So back to everyone’s favourite genderflipping re-casting.
A young Lucy Skywalker, ambitious farmgirl who, although loyally devoted to her Aunt and Uncle homesteaders on lonely Tatooine, has overcome her grief at their deaths to chase her Jedi destiny out among the stars. (Here’s a thought, would the original single moment of devastation that Luke shows in the original film be enough if he was a female character? Would that make her seem callous and unfeeling? How do we as writers manage the expected difference in grief expression between men and woman, without perpetuating stereotypes?)
Accompanied by prophetess and guide, the not-so-crazy-as-expected Obi Wan Kenobina, and a pair of cheerful metal sidekicks, the party makes it’s way to that den of iniquity and vice, with the live music this side of known space: Mos Isely.
Here they meet a twitchy, fast-talking rogueish braggart of a pilot who scoffs at the idea of any ship on this planet beating her beloved Millennium Falcon for speed and power. A dust-up in the bar unfolds and the Solo girl reveals her murky underworld connections in what is very far from a gentlewoman’s duel with a bounty hunter. (FTR Hannah shot first)
“Coo,” says I, “That was easier than I expected. Hannah Solo practically hopped onto the page, ready written. Now why is that? We have a plethora of tropes dealing with the sexy female rogue, sometimes a gunslinger, sometimes a getaway pilot, generally with unexpectedly sassy one liners. May I present you, ladies and gents with the one of the classic Strong Female Characters. Generally lean and wiry rather than physically powerful, generally a ranged shooter rather than a Girl With a Sword, usually her own mechanic but rarely seen dirty or covered up by bulky protective gear like say, welding hats, and continually playing jump-rope with the line of the Law.”
About the only facet of Han’s repertoire that doesn’t slot nicely into the girl-version is his screw-ups. I can’t remember the last time I saw a strong female character who couldn’t deliver exactly what she promised and do it with a smile : One in the eye from you, chauvinist conservatives!
Is this a problem with the portrayal of strong women in the kind of stories that we tell? That unless they are the protagonist and on an emotional journey, they tend to be Supermom? Maybe the problem is with more than stories and something of a societal issue. Now that ladies are allowed to do it all, they must! At once! Remaining poised and lovely!
I think, from what I read and hear and don’t hear nowadays that this may be changing, which is a joy and a relief. Just so long as us’ns in the worldsmithing department remember to keep up with the times and make sure our tropes hold true and appropriate.
I try and illustrate each post with an image, and the one I really want to use for this post you can find here http://io9.com/fully-clothed-female-superheros-finally-look-like-they-465527601
They are imho really interesting character designs done by Michael Lee Lunsford: http://ze-tarts.tumblr.com/
The reason that the picture itself is not in this blog post, is that it is somebody else’s hard work and skill and I haven’t been granted permission to use it. I have asked for permission, but Mr Lunsford I’m sure has a lot on his list before getting to answering questions about blog use of his artworks. So, until I definitely have permission, please click the links 🙂
While on the subject of writing by, for, and about girls, go and have a look at The Hawkeye Initiative: http://thehawkeyeinitiative.com/ for really interesting thoughts about the visual representation of strong women in comics