I had planned to do this yesterday for International Woman’s Day, but hell, women should be celebrated everyday! There are so many wonderful, kind, generous and strong women out there, all influencing and changing the world little by little. Mothers and other relatives, teachers, writers, artists, actors, directors; these women are everywhere. I decided to put together a top 10 of my favourite influential femmes (in no particular order) - but this may go over ten. Some are real, and some are real enough, heroes to draw power from, or at least for me.
1. Red Sonja
From the time I was just a little strange and freckled child, I was in love with Sonja. I was raised on Conan and his adventures, which of course overlapped with Sonja’s (even though he’s technically not Conan in it, but we know..). I wasn’t introduced to the comics until some years later, but the towering, flame-haired Brigitte Nielsen instilled within me a pride in my natural hair colour – sadly a source of shame for many of my kind – and in being taller, and in some cases stronger, than some boys in school. She’s a sword-wielding heroine any girl can look up to.
2. Lara Croft
Again, Ms. Croft’s been with me for many, many years. I remember countless hours sat infront of the television, watching my dad and brothers play Tomb Raider II over and over. I could only really take care of The Great Wall, and still have trouble handling a lot of the levels, since I would get over-excited and the nerves got the better of me. But that was enough for me. Watching her shoot her way through anything – tigers, Yetis, dinosaurs – while maintaining her femininity and possessing a rather high intellect, just made me want to be her… fall-away floors, spikes and all. She also had a lot to do with my love of history and why I would always answer, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” with “archaeologist or egyptologist”. We could always throw in some danger and intrigue!
3. Tank Girl
I first seen the Tank Girl movie before I really knew what was going on in it, let alone get half of the things she was saying. I remembered bits and pieces, but I always thought she was played by Gwen Stefani and not the equally as shiny Lori Petty! I seen it again a few years later and got a bit obsessed, still not completely aware of everthing. I just thought she was the single most awesome woman ever! She had funky hair (that part of me always wanted to try!), cool clothes and a tank! By the time the movie and I were eventually on the same wavelength, I was totally hooked. I’ve slowly been building my collection of the comics (I believe there should be 2 in the mail, in fact) and soaking up all the Tankie I can find. And she’s one of the most fun characters to draw, the artists that have worked on it are simply phenomenal! She’s tough as nails, rude, crude, brazen and bazooka-brassiered!
4. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
She’s just a regular young woman… But, oh wait, she has to save the world! Boy trouble, fitting in, highschool, friends, homework. We shared the same problems, granted mine were less apocalypty, and was a heroine you could relate to. I’ve been watching Buffy for half my life – not without pause – and it’s still held in that same precious spot in my heart where it forced its way in all those years ago. I have to say though, Buffy was not the only great woman in that show; Willow, Joyce, Cordelia, Tara, Anya, and Dawn all taught girls everywhere something about grasping onto the strength we possess and, forgive the pun, living up to our potential. In particular, I was a Willow girl - nerdy, loserish, hopelessly enamoured of someone just as clueless, odd humour, easily excited, loved my library. I could go on. I even have the hair and pale complexion to match.
5. Amanda Palmer
Fearless. Iconic. Comedian. Opinionated. Lover. Artist. Poet. Hero.
I have mountains of respect and love for Amanda. She’s a true music artist and an even truer person. My path to discovering her was all by chance. First off, I caught The Dresden Dolls late night on Channel 4, or something, performing ‘Coin-Operated Boy’ and another song. Their appearance and the set really grabbed my attention ( it was similar to the Live in Paradise set). I had missed their name but jotted down “Coin-Operated Boy” on a piece of paper. That always stayed in the back of my mind. A year or so later, I found an advertisement for the Live In Paradise DVD in a magazine and loved the photo. That too was saved. It was around then that decided to look them up since we had finally gotten a computer. Again, I was hooked!! I searched Virgin until I found Yes, Virginia, brought it home, listened to it repeatedly, and the rest it happy history.
As they continued on, then went on hiatus, I followed them together and seperately. The music they were making was just so different to what I had heard and they were doing such interesting things. Then when she went solo…forget about it! I was awe-struck when I first heard ‘Astronaut’. But it’s not just her music and her lyrics, it’s her. She cares for the fans and does all she can to keep in touch. I hadn’t experienced anything like that before, the dialogue between artist and audience. She’s not afraid to try something new, or something no-one has ever tried. Then there’s he whole thing about being half of one of the best power couples, um, ever! I really, really could go on… This went on a bit, but she is one of the only two real people on this list!
6. Zoe Washburne
Ever the feminist, Joss Whedon knows how to write kickass female characters! Zoe, Mal Reynolds’ right hand woman and one half of a most unexpected couple, is an Amazon warrior woman, through and through. She’s more than capable of taking care of herself - trusty gun at the ready – and can crack a joke (many great deadpan moments) and have a laugh with the guys. Yet, when it’s time for the more sentimental stuff, she’s a softy – looking after the poor, defenseless Saffron. She can be dominating, which is a loved and hated quality to hubby, Wash, but can be a wife just the same. Mmm, wife soup… She’s proof that you can be the hardass leader of men and the lover.
7. Penelope Garcia
My name is Sarah and I am a Criminal Minds addict. One of my favourite characters from the show is Garcia, the uber geeky, super stylish, techie goddess! Yup, that’s her full title. Garcia has to deal with a lot! She didn’t sign up to the BAU to fight crime and investigate murders (in fact, she didn’t sign up at all…), yet she has to bear the weight of some brutal stuff. Researching murders and criminals of every kind, watching videos of killings to find clues within the soundtrack; basically seeing and learning more of the world’s evil than most folk aught to. It’s this very reason that she decorates her office with colourful toys and fluffy and sparkly accessories, and keeps conversation light with her quirky humour and phone answering technique. She finds a way to seperate the two worlds and not become a disturbed shut-in, as some might do in her position. She’s also incredibly independant and has been since a relatively early age. She doesn’t need a man (but she does eventually get a cute’n'geeky one in the form of Nick Brendan!) and is completely comfortable with herself. Just look at her fabulous wardbrobe and her interaction with Derek. Oh, the flirting and the nicknames! I have respect for the character as well as the real women, and men, that old similar jobs.
8. Lisbeth Salander
Lisbeth is a more recent addition to my list of heroines. Ever since I seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - what, last year – I loved her. She’s the outsider, not in the awkward highschool way but in the severely abused way, and just doesn’t take anything lying down. She’s been through hell and made it, and doesn’t show any sign of letting herself get dragged back into that mess again… of course she is, otherwise what would the trilogy be about? She’s pierced, tattooed, almost shaven-headed, dresses in dark colours, and is very beautiful. Lisbeth is as complex a character as they come, and I really have to applaud Noomi Rapace for her performance. Lisbeth may do her best to stay out of trouble, in her painfully introverted and terse way, but doesn’t cower away from a fight. If you’ve seen the movies or read the book, you know what I’m talking about! Yes, she’s rough around the edges but I think she’s one of the finest heroines in modern culture.
9. Frida Kahlo
Okay, I will keep this short since I could literally write over 3,000 words on her! She was an incredibly influential woman and paved the way for many artists, both female and Mexican. Comfortable with her sexuality, unafraid to show the world her inner self and willing to take a stand for her political beliefs. Her life was hard, and that’s an understatement – countless operations, a result of an accident when she was young, and a passionate turbulent marriage to Diego Rivera. And, of course… her art! It’s just amazing. I knew the bare bones of her history a little over a month ago when I decided to write about her for a college essay, now I am a massive fan and cannot wait for the exhibition of her and Diego’s work here next month!!
10. Xena, the Warrior Princess
Oh, how I miss the days of watching Xena and Hercules! She was just the coolest. The costume, the weaponry, that war cry – you know you’ve tried to iminate it. I can remember playing Hero Quest with my brother when I was little and my character name on the score sheet would always be ‘Xena‘ (and what a good game!). She reminded me of Red Sonja, more so with that whole Hercules cross-overy goodness. And then Gabrielle was just awesome too. I always wanted a staff to swing around, hit bad guys with, help me on treks through forests… all of which I do so often.
11. Awesome Gals Everywhere
I’m not forgetting Wonder Woman - how could I? It’s just that I didn’t grow up with her. I knew of her, and the iconography of her as the strong woman, but that was about as far as my knowledge went. My knowledge has grown some over the years, but not by much. The comics are on my to buy list, and season 1 od the tv series and the animated movie (with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion) are sitting on my shelf waiting to be watched. I have to mention Wonder Woman Day, as it’s just a fantastic organisation.
Also, the women behind Geek Girl Con, and all the other geeky girls I follow through blogs, twitter, facebook, harass in person (she’ll get this is her, I hope). There’s too many to name, but they know who they are and must know just how amazing each and every one of them is.
Finally, my fellow Geek Girls (usually found ‘on the street’). I’m forever grateful for having the opportunity to have met all of you, even online, and to get to work with you. You all, quite simply, rock!
I’m gonna be mushy here and add: My Mam. She ain’t nearly as geeky as the rest of this list, but she’s my hero none the less
How about you folk? Care to share yours?