I spotted on Simon’s ‘prose practice’ (a literary agony uncle column) that the bookish community was struggling to recommend books that featured single ladies, who remain single and happy at the end of the story. This started me off on a train of thought about female role models and also made me wonder what other people’s favourite heroines might be…
Thanks to forward-thinking parents I was brought up on a diet of quirky kids books like The Paper Bag Princess, an anti-fairy tale which questions whether girls really need to be saved by a handsome prince (who might actually turn out to be a massive idiot) and suggests they might be better off looking after themselves!
On the other hand, I have a boyfriend and let’s face it, it is nice to be ‘rescued’ occasionally from the grumps or when I’m stressed-out. I would also like to think that he would dig me out in the event that my humungous book-pile toppled over!
On the big screen, I’ve always thought that the character of Ellen Ripley (Alien) and Sarah Connor (Terminator) were pretty cool female role models (tough and female, sexy but not over-sexualised).
This very entertaining and thoughtful article – Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women argues that the best female role models are in fact flawed, and set me off thinking…and laughing quite a lot too!
One fictional character who stood out to me lately was Betty from The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She is a smart and sensible young woman who singlehandedly rescues her sister from an absolutely terrible situation with elegance and bravery. She is active where others are impotent, steadfast but never boring and the character made quite an impression on me.
What are other people’s favourite fictional heroines? What qualities do you think are inspirational in a female character?
(N.B. If there are any blokes reading I’d love to know your thoughts too!)