That's great, in my book. I'm even doing that myself - Kaia, my female MC, doesn't need a man to get her out of her biggest scrapes (though there is sometimes a man involved, to an awesome degree). But she's not like a martial arts master or a sexy assassin or something. She's just a normal girl who sticks up for herself and gets herself and her friends out of jams. But after the chat got going, it seemed people had different definitions of what exactly made a strong female character. Does a kick-ass female have to be like Lara Croft here, all brawn and no emotion?
Well, that's certainly one way to look at it. No doubt that Lara was a kick-ass character. I mean, she's a TOMB RAIDER. WITH GUNS. And just look at those biceps!! I'm pretty sure she could kick my butt.
But I don't think Lara makes a very interesting character. She's definitely textbook kick-ass, but is she really a strong female character? I mean, yeah, she can beat up some evil-doers, but can she crush on that hot new guy, even though he gives her the stink-eye in biology? That would be the other extreme, the one who's all emotion and no defense, the one who's more like:
Bella Swan. I don't think there is a single blog reader who would disagree with me when I say that Bella is pretty much the complete opposite of a kick-ass female character. Sure, she can be emotional when she needs to, but let's face it: She watches a car come flying toward her and hardly does anything. Every scene where she's in her OWN car with a boy, the boy is usually driving. She drops her entire life to be with her boyfriend, and when her boyfriend totally bails on her (sorry, I didn't give a spoiler alert, but those New Moon previews were everywhere, and if you haven't read these books by now, you're not going to) she literally curls up into a ball and DOESN'T MOVE. Then she leaves her diary blank (or has a moody emo montage, depending on the medium you're enjoying your New Moon experience in) for months while she thinks about the good ole' days with her Adonis boyfriend. Yeah. Not strong, in the head, heart, or body. At least she shows her emotions, though.
So I tried to think of the perfect kick-ass female character. And I couldn't decide on just one. I thought of three that I loved, all from YA, because that's what I write. I'm going to talk about them here, but you can feel free to mention your favorite in the comments!
Kick-ass character No. 1: Princess Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
I'll admit that most of you will have no idea who Princess Cimorene is. (Shout-out to my sister, who I know for sure is squealing with delight at her inclusion on my short list.) That's really a shame, because Cimorene was my first introduction to the kick-ass female character. Cimorene is a no-nonsense princess who turns the very notion of a damsel in distress on its head. She gets tired of living in the castle and runs away to live with dragons. While there, she scrubs floors and teaches other princesses how to think for themselves. She even turns away knights when they try to rescue her. She solves very serious problems for the king of the dragons. But later in the series, when she finally does meet someone who is a good match for her, she marries him. They even have a child together. This shows that, even though she's totally kick-ass and knows how to fence, she still isn't afraid to find love. She is a kick-ass female character.
Kick-ass character No. 2: Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Petulant and impulsive and totally bratty, Lyra is one of my favorite characters in YA literature. You can see how much she matures as the series goes on. She starts off in Oxford College as a disobedient little girl, but by the end of the series she is making very grown-up decisions about love, loss, life, and the fate of the universe. And riding polar bears! I'm not going to say any more because I don't want to spoil this incredible series for anyone who hasn't read it yet, but trust me when I say: Lyra is definitely a kick-ass female character.
Kick-ass female character No. 3: Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games/Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
No list of kick-ass female characters would be complete without Katniss. She stands up for her family, and yet she's emotionally conflicted about boys. She can kill you with a bow and arrow, but she can't decide whether or not kissing Peeta feels right. She is strong physically and emotionally. She is a kick-ass female character.
The truth is, a 100% kick-ass female character just couldn't exist. Because it wouldn't be realistic. No matter how much we ladies like to pretend we're strong all the time, all of us, even the most hardened, have our emotional breakdowns. We are all vulnerable at times. The best way to create a strong female character is to let her be strong in every way possible - then show her weaknesses.