We demand stronger women in science fiction, because… Well, why should guys get to have ALL the fun? We need MORE brilliant heroines! Give us a brutal villainess too! Bring on the talented ladies who aren’t afraid to let their lights shine. Let’s celebrate their brains, beauty, AND brawn. Hell YEAH!
FREE shorts that feature badass women
Why badass women?
Let’s face it, with the exception of Ursula K. Le Guin, classical science fiction was almost exclusively written by white men. Science fiction has focused more on building strange worlds and the dangers of wild tech than it has on women. And while I still enjoy reading Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, there’s a hint of sexism and misogyny in their works that rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these men are sexist pigs. I’m just saying they were a product of their times, and the 60’s were pretty damned hard on women.
It’s a new age, and our stories need to be more inclusive.
So, when I say, “badass women,” what exactly do I mean? Well, let’s break it down.
Definition of badass
Here’s what the dictionary has to say:
bad·ass | ˈbadˌas | North American informal
- a tough, uncompromising, or intimidating person: one of them is a real badass, the other’s pretty friendly.
- a formidably impressive person: she is so wonderful, so sweet, so rad, so amazing; she’s a badass
- tough, uncompromising, or intimidating: a badass demeanor.
- formidable; excellent: this was one badass camera.
That pretty much sums it up. Easy, right? Let me make one thing clear, my heroine might be a BADASS, but don’t call her a BITCH. Because the word BITCH implies that she is acting out of line.
Heros need to act heroic, regardless of their gender.
When I write about badass women, it’s simple. My female protagonist will do whatever her equivalent male character would do in the same situation. She won’t let gender roles limit her to subservience. She won’t waver. If a hero would step up and kill a nazi, then my heroine will step up and kill a nazi. She will not feel bad about it or apologize afterward. She won’t cry over it. Would HE? No. Then neither should she. End of discussion.
Definition of woman
wom·an | ˈwo͝omən | (plural women | ˈwimin | )
- an adult human female: a jury of seven women and five men.
- [with modifier] a female person associated with a particular place, activity, or occupation: a young American woman.
[in singular] female adults in general: woman is intuitive. a peremptory form of address to a woman: don’t be daft, woman!
- a female worker or employee.
a female paid to clean someone’s house and carry out general domestic duties: a daily woman. a wife, girlfriend, or lover: he wondered whether Billy had his woman with him.
Those last two definitions grind my gears a bit. That’s what I mean by implied sexism. If I pay a man to clean my house and do domestic chores, can I call him a “daily man?” No. And while I might refer to my husband as “my man,” that still implies ownership. So, I don’t like it either way. Now, I’m not saying the dictionary is sexist. I’m saying that our language is. Plus, I’m going to go out on a limb and add another definition. If I could edit the dictionary, I’d add this entry:
- any person who identifies as female, regardless of gender at birth. Specifically, trans women ARE women.
Putting it all together
It has been really challenging for me to get to this point as a writer. I always WANTED to write about badass women, but felt like I had to apologize for my female characters after they did something BOLD. I always worried that if she did what she had to do in the story, she would no longer be likable. But I never felt that way about the men I wrote about. And I realized I was being bound by the very same gender roles that I was trying to get my female characters to break free from in my stories. Read more about why this was such a problem for me for so long.
Some people suggested that I just write the story as if she were a man all along, then switch the gender of the character at the end. But I don’t like this approach. Could you do the same thing for an African-American character? Write him as a white guy during the whole book, then switch his race during editing? No. That wouldn’t work. Why? Because it’s about culture. It’s about identity. It’s about community.
You can’t do that kind of massive overhaul to a character and expect the rest of the story to fall in around it all nice like. Imagine if Kevin Kwan had written CRAZY RICH ASIANS that way. Yikes! His delightful asian romance would have lacked all the nuance and authenticity that made it so immersive and irresistible.
Thank goodness I worked through my badass women issues! Dropping my gender hangups has made all the difference–not just in my writing. Give one of these badass women a try.