Strong Females in Fiction

There seem to be a miniscule amount of female protagonists in roles in film and television. Much of the time females are used as love interests and are often passive. This contrasts with many novels, where most I read feature many strong female characters. Perhaps this is why I often choose reading over TV.

I have never thought too much about it before but looking back, I can see most books I have read contain females I wish would exist in the rest of the media industry. Is this because many of the authors are female or most readers are female? Whichever the case, books are a great example of girl power and it would be great if Hollywood would take a leaf out of their book, so to speak.

My tastes when it comes to novels vary. I love horror, romance and thrillers by authors who have completely different styles of writing but the one thing that is consistent is their ability to create multidimensional female protagonists who live for more than just meeting and falling in love with men.

My number one favourite author has always been Jackie Collins. Her novels are a great escape and always contain women to aspire to. Yes, most of the time they are physically beautiful – the setting is usually Hollywood after all – but they always face hard challenges, misogyny, are intelligent and end up on top. The character of Lucky Santangelo is a great example. She grows up without a mother, hidden away in a mansion under the strict rule of her former gangster father. Her father’s views of traditional gender roles do nothing to sway her from making a name for herself in the business world.

Sidney Shelden knew how to write about strong women. He favored them over men in most of his novels. My favourite If Tomorrow Comes features Tracy Whitney who loses the promise of a lavish life after her mother kills herself due to a conman scamming her to sell her company and leaving her with enormous debt. Surviving prison, the mafia and the loss of her unborn child, Tracy finds the drive to ingeniously payback those who did her wrong and a talent for stealing priceless jewels and artwork. Shelden is always entertaining and you never know where the plot will take you.

Anne Rice’s most famous character is undoubtedly her vampire Lestat, but his story and Rice’s other novels shine with powerful women. The female vampires in her novels are strong and dignified as they wander through the “savage garden” that is eternity as a vampire. Her other novels also heavily feature strong females, from witches to those working in the world of S&M.

I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning Australia’s own proud feminist author Tara Moss. Every one of her novels is bursting with females breaking the mold. Her books about Mak Vanderwell showcase a woman who appears stronger, both physically and emotionally after each traumatic event she faces. Moss’s characters are inspiring and the epitome of girl power.


3 thoughts on “Strong Females in Fiction

  1. There is a strong intersectional feminist movement already underway to get more women into powerful roles in society that are currently dominated by men in the hope that this will be reflected in films and TV shows.

    Feminists are asking women to take up “power jobs” in construction, security, infrastructure maintenance, front line policing, various trades, transportation, farming, logging, mining, fishing, factory work, technical and engineering work and garbage collection and management. Even in 2014 these jobs are STILL dominated by men.

    Currently men are killed at work 20 times more frequently than women and it is hoped more women taking up these jobs will help to address this unacceptable gender inequality. And with women working shoulder to shoulder with men in these power occupations Hollywood will no longer have an excuse to portray women in passive comfortable roles.

    Girl power!

  2. Pingback: Strong Females in Fiction | brooklynthebooklover

  3. I’ve read none of these authors, but I completely relate to this. I search for strong female characters in every novel I pick, and for all kinds of different sort of strength.

    Books are almost always more satisfying than movies of tv shows. It’s one of the reasons I’m so happy for the ever-growing trend of adapting books on screen.

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