Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Kick-Ass Heroine: Have We Made a Mistake?

Today I have Alesha Escobar, the author of The Tower's Alchemist and Dark Rift with us to talk about The Kick-Ass Heroine.

Welcome, Alesha. :)
Everyone loves a strong heroine, right?

We appreciate her intelligence, down-to-earth demeanor, and strength. However, based on what you view strength as, you may either love or hate her. I recently came across an interesting blog post where the writer explained why she had a grudge against urban fantasy heroines. She said that society only validated or recognized one kind of strength in women--physical violence. And that was troubling to her.

Author Daniel Abraham said on the subject, “[Urban Fantasy heroines are] immune to traditional masculine power (that’s to say violence) because they have internalized it.  They’ve become it.  Urban Fantasy heroines are — for the most part — weaponized.

Okay, I don’t know about you, but I loved watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Xena Warrior Princess, and heck, even the first Underworld movie. One of the things so enjoyable about a fantasy heroine kicking butt is because it’s usually in defense of those who can’t defend themselves, or they’re dishing out justice to deserving offenders (vampires and ghouls included).

What if the violence wasn’t so much a display of “Ha-ha, I’m more powerful than you,” dominance as it is a willingness to fight for a person or cause? I’ll agree, that if all a heroine does throughout a book is walk into a room and punch people, it would be a huge turn off. However, can’t a girl wield a sword without being accused of being un-girly?

With that said, I also appreciate other types of strength women are able to display. Brains is one of them. I like a smart heroine who is able to think ahead and anticipate the enemy’s next move, or talk her way out of a fight before it even begins. I also believe strength can come from making a tough decision, one which may cost the heroine a huge sacrifice, but she’s willing to go through with it for the greater good. Those are also examples of strength.

I think both sides of the discussion have interesting and valid points, but I’m not quite ready to give up on kick-ass heroines just yet.

I’d love for you to share your thoughts with Cecelia and me in the comments section!


  1. Alesha, the observation that you and Mr. Abraham made about the weaponization of female heroism just knocked me out (pun intended.) Seriously, it's an excellent question. Do female heroines have to adopt masculine skills and strategies to be considered strong, and if so, why?

  2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Xena Warrior Princess are great characters. I loved them then and love them now. :-)

  3. Thanks, Devorah. This does give us much to think about when creating, reading, and discussing our fantasy heroines.

  4. I think a heroine should think more than she uses force. A woman is a life-giver, a naturer and one who gives love. If she can outthink the evil ones, she's well ahead of the game.

  5. I loved Buffy, too, but I'm uncomfortable writing that type of character. I usually make my heroes more physically strong than my heroines, but have my heroines be very brave and determined in their support of the "right" decision or cause.

  6. I'm a kick-ass heroine kind of girl, favoring the twist of physical and intellectual strength so she can kick butt in a fight and do pretty well during an investigation if needed.