There are a growing number of strong women characters in today’s popular media. From the superhero through to the everywoman, these ladies are popping up everywhere. What’s more, most of these women are good role models in addition to being totally awesome. Some are conventional, and some are anything but. Without further delay, let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite kick ass ladies.
Buffy: she’s a reformed Valley Girl cheerleader with a secret identity as a monster slaying, quip cracking badass. She’s got an outrageous 90s wardrobe and serious slayer skills, but her true strength lies in her ability to put everything else above her own personal needs in order to save the world and do the most good. Oftentimes she does this to her own detriment, sacrificing her boyfriend (“Becoming, Part II”), her chances for a normal existence (every episode, ever), and even her own life (“The Gift”). At first glance she might not appear to role model material. Look closer and you’ll find a woman who along with her superhuman strength and awesome slayer skills is selfless, brave, tenacious, and resourceful. She can be counted on to save the world. A lot.
A Muggle with a gift for wizardry; Hermione Granger is nobody’s shrinking violet. She is an unashamed academic overachiever—a nerd who loves learning, reading and getting every question right. Her outwardly bossy pants personality is tempered by an empathetic nature and a deep loyalty for friends and family. J.K. Rowling has said that the basis for Hermione came from an exaggerated version of herself and calls her “the brightest character" in the Potterverse. Hermione is brave, resourceful, proud of her intellect and best of all, she refuses to dumb herself down for anyone. Hermione Granger makes being a kick ass magical nerd awesome.
The least magical of our kick ass ladies’ quartet, and possessing no real superpowers to speak of, Liz Lemon is still a very worthy addition to the team. She’s the ultimate nerd-do-well as head writer on TGS, despite being surrounded by vapid celebrities and a certifiably insane writing staff. Liz’s mixture of geek and get it done is the foundation of her personality. Like Hermione, she is smart but refuses to dumb herself down (“TGS Hates Women”). She is plucky, career-minded, and tenacious, despite being insecure and having a mentor she has likened to Darth Vader (and she has referenced Star Wars far too many times to be considered legally sane). While she makes her fair share of mistakes and doesn’t always do the right thing, she makes a great role model precisely because she is flawed and doesn’t allow that stop her from being herself or trying to achieve her goals.
Wonder Woman is arguably the quintessential kick ass lady role model. When she debuted in 1942, the world of comics was overwhelmingly male. Wonder Woman was one of the first positive female role models for girls. She was created by William Moulton Marston, who wanted to make a "distinctly feminist role model whose mission was to bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to a world torn by the hatred of men."
She’s got superhuman strength, an arsenal of cool, crime-fighting gadgets at her disposal and one of the most iconic superhero outfits ever, but Wonder Woman is much more that the sum total of all that stuff. By nature she’s a pacifist and always favors negotiation over violence.
And now, kick ass ladies who should never be considered role models:
She’s definitely kick-ass, but certainly no one’s role model. That is, unless you’re a newly minted psych grad who’s ready to help your favorite patient spring free from the local psychiatric facility. Deadly and crazy on her own merits, and boasting the king of all Batman villains as her paramour, Harley Quinn is not someone you want to hold up as a personal role model. Ever.
She’s the best darn Viper pilot in the ‘verse, but no one could call her a role model. Fast living, hard drinking and with an utter disrespect for almost anyone in authority, Starbuck may be the woman you want on your side during a Cylon uprising, but she’s definitely not the one you want your kid sister emulating. Unless, of course, your name is Leoben.
Who’s your favorite kick-ass lady role model?