for carting around swords larger than she was, not suffering fools gladly, Never Shutting Up and describing a predicament as like being up a tree with her toes tied together.

Maid Marion, for escaping to Sherwood in disguise and nearly picking a fight with Robin before they recognised each other, and generally being subversive.

TansyRR said...

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Trixie Belden as a child...

Then I got into comics and it was Black Canary, Power Girl, Fire, Zatanna, Maxima...

Alix and the other women from Jennifer Roberson's Cheysuli series, Alanna by Tamora Pierce, and Anita Blake were hot on their heels

But oh boy, Tank Girl was my teenage heroine from the movies, you bet.

Dion Hamill said...

Woohoo! So glad you mentioned comics Tansy, because tank girl is one of those movie adaptations of a comic done the right way.

TansyRR said...

Dion - I never really got into the Tank Girl comics but oh, the movie. Best soundtrack EVAH!

Flinthart said...

Let's see... Batman, check. Sherlock Holmes, check. Conan, yep, Elric, yep, Fafhrd and the Mouser - for sure. Robin Hood: definitely.

No girls on the list. Eh, well. What can I say? They were in short supply in the literature when I was a kid.

TansyRR said...

Batgirl, I forgot Batgirl! I first discovered her in the old TV series and something went 'click'. Probably because she reminded me so much of that other awesome bike-riding heroine from my childhood, PRINCESS from Battle of the Planets.

Ah I remember the many playground battles over which lucky girl got to play Princess. Which is why all superhero teams need more than one girl please.

Laura E. Goodin said...

I was going to add my list, but it's too long. Sigh. Why don't I read that many books *now*??? (I wish I could truthfully say "Too busy writing new ones," but that's true to only a depressingly small degree.)

Rachel Holkner said...

Laura Ingalls Wilder here too.

And Pippi Longstocking, Jo March, Abigail Kirk, Ramona the Pest, Anastasia Krupnik, Penny Pollard.

I have suburban heroes.

TansyRR said...

Love the suburban heroes, Rachel! I hope you're submitting to TPP's Sprawl with influences like that...

Pharaoh Katt said...

Ooh, heroes! I had a few of those.
- Catwoman, from the Batman movies. I had such a crush on Michelle Phifer.
- Thomas Covenant... yeah, don't ask.
- Raphael from Ninja Turtles.
- Captain Kathryn Janeway, who not only shared my name, but was a strong leader and absolutely fantastic.
- Sarah Jane Smith. My all-time favourite companion.

As a child I seemed to be drawn to the female characters, and I would try to find ones that I could identify with. It was hard, but once I found one I didn't let go.

Kaia said...

I grew up on Astrid Lindgren books. Some of my favourites of hers are Ronia, Lotta, Mio and the boy from The Lionheart Brothers. I also loved Laura Ingalls and the boyish girl in the Fantastic Five books, whose name I can't remember. And Nancy Drew!

Thoraiya said...

My Mum only let me watch them if they had girl role models.

Princess Leia. Supergirl. Sheena. Princess from Voltron was not cool enough. I wanted to be Lance.