What makes a strong female character?

First in a series

One thing I often find when I’m reading about Sci/Fi or Fantasy novels, television shows, movies, et cetera, is the discussion of how Sci Fi and Fantasy produces Strong Female Characters!”

However, what methods do we use to determine the strength of a female character? Who makes the list, and who doesn’t? Who shouldn’t make the list?

For purposes of this blog, I am not going to discuss any specific female characters. I am using this blog as a basis to describe my reasoning in the Female Strength scale.

For every character I examine, I will the following questions:

1. Who is the character? (Name)

2.  What is her role/career in the world she belongs to? (Captain, Queen, Chosen One, Second-in-command?)

3. What is the source of her power? Does she have [magic] power because she was born with it? If she was not “born to the power,” how did she get the power? (i.e “Chosen” by a mysterious council, win via election, did she take power or did she have it forced upon her). Did she have to put up a fight to obtain her power?

4..  Who are the important men in her life? Can we, in any way, attribute her position, power, or authority in thanks to the men in her life (father, brother, boyfriend/husband/lover)? (Did Daddy give her the power, is she only cool because she’s the Chosen One’s girlfriend?)

5. Is she ever used as a “damsel in distress” If so, how does she handle her capture/stress? Does she rescue herself, or did she put herself into the stress to begin with?

6  Sex- Is sex and sexuality important to the character? Does she spend much of her time trying to impress the men around her? Is she the Maiden/Mother/Crone?

7. How “manly” is the character? Is she a tomboy, or androgynous? Is she really just a male character in a female body?

8. What are her weaknesses?

9. How interesting would she be if she were a male character?

Now, I may come up with criteria later on, but I’m not going to judge these women via any arbitrary scales. I’m simply going to look at the questions, and answer them to the best of my ability. I may find that some characters I previously considered weak actually are stronger than I realized.


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