It’s hard to kick-ass at age 71. And there really aren’t many role models out there for someone my age.
Oh, I don’t mean people who jump out of planes at age 100 or scuba dive at age 94. All of that is all well and good, but risking my life for fun has never been one of my turn-ons. My risks tend to be sendentary and verbal. (Like, that’s a surprise.) I guess that’s why I’m such a fan of contemporary television’s Harry’s Law. Now, there’s a role model for me (even though she’s youngER.)
Aside from good ol’ Granny Weatherwax, however, there are really no older fantasy kick-ass females, probably because older women are not considered sexy. Hell, we’re usually not even considered attractive by standard standards. And young, attractive, and sexy is what kick-ass females are “supposed” to be — or at least that’s what the fantasy sub-culture artists believe.
There’s a complex and intelligent online discussion about “sexy geek girls” going on among members of the fandom subcuture — the ones into who love fantasy writings, go to fantasy and comic conventions, and find it empowering to “cosplay.” (I’ll bet few of my readers know what that word means.) The worthwhile discussion is spinning off from a panel discussion at the recent San Diego Comic-Con called “Oh You Sexy Geek!”
The only reason I know about the convention or the panel is because I follow my son’s tweets, and he was a photographer there. And I’ve been tooling around the web leaving my comments here and there about my take — not on whether girl geeks are/can be/should be sexy, but rather what priority should (IMHO) flamboyant “sexiness” be for young women, geeks or not, fantasy or real.
Anyway, here’s what I said in one of those comments:
I’m speaking/writing as a somewhat marginalized geeky female (71 years old) who has been a fan of powerful kick-ass, attractive (notice that I didn’t say “sexy”) female characters since I discovered the original Wonder Woman back in the 1940s. Halloween was my favorite holiday long before there was such a thing as cosplay because I could dress up as Barbaraella or Xena or a vampire (depending on the decade) and not be considered a fruitcake (now, there’s a dated word!) This whole discussion has drawn me in because I also fought in the feminist wave back in the 60s and learned much from the struggle of us females to balance the power of our sexuality with the power and respect that we deserve to have in the realms of social , political, and personal relationships. It’s a little too easy for us females to confuse limited sexual power with the other kinds, and, for whatever reasons, unenlightened males too often get off on all of the sexist implications of the Slave Leia kind of sexiness. And while being sexy is not a bad thing, it needs to be kept in perspective. An it’s not all all the same as “attractiveness,” although the two can overlap. I understand why male comic artists pander to the adolescent fantasies of pubescent males, but I nonetheless urge all of you attractive geek chicks to keep pushing for less emphasis on the visual sexiness of female comic book heroes and more on their strength, independence, and overall attractiveness. (At least more realistically proportioned and less exposed boobs and butts!) I look forward to watching the evolution of the geekgirl con, especially the panel on how to raise geeky kids. (Since I already seem to somehow have done that – both male and female. And they are both feminists as well.)
Anyway, to satisfy my curiosity, I did a search for “unattractive kick-ass female characters.” I found this one on this site:
Now, to me that’s a female fantasy hero!!!
I wonder what they would look like at age 71 or older. (More like Granny Weatherwax, I suppose.)
I also suppose that I was spoiled by having the early Wonder Woman as my fantasy. There was only one like her, and she was a life-long positive inspiration for lots of the comic-addicted females of my generation. She inspired us to become the strong-voiced women we are today. I wonder if the sexy young geeks of this generation will feel that way about their current fantasy females 40 or 50 years from now.
You might like the recent send up of “strong female characters” on one of my new favourite web comics, “Hark, a vagrant”: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=311
I thought it was a great parody of everything hollywood gets wrong with kick-ass female characters.