by Raymond M. Coulombe
Look through the offerings in any bookstore. You’ll find a lot more books with strong female characters. Women have always been on the covers of speculative fiction. However, they all too often fit into the category of damsel in distress. Well, that and scantily clad eye candy.
These days, when a female character is on the cover, she’s just as likely to be the hero. Of course, she may also be dressed in a skin tight flight suite or ridiculously revealing fantasy armor. Baby steps, I guess. The hero still has to be sexy as hell. Then again, the men on the covers of those books and magazines look a lot more like body builders than accountants.
There is a tendency to portray female heroes as strong and physically tough as any man. They are basically men with ovaries. That’s a shame and a waste of a good female character. There are some women at the far end of the bell curve that can kick most men’s butts but they are far outside the norm. That’s fine, if you want to go that way. I’ve got nothing against extraordinarily gifted characters. Even those unusually strong women should be portrayed as women. Just because a woman can dead lift 600 pounds doesn’t me she can’t also be girly.
The best portrayals out there make use of a woman’s abilities. They don’t have to be better men than men. They can be amazing women and that’s more than good enough.