THE “STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER”

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The strong female character is something that I often hear when discussing TV or movies to consume. It’s a phrase that I often roll my eyes at because these strong women are often not that. No, your strong female character kicking butt in high heels and having armor with obvious boob cups, still only defined by her relationship with a man, is not something to be celebrated. There seems to be a presumption within Hollywood movies that a female character is strong because she is kicking butt and still looking beautiful and perfect while doing it: sexualized, romanticized, obvious bait for the male consumer. No, her skimpy outfit does not count as empowering. No matter how tragic her backstory is that makes her wear nothing but underwear and a bra, it’s still bait for men.

What is the perfect strong female character? It’s a question that is hard to answer, because there are so few examples (which is really sad). However, the most recent example that we can consider to be good is the Queen of Cintra, Calanthe of the new Netflix series The Witcher. Not only is she shown in armor that doesn’t have boob cups, but she also is not afraid to speak her mind and tell men what she wants. Not to mention that there are scenes with her covered in blood and spitting in men’s faces. Yes, she is indeed a queen.

What makes her especially empowered is the fact that the director does not care to hide the “uglier” aspects of her character. Unlike Hollywood women who are expected to appear beautiful and perfect no matter what, even if they are in the middle of a warzone where getting dirt all over is to be expected, the director does not hide these aspects with Calanthe.

The series shows that she is a queen and fights on the battlefield just by the grime that is on her, in addition to how natural she appears in armor over the typical formalwear. This is also a compliment to her acting, as she is able to pull off an intimidating queen role whilst still being able to act motherly with her daughter.

One should not be content with the scraps that Hollywood deigns to give us. We should ask more from Hollywood to make women who are unapologetic, intimidating, and aren’t scared to get their hands dirty without worrying about making the shot perfect. We should ask more and not entirely ignore the women who are within movies. Rather, we should expect people to write better female characters and continue to demand that women get stories and personalities equally as engaging as the men do in movies.