May 15th 2012
Who Was the First Kickass Heroine?
I ask the question not because I’m writing an essay, or because my latest heroine is going to reference all the great KHs of the past, but because I’m curious. And because I’m lazy. So why not ask the group mind here at SFNovelists?
I’ve done a little googling. There are several lists in Wikipedia (List of Female Action Heroes, Women Warriors in History), and a lot of Top Ten Kickass Heroine lists from many, many bloggers. Except for historical examples, almost all the women listed are from the last fifty years, (the last thirty, really), especially the top ten lists. But what about farther back? Would the Molly Pitchers qualify? Or the women who fought in the American Civil war dressed as men? Or the women who served in the various 18th century European navies? Or female pirates? Or any of a number of non-Western examples about which I’m obviously pretty ignorant?
For that matter, does Joan of Arc qualify as a KH? I think so, because I think being a successful general is about as kickass as it gets. But, according to the accounts I’ve read, Joan didn’t do a whole lot of asskicking. Mostly she just exhorted the usual mob of belligerent men – there is no historical record of her actually fighting. Do you have to actually fight to be a KH?
And what about goddesses? Is Artemis kickass because she’s so smart? (Again, do you have to actually, physically kick ass to qualify?)
So you see, I have a lot of questions. I don’t really have any answers, though, as usual, I do have lots of opinions. Which are, of course, highly subjective. What’s not subjective, though, is the first time I realized there was such a thing as a KH. (I’m old enough to have seen the idea of the KH go from absurdity to cliché.) It wasn’t Batgirl, or Wonder Woman (though she did come close), or Wasp, or Sue Storm, or any of the other early ‘60s comic heroines where I first came close to the concept. It wasn’t Meg in A Wrinkle in Time – I’ve always thought Meg was pretty meh. And it wasn’t Queen Elizabeth I, either. (What did I know, I was twelve.)
It was Emma Peel, in the spring of 1966, when The Avengers first came to American TV.
Who was your first Kickass Heroine? Who is your favorite?
Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.
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