Heroines Who Kick Ass

Let’s face it – there’s already a pretty solid platform of voices ranting critiquing educating the public about the dangers of weak heroines in fiction and media.

Not to misunderstand, mind, because there’s definitely a time and place for damsels in distress. There’s a reason bodice-rippers were so popular. And, much as I might hate it myself, there is also a reason why so many women want their own Edward or Christian. This is a (mostly) judge-free zone.

But today’s Common Grounds topic hangs out on the other end of that spectrum: kick-ass heroines who don’t need saving. They don’t need a man to show them how to enjoy sex, nor do they need ‘help’ feeling worthy or attractive. Now, that can seem like kind of a tall order. After all, we don’t want a Mary Sue on our hands either, do we? Neither do we want a heroine so strong, so tough, and so independent, that she emasculates the hero, right?

…hold up a tick on that last one, actually. Because wouldn’t it stand to reason that if our heroine is made of super-napalm-awesomeballs, then our hero might just be equally as awesome, thus resulting in a megaton duo of amazing? Why isn’t there more of is? Or wait – maybe there’s actually a LOT of this, but it’s currently eclipsed by the media-blitz and popularity of weak, vapid, shallow, so-called heroines.

Well, rather than ranting about it, let’s discuss it. What makes a heroine really awesome? The list of qualifications is actually pretty subjective.

Take BBW-land, for instance. Ooooh, that’s a controversial one. Which is the stronger heroine – the woman who overcomes her eating issues and challenges herself to become fit, thus losing all the excess weight and going from ugly-duckling to swan? Or is it the woman who accepts her body, flaws and all, and celebrates her curves? (My personal answer: it depends on other personality traits in said heroine, but both can be pretty kick-ass options.)

Some of it just depends on how you look at it – that’s one of the many great things about fiction, in general. I’ve seen reviews of books I hated because I thought the heroines were TSTL, where the reviewer felt that the heroine was particularly strong for other reasons. (This is where diplomacy and a lack of free time helps out tremendously. I simply close that tab and mentally agree to disagree.)

So, what makes a heroine kick ass in your mind? Who are some of your favorite kick-ass heroines? This is going to be a recurring theme, btw. Probably about once a month, Mondays will be taken up with certain heroines who kick ass. Could be in books – romance or otherwise, movies, television, even non-storytelling-media (hello PJ Harvey!). And yes, even in real life.

All that said, this month’s kick-ass book heroines are:

Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels
Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series

Eve Langlais's Aylia from Intentional Abduction
Aylia from Intentional Abduction by Eve Langlais

Vin from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn
Vin from Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Miranda Rohan from Anne Stuart’s Breathless

Other kick-ass heroines:

-Ellen Ripley
-Princess Leia
-River Tam
-Katniss Everdeen
-Buffy Summers

Okay, so the list goes on, and it’s no good to blow the whole load in one week, yeah? Unfortunately, the list is a little image-light due to copyright concerns, but you should get the gist. Who are some of your favorite kick-ass heroines?


2 responses to “Heroines Who Kick Ass

  1. As soon as I saw your title I thought “Ellen Ripley”, but you had already thought of her. I love how Ripley is tough, smart and resourceful, but also how, in Aliens, she had a softer, more maternal side.

    Lisbeth Salander is another great kick-ass heroine. Not because she literally kicks ass, but also because she is unabashed in her sexuality and is wholeheartedly always true to herself.

    • Thanks for commenting! I agree re: Lisbeth Salander, and I haven’t even read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. In fact, part of the reason I haven’t, is also the reason why she’d undoubtedly a kick-ass heroine. Her story is too much for me to even read!

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