Badass Woman #1– I was born in 1967 and grew up in the 70s and 80s, so I wasn’t exactly inundated with strong, powerful female role models on Television. But Linda Carter as Wonder Woman comes on to the scene in 1975 and gave me a different view of women. She may hide her identity in that of a secretary, but she’s an Amazonian princess. In the Amazon, the women rule, and they never bow to male authority. Wonder Woman undoes her hair and twirls around, and she is a superhero with a magical golden lasso and bracelets which can deflect bullets. She fights with superhuman strength and ability and never needs to be rescued. As the theme song stated, “All the world is waiting for you, and the power you possess.” Wonder Woman taught me that women can be strong.
Badass Woman #2: Phédre nó Delaunay from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series. Phedre isn’t your typical badass woman because she isn’t a warrior, but she is proof that physical prowess isn’t the only way a woman can be a badass. Phédre is sold into indentured servitude as a child and is raised to be a prostitute and spy for her master. Prostitution is seen as a noble profession in her society, which doesn’t have our society’s hang-ups about sex. Still, one would think such a childhood would leave a scar. Instead, Phédre becomes a strong woman who not only revels in sex, but becomes much more when her country becomes threatened. She uses her intelligence to uncover a plot against her kingdom, and with her bodyguard/later lover, Josselin, works to thwart it. In her relationship with Josselin, there is never any doubt that Phédre is the dominant partner. However, her power is the power of her intellect. Josselin is the bad ass fighter, but it is her mind as often or more than his skills that get them out of trouble. Phédre remains very feminine, proving the femininity doesn’t need to mean weakness. For Phédre, it is strength.
Badass Woman #3: Rey from Stars Wars: The Force Awakens. Rey is a strong, competent woman who can take care of herself. Yes, she receives some help from Finn, Han, and Chewbacca, but she has already almost managed her own escape before they show up. The movie keeps her focused on her heroic mission and resists the temptation to sidetrack her into a romance, which happens with far too many women in fiction. She is the one who takes on the main villain, not any of the men, and she is the one who goes to find Luke at the end. I’m looking forward to seeing her again in the next movie.
Badass Woman #4– Sookie Stackhouse from Charlaine Harris’s series. Harris introduces Sookie in Dead After Dark and does a marvelous job developing her after the 13 book series. Sookie has her fair share of trouble, chief among them is her ability to read minds. She refers to it as a disability because she can’t turn in off but has the constant buzz of other people’s thoughts in her mind. First, the inability to get some mental quiet would be maddening, and also, as she lets us know, most the time people are thinking about pretty boring stuff. But her disability becomes her strength, and she uses it to defeat her enemies and help her friends. While Sookie never becomes a great fighter and remains a waitress throughout the series. Still, she is a strong woman who thinks for herself and always tries to do the right thing although, like all of us, she sometimes fails in this. Like Phédre, Sookie shows that there is more than one way to be a badass woman.
Badass Woman #5: Karrin Murphy from Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. I loved Karrin Murphy from the moment I first met her racing Dresden to the door so that he won’t open it for her. I hate men opening the door for me. Not only does she stand up for herself as a woman, but she’s intelligent and completely badass. She can handle any weapon and hold her own in a fight. She’s loyal, and Butcher resists turning her into Dresden’s girl friend. She will only have men on her own terms.
When I created Brigitta in The Ghost in Exile, it is these women that I aspired to. Brigitta begins the novel as a victim who is rescued by our hero, The Ghost, but she refuses to remain one. By the end of the novel, she is a badass woman, who I hope can some day join their ranks.
In the comments below, tell us, “Who is your favorite badass woman?”