As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my hotel room at the second annual ConGregate 2015: Scoundrels and Rogues. It’s the busiest day for me as a panelist. Some of the great discussions have been about fan expectations for film and TV adaptations, the essential superhero library, and how to do podcast interviews.
One of my favorite panels, though, was “Warrior Women:”
From Xena and Wonder Woman to Brienne of Tarth and Jane Yellowrock, warrior women can be very different. What defines them? What critical aspects of a character make them “warriors?”
When I contemplated what a warrior woman is, the results sounded like a superhero hero story. If writers are looking for a way to write a female protagonist, some of these thoughts might be helpful.
WHAT DEFINES A WARRIOR WOMAN?
The agency of a warrior woman is very much the definition of a hero, super or not. From an amazon demi-god to a supernatural cheerleader, these five things explain who she is.
Initiative. She doesn’t wait for permission to make a difference; she just knows something needs to be done.
Conviction. She doesn’t fight simply for the sake of brutalizing people. Even if she sometimes struggles with the path she’s chosen, her convictions keep her steady.
Resolve. She accepts she will probably be alone in her struggle, that it may not yield immediate results, if ever, and she may not always know the right thing to do, but that is easier than doing nothing.
Inclusive. She’s not so arrogant as to think she is the sole solution to every problem. She will do it alone, but respects and welcomes others’ skills and contributions. But don’t drag your feet, there’s a job to do and she won’t wait long for others to get on board.
Prepared. She trains, learns, and equips for the task before her. Generally, she’s not reckless because playing smart gives her a slight advantage.
WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL ASPECTS THAT MAKE THEM WARRIOR WOMEN?
Is Willow Rosenberg a warrior woman? Do warriors have to carry a weapon? Maybe not a traditional weapon but you should be able to recognize her by these three things:
She has answered a call.
When someone says, “One person can’t make a difference,” in her core, she knows that’s not true and that it’s time to act.
She has a skill set.
At the birth of a calling a warrior woman may not know exactly how she can make a difference, only that she has to. Along the way she will learn how much she has to offer.
She is protective.
This comes in many forms and is not typically as straight forward as bandaging wounds and comforting victims. She can be the tank that takes all the hard hits.
MY LIST OF WARRIOR WOMEN
Against an unknown foe determined to kill everyone, Ellen Ripley survives because of her intuitive to take charge, solve the problem, and know when to take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
One of the earliest and most recognizable warriors is Wonder Woman. Her legacy has had ups and downs but her warrior agency is solid. She is a picture of conviction for justice and the protection of the innocent.
Although The Lord of the Rings doesn’t have many female characters, sometimes it takes just one great act from one brave woman like Éowyn to change the tide of an apocalyptic war. She was resolved to go to war even though she had no idea what she really could contribute.
As troubled as Sarah Connor is, there’s no denying her nurturing and preparedness. She is our numbered and out gunned by nearly invincible Terminators but she’ll prepare anyway because she has to take care of the human race.
With the X-Files: Revival coming soon, I’ve been binge watching the original. I have so much more admiration for the character of Dana Scully than the first time I saw the series. She fits all the categories easily but inclusive may be her super power.
Scully has unwavering resolve and she’s teamed with someone equally resolved but whose convictions appear to be the opposite of her own. Without the willingness to be inclusive, she would have flipped on Mulder early on, gotten the X-files shutdown, and moved on to a partner and assignment with a less challenging path.
Day 2 and 3
I’m going to end my day at a midnight panel on good fictional book cover design. I have the whole day tomorrow to simply be a con attendee. I imagine myself digging through some comic book boxes in the dealer room. Then on Sunday I’ll be talking with others about how to promote your podcast and how to get more women in STEM fields.
I’ll Give You a Topic
What unconventional warrior women, like Dana Scully, can you think of?
Does “warrior” mean weapon?
Does this same definition apply to a warrior man? Are there differences?