As a kid, I used to watch the Justice League cartoon on Cartoon Network with my brother. We would each wait patiently for our favourite character to make their appearance on the screen, say their favourite dialog and save the world. I do not remember much now, but there were so many superheros, each with their own unique abilities. His favourite was Batman and mine Wonder Woman, for simple reason she was one of the few female characters and as a girl I could look up to her. I never felt such a connect with any of the other heroes.
Fast forward to today, Patty Jenkins”Wonder Woman” was releasing and I couldn’t wait. Of course, we had seen Gal Gadot portray the character in Batman vs Superman in a supporting role but this was different. Diana Prince was finally getting her own movie! Yes, I know Wonder Woman has been portrayed by other actresses over the years but this, this was a female centric movie. No more did Diana wear her flimsy costume, she was in armor now and she was tough. It felt good sitting in the movie hall and having every single guy be intimidated by how strong she was. I felt inspired and strong. I felt like I could do anything.
Another strong female lead that has influenced me growing up is Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Belle’s character is so strong. She defies what the world of her time believed that a woman should be. In a world where women should only look for a man, she chose to read and educate herself. She chose to mould her life the way she wanted, not what the world felt she needed to be.
Hermione Granger in Harry Potter, the brightest witch of her age. She is an outsider to the wizarding world. She fought for friendship. She fought for what is right even though she could have very easily chosen to stay out of the limelight.
HBO’s GAME OF THRONES is full of strong female characters. Cersie, Sansa, Arya, Daenerys and Margaery. These formidable women have each fought through hardship in a mans world. Be it in the courtroom or on the battlefield. These women are strong and have made their mark in Westeros.
Princess Leia from the Star Wars series another string character that I admire. She fought hard in a mans world for justice against the Empire.
Disney has progressively introduced strong female characters as the years go by. From Belle to Merida to Elsa and now Moana. With each passing year the strength in the character grows to a point where they are the story. They no longer need a man to save them, they can save themselves.
Now I know all the women who I mentioned are fictional. But people get influenced by what they watch. Little girls get influenced by their favourite characters. Maybe not in an actual literal sense, but they do influence us subconsciously. They form our decisions. They make us choose what we do in our lives. Belle and Hermione read books and was smarter than most of the men around them; Diana and Arya are master swordsmen and can defeat any man; Leia, Sansa, Cersei and Margaery are experts in the courtroom. When reality turns to painful or boring we turn to fiction. And when we find female characters, strong female characters it gives us something to belong to, something to feel a part of and something to inspire us and help is move on in life.
Strong female leads show us that we can do it. We can conquer, we can be strong, we can fight. They show us that we don’t have to just sit at home and wait for someone else to make our destiny. That we can do it all by ourselves and that makes us stronger.